January 27, 2016. Three Bagram detainees transferred by the U.S. government to Afghan custody in December 2014 have begun a hunger strike to protest their continued imprisonment and treatment at the Afghanistan National Detention Facility. For the first time since their detention began in 2009, Sa’id Jamaluddin and Abdul Fatah were allowed to speak with their lawyer, Tina M. Foster of the U.S.-based International Justice Network (IJN). Sa’id and Abdul, two brothers originally from Tajikistan, reported that they, along with another detainee, IJN client Musa Akhmadjanov, began a hunger strike on January 18 to protest their unlawful detention by Afghan and U.S. authorities. None of the men has ever been tried or convicted of any charges related to terrorism or any hostile activities against U.S. or Afghan forces.
Sa’id Jamaluddin was seventeen years old when he was arrested by U.S. forces in Northern Afghanistan in 2008. He and his older brother, Abdul Fatah, were staying at a friend’s house when it was targeted by a U.S. military raid. Though no weapons or incriminating evidence were found at the scene, U.S. authorities arrested the brothers and sent them to the U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Base. After months of interrogation, the U.S. government did not find any evidence of links to the Taliban or terrorism. Nor did it find any crime with which to charge Sa’id or Abdul.
In February 2010, the U.S. military determined that the brothers posed no risk to the United States and approved their transfer out of Bagram. The brothers could not go home to Tajikistan, where they faced risk of torture and death. But the U.S. government failed to find a safe third country for the brothers’ resettlement, and Sa’id and Abdul languished at Bagram Prison for the next five years. In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense closed Bagram Prison and transferred the brothers to Afghan custody. Two months later, an Afghan court ruled that they were entitled to release; this decision was affirmed by Afghanistan’s highest court. But nearly a year later, the brothers remain in custody.
Sa’id and Abdul have vowed not to eat until they are released. “The Afghan courts have said we are entitled to be released,” said Sa’id. “But we are being kept in a maximum security prison – we should not be here.”
Musa Akhmadjanov, the third Bagram detainee protesting his unlawful detention, cannot be repatriated to his country of origin – Uzbekistan – due to the risk of torture. Afghan courts found that Musa was not guilty of any crime under Afghan law, and ruled in June 2015 that he was entitled to release.
“The U.S. government has responsibility for us,” Sa’id remarked. “Do they want to find some solution, or leave us behind to die here?”
Yale Law School’s Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic is assisting the International Justice Network in pursuit of relief for the three men.
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