Act now for the Guantánamo prisoners

closeguantanamo.org | July 9, 2021

ravil mingazov
Reposted from the Close Guantanamo Now! campaign. 

In our latest article, Former Military Commissions Prosecutor Calls for the Closure of Guantánamo, we cross-post, with an introduction by our co-founder Andy Worthington, an op-ed recently published in the Washington Post by Omar Ashmawy, a former prosecutor in Guantánamo’s broken military commission trial system.

Ashmawy was involved in the only two cases that have proceeded to trials (six others ended in plea deals), and the broken nature of the commissions can be gauged from the fact that these trials took place 13 years ago, in 2008, and that even the most recent plea deal took place nine years ago, in 2012.

He is unstinting in his criticism of the commissions, but, crucially, is also implacably opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, calling for everyone who has not been charged to be freed, and for those who have been charged to have their cases transferred to federal courts on the U.S. mainland.

In other developments since our last newsletter, two “forever prisoners” at Guantánamo recently had their release recommended by Periodic Review Boards, decisions that Andy wrote about on his website, where he also wrote about torture at Guantánamo on the U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (on June 26), about the death of Donald Rumsfeld, and, most recently, about the case of Ravil Mingazov, which ought to be of grave concern to everyone opposed to the existence of Guantánamo.

Take action for Ravil Mingazov

Ravil Mingazov, a Tatar from one of the states that make up the Russian Federation, is one of 23 men who were sent to the United Arab Emirates between November 2015 and January 2017, after their release was approved by Periodic Review Boards, a high-level government review process established under President Obama.

However, although they were supposed to be allowed to begin new lives in the UAE, they have, instead, been “subjected to continuous arbitrary detention at an undisclosed location in the UAE, which amounts to enforced disappearance,” in the words of a number of key U.N. rights experts.

The experts recently condemned the Emirati authorities for their proposal to repatriate Mingazov, who, they explain, would face “substantial risk of torture and ill-treatment upon his return.” It was this fear that prevented the U.S. authorities from repatriating him in the first place, but since Donald Trump closed the Office of the Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, the office that dealt with prisoner resettlements, there has been no one in the U.S. government to deal with problems like this, and, nearly six months after Joe Biden became president, there still isn’t.

Moreover, Ravil Mingazov is not the only one of the men transferred to the UAE who are subjected to “arbitrary detention.” As we explained in an article last October, 18 Yemenis and an Afghan who also ended up in the UAE are in the same predicament. 

We have previously explained that Secretary of State Antony Blinken needs to appoint a new Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, to facilitate the transfer out of  Guantánamo of the eleven men still held who have been approved for release, but what the UAE scandal also demonstrates is the urgent need for the State Department to intervene on behalf of these men — via a new Envoy, if possible, but if not via Secretary Blinken himself.

If you can, and you’re a U.S. citizen, please contact Secretary Blinken to urge him to act urgently on behalf of Ravil Mingazov and the Yemenis in the UAE, and to appoint a new Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure without further delay.

You can say something like, "Secretary Blinken, please act urgently on behalf of Ravil Mingazov, who faces enforced repatriation to torture in his homeland from the UAE, where he has been held in arbitrary detention since his transfer from Guantánamo in 2017, and please also urge the Emirati authorities to end the arbitrary detention of 18 Yemenis and an Afghan who were also transferred from Guantánamo. Please also appoint a new Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure without further delay, to facilitate the transfer, to safe countries, of the eleven men still held at Guantánamo who have been approved for release but are still held.”