15 Child Prisoners of Guantánamo

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


Thursday, June 09, 2011

15 Child Prisoners of GuantánamoIt turns out that more children were detained at Guantánamo than the U.S. government previously admitted.
Based on documents newly released by WikiLeaks, the Center for the Study of Human Rights in Americas at the University of California Davis found at least 15 prisoners who were children (17 years old or younger) at the time of their arrival in Cuba.
Prior to this disclosure, the State Department had acknowledged the presence of only 12 non-adults at Guantánamo. In an earlier report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, State Department officials admitted to only eight juvenile detainees.
Thirteen of the 15 were eventually released by U.S. authorities. Of the remaining two, one, Omar Khadr of Canada, became the first child in history convicted of war crimes. Khadr was 15 years old when, during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, he allegedly threw a grenade that killed U.S. soldier Christopher Speer.
The other child, Yasser Talal al Zahrani of Saudi Arabia, was 16 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan and accused of fighting for the Taliban. He reportedly hanged himself in his cell at the age of 21 in a case that is still considered controversial.
The youngest child held in the prison was Mohammed Ismail Agha of Afghanistan, who was 13 at time of his detainment. He was apparently trying to find construction work when a local militia tried to recruit him. He refused and the militiamen told U.S. soldiers that was a Taliban fighter. Agha spent 14 months in custody before being released from Guantánamo, at which time he shocked human rights advocates by claiming to have enjoyed his time in the camp and thanking American soldiers for having taught him some English and finding him books to read in his native Pashto. He was, however, critical of U.S. authorities for waiting ten months to tell his father (through the Red Cross) that he was alive.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

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