FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE KUWAITI DETAINEES IN GUANTANAMO
Q: These Kuwaiti detainees are not American citizens. Why should they be entitled to a trial?
A: The U.S. Constitution guarantees all individuals a fair trial. And, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed that in three decisions in June 2004: RASUL v. Bush & Al-Odah v. United States and HAMDI et al. v. RUMSFELD
Q: But aren’t the Kuwaiti detainees prisoners of war? Doesn’t that make their rights different from the rights that accused criminals have?
A: If they are prisoners of war, they would have rights under the Geneva Conventions. But they are not being given those rights either.
Q: Well, which is it? Are they accused criminals or prisoners of war?
A: That’s the whole point – the government refuses to treat them like either accused criminals or prisoners of war. The government has created a third category in which the Kuwaiti prisoners are non-persons with no rights. In fact, the law recognizes no such category.
They are being called “illegal combatants.” There is no such thing. “Illegal combatants” defies all logic. If they are “illegal,” they are not “combatants.” If they are “combatants,” they are not “illegal.”
These 12 men have been deprived of their rights as both defendants and prisoners of war. They have not been allowed to meet or speak with their families or have any contact with counsel, nor have they even been informed of the charges, if any, against them. They have been denied the most basic legal rights granted to any person detained by the U.S. government, and they are being held virtually in isolation.
Q: So you’re against the government on this issue?
A: We are for the government because we are for the Supreme Court, which has ruled in our favor in three cases.
Q: What makes you believe the Kuwaiti detainees are innocent?
A: The question of quilt or innocence is for a court to decide – and that’s exactly what needs to happen here. Indeed, we will never know the real truth until the Kuwaiti detainees are given fair trials.
Q: How were the Kuwaiti detainees captured?
A: They were rounded up by Pakistani villagers and soldiers, who were paid a bounty by the Pakistani army for every person they turned in. These villagers and soldiers are poor and we have every reason to believe that they were motivated to ensnare as many people as possible, regardless of guilt or innocence. Any Arab from outside the area was a hunted man.
Q: But what were those Arabs doing there in the first place? What were the Kuwaiti detainees doing there in the first place?
A: The Moslem religion ordains that all people do charitable work. It ordains that people actually perform the work, as well as donate money. When so many refugees were suffering, when so much had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt, the war area was an inevitable place for these men to be, simply to fulfill their religious obligation. Each one of the Kuwaiti detainees has a rich history of doing charitable work before the war. They were continuing that tradition when they were captured by bounty-hunters.
Q: Who’s behind this campaign to free these people?
A: We are the Kuwaiti Family Committee, an organization formed nearly two years ago by relatives of the detainees to advocate for their just treatment under the U.S. judicial system.
Q: What happens next? What do you hope the public will do for these Kuwaiti detainees?
A: All we want is your voice of support. Tell the President. Tell Congress. Tell them to obey the Supreme Court. Tell them that you believe the imprisonment of people without U.S. legal rights or the benefits of the Geneva Convention is wrong. Tell them that it threatens our way of life as much as any act of violence.
You will be telling them the truth.