American horror: POTUS after POTUS wronged this old Pakistani man | Human Rights

I discover it infuriating when a scarred life is decreased to a unusual curiosity.

That’s what has occurred to Saifullah Paracha, a 75-year-old Pakistani entrepreneur who was lastly launched in late October from the United States-run dungeons in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In reporting on Paracha’s belated liberation, a number of information organisations famous that he was the oldest captive there with out, in fact, admitting that, like so many others, he shouldn’t have spent a second in jail given his US captors by no means got here even remotely near discovering him responsible of a criminal offense.

Paracha was locked up for 19 years at what one New York Occasions (NYT) correspondent known as a “seafront compound“. Sounds nearly like a sun-kissed vacationer resort somewhat than a brutish, distant jail that includes barbed wire fencing, guard canines and armed US troopers manning lookout posts.

In any occasion, that Paracha was an anomaly at Guantanamo Bay – the place many of the different captives have been a lot youthful males – is what made him newsworthy.

Not the truth that Paracha wasted almost 20 years of his life in a dungeon as a part of a covert, worldwide abduction racket. Nor the truth that Paracha was by no means charged by his American abductors and jailers throughout his lengthy imprisonment.

However journalists, in the end, aren’t the villains right here.

The duty for this horror is shared by a succession of unrepentant US presidents who will doubtless by no means expertise even a minute measure of remorse or discomfort for what they did to an ageing, frail man and his household.

Paracha was “accused” of being an al-Qaeda sympathiser and “suspected” of bankrolling the group. That sentence, which quotes the BBC, incorporates two of the three hottest weasel phrases governments use to “hyperlink” – that’s the third – anybody to terrorism with out proof.

In July 2003, a suspicious FBI lured Paracha to Thailand the place they kidnapped him and flew him – sure, shackled and hooded – to Afghanistan, in an obscene affront to worldwide legislation.

Whereas being held incommunicado at a US navy jail at Bagram, Paracha suffered the primary of a collection of coronary heart assaults. Fourteen months later, he was taken – sure, shackled and hooded once more – to Guantanamo Bay the place, and not using a scintilla of proof that he helped finance or promote al-Qaeda’s pursuits, he remained till just a few days in the past.

In 2005, Paracha’s son, Uzair, who was dwelling in New York, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail for allegedly “offering materials assist to terrorism”. 13 years later, in 2018, a US federal courtroom decide ordered his launch after exculpatory data was found that raised doubts about his conviction.

Justice Sydney Stein mentioned he was granting Uzair a brand new trial as a result of allowing the unique judgement to face can be “a manifest injustice”. Two years later, prosecutors dropped the case towards Uzair.

The Paracha household has certainly been the sufferer of a “manifest injustice”, perpetrated by highly effective males who, at present, are being rehabilitated and feted as “elder statesmen”.

American presidents are usually not solely proof against accountability; they’re additionally proof against disgrace.

I doubt that George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump bear in mind who Paracha is or care a whit about his destiny since one of many principal {qualifications} to turn into commander-in-chief is to be ready to deploy American pressure to hurt and kill folks in defence of the “nationwide curiosity”.

And this, not less than, Paracha has over those that have presidential libraries constructed as monuments to their significance: There isn’t any foundation to say that he has ever harmed or killed one other soul.

Particularly, the conduct of that smug liberal darling, Obama, in reference to Paracha’s ordeal is shameful.

A “activity pressure” established on inauguration day by the then-new president reported to him in 2010 that there was “no proof” to justify laying costs towards a few of the Guantanamo “detainees” however added that they have been “too harmful” to be let loose. In April 2013 it emerged that Paracha was one among 71 captives who have been harmless.

Nonetheless, politics trumped integrity. And Obama allowed a sick, trustworthy man to stay captive somewhat than launch him into the care of his loving household in Pakistan.

What makes Paracha’s prolonged incarceration in America’s gulag all of the extra egregious is that the businessman had lived and labored within the US because the Seventies and all through his inhumane odyssey professed not solely his innocence however love and gratitude for his adopted nation.

None of that historical past mattered.

The US – spurred on by revenge-thirsty columnists who informed Iraqis to “suck on this” – was searching “terrorists” in Kabul, Baghdad and past.

Paracha was merely disposable, forgettable fodder for use to indicate how ruthless each Republicans and Democrats may very well be in shielding their “homeland” from future assaults.

The rule of legislation didn’t matter. Worldwide legislation didn’t matter. The US Structure’s rights and ensures didn’t matter. Equity didn’t matter. Due course of didn’t matter.

And naturally, Saifullah Paracha didn’t matter.

The prime years of his life didn’t matter. He was a no one. Not a husband. Not a father. Not a brother. Not a son. Simply one other Muslim {that a} sham, unlawful equipment run by troopers on the behest of presidents bought what he deserved.

However what Paracha and his household deserve, on the very least, is an apology. That received’t occur. It ought to, however it received’t. Presidents don’t apologise to males like Saifullah Paracha. It might be beneath them and the workplace of the presidency to apologise. They’re essential. He’s not.

However a current picture of Paracha reveals that, by means of all of it, he held tight to his humanity and maybe his sense of humour. Arms crossed, carrying a white t-shirt and a wry smile, he sits at a desk in a McDonald’s restaurant in Karachi.

I suppose that after this burst of consideration, Paracha will slip again into anonymity and check out, as finest he can, to get well and benefit from the sundown of his life. He’ll try this within the quiet data that he’s a greater man than the preening presidents who will at all times carry the blot of the indecency they visited on a good human being.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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