The Sudanow e-magazine is running a number of stories and is publishing the narration, crude as it is, of the Sudanese who spent years in detention in Guantanamo. We simply asked them to speak about their families and themselves present and past, and about their feelings. And they, worry of any censorship asked that their narration be published as-is-where-is in the language of marketing and got a promise that we will publish the stories as they relate them, no censorship. This is what we are doing now (main story: Return from Hell: the story of Sudanese detainees! Detainee No 940 in Guantanamo!!).
You may find some of them long and tiring but remember this is the first time they talked about their families and among their families and in their presence to the local media and to the Sudanese media in particular.
Rest to say that the one striking similarity among the three ex-detainees interviewed by our team is that they all hailed from average to poor families. The second is that none of them was militarily trained- save one who spent a month as part of the national service duty. Outside Sudan they were not engaged in any military activities. And back in Sudan they quickly joined the daily life, with little if any hard feeling. And the most sticking element perhaps is that in most of the Arab and Muslim societies whose citizens were detained in Guantanamo, most people do everything possible to distance themselves from the ex-detainees.
In the communities where the Sudanese ex-detainees live people may not agree with their political or religious interpretation but they do not see in them terrorists and they do not isolate them. In one quarter the community took an initiative and built a room for the family of one ex-detainee. One university thought the man was unjustly detained; it dropped all university fees against his daughters, three of them. In many of the sessions that we photographed, people would join in for a photo opportunity with those persons.
In most of the off-the record conversions, the families never had bad feeling neither against the Americans or their community. There is a striking climate of reconciliation with self. There is however one general sad feeling about the country, the Muslim country, that handed them to the Americans. None of them said he had expected this to come from the Pakistani.
But one would not fail to see that these impoverished quarters with little hope for a better future are the cause for extremism that youth adopt in compensation. It is not a secret that most of the people detained by the Americans in connection with the September 11 terrorist a have hailed either from very rich countries but also from very poor overpopulated and economically congested countries in Africa and the Arab world. The statistics say of those detained in Guantanamo some 170 came from Arab countries including 98 Yemenis, 14 Algerian, 13 Saudi Arabians, 12 Syrians, 8 Libyans, 8 Tunisians, 4 Palestinians, 4 Kuwaitis, 3 Iraqis, 3 Sudanese, 2 Egyptians, 2 Moroccans, 2 Somalis and 2 Mauritanians. It is clear that extreme lack of democracy and extreme poverty breed extremism. We have seen this, in recent months in East Africa (the case of Somalia) and in far West Africa (the case of Nigeria): extreme poverty amalgamated with lack of hope and democracy has led to extremism. But through act of enlightenment and opening windows of hope such tendencies could be put town in the bud stage. Amen.