- Arrested by U.S. forces in 2009.
- Imprisoned for more than nine months at Bagram without charge or trial
- Never shown any evidence against him.
- Claims his grain was destroyed when soldiers searched his home, but he was never compensated.
- Released in 2010 without explanation.
K., a farmer in his 50s with a wife and more than a dozen children, was living in Jalalabad when he was arrested by U.S. forces in 2009. He was accused of supporting the Taliban in attacks on Americans, but he consistently denied the charges. He said he was never shown any evidence against him, and never told whether there was an informant or any other witnesses testifying against him. He claims large amounts of grain he had harvested and was prepared to sell were destroyed when U.S. soldiers searched his home. He was never compensated. K. spent more than nine months at the U.S. detention center at Bagram before being released without explanation.
“There was no apology, no compensation at all. I told them that you guys destroyed my grain, I had big losses. But nobody cared.”
HRF: Please tell us what happened when you were arrested.
K.: It was night time, in the Autumn of 2009, when the Americans broke the door and entered into the house. The children were sleeping, I was awake.
HRF: Did the Americans knock first?
K.: They didn’t knock, they just kicked the door down. Some Afghans were with them, trained by the Americans. When they entered my home I introduced myself. They threw me down on the ground, tied my hands, put a sack over my head.
My oldest son was also detained.
HRF: What did they tell you about why they were entering your house?
K.: They didn’t tell me anything. They searched my house so aggressively. I had grain in big sacks. They struck the sacks with a knife during the search, and it damaged all the grains, because they spilled out and got mixed.
They drove me to Jalalabad airport and interrogated me that night. They accused me of cooperating with the Taliban. They said I had attacked Americans. They took my fingerprints. They didn’t find anything in my home. They took a knife, a bayonet that goes in an AK-47. But there was no AK 47. They had raided the house once before my arrest, when I was not home.
HRF: What were the conditions like where they first took you?
K.: They put me in a small room made of board. There was one light, one blanket, and a mattress. I wasn’t beaten there. It was just a 1-hour interrogation.
In the morning they took me to Bagram. I was blindfolded, and they shackled my hands and feet, and put headphones on me so I couldn’t hear.
HRF: What happened at Bagram?
K.: I was taken to a small cell, and spent 11 days there in isolation. This is what they call the Tor jail. They gave me other clothes, an orange jumpsuit. Three days later they took me to shower. I only showered twice in 11 days. In the small cell, I had a Koran, but could not read it because my eyes were weak. There was no water for ablution. We were not told if it was day or night, and there was a light on all the time.
They took me to a doctor and wanted me to take off all my clothes. I said no, that’s not good for a Muslim, it’s very shameful. They said I had to or they would tear the clothes off of me.
The food was in small boxes. Military food, not cooked or hot.
HRF:What kind of questions did they ask you at Bagram?
K. They asked me the same questions as before. They said I had links to the Taliban and I attacked Americans. I told them I had a land dispute within my village. They put cables on me and said they were giving me a lie detector test. They said I had failed the test.
HRF: Did they ever transfer you to a different cell?
K.: After 11 days I was transferred to a bigger cell, with about 18 people. It went up to 22 people. There was only 1 toilet for everyone in the cell.
At the bigger jail, the main interrogator was a woman with an interpreter. She was treating me very well. She never told me why she thought I was working for the Taliban, though. I asked many times if they had any evidence. They never showed me any.
HRF: How long did you stay in this bigger cell?
K.: After about two months I was taken to the new detention center. There were about 20 people in a cell there.
HRF: Where you ever given a hearing or a trial?
K.: I was put on trial twice, both times in the new jail. The first time I said, if you want, I will call the tribal elders and influential leaders from the village. But they were not interested.
Before I was transferred to the new jail, somebody came to me, about a month before my trial, and said I will represent you in the trial. But he also said to me: “all of you guys are the same.”
I didn’t trust him. He was a U.S. military guy. He didn’t tell me anything about the trial or what it would be like.
HRF: What was the trial like?
K.: In the court, there were about 20 people, all in U.S. military uniforms. They were angry, said I was involved in attacks. They asked me, do you know Abu Ikhlas, a fighter against the Russians who came to Afghanistan? The prosecutor was asking if I know these people who killed Americans.
They showed me a picture of Abu Ikhlas. I said I’ve seen him, and I said I went to see him with my broken vehicle. We lived in the same province. I had a truck that needed to be fixed.
In my village, 16 people were killed by Americans. The U.S. was given a report about the Taliban, and killed 16 people. They killed 6 civilians, including an 82-year-old man who was paralyzed. I knew the 6 civilians and 5 or 6 of the Taliban. The civilians were from my village. One of the civilians killed was my nephew. When the U.S. soldiers first raided my house, I was at my nephew’s funeral.
HRF: What else did they ask you?
K.: They asked if I went to a Madrassa in Peshawar. I said I went there once for prayer during Ramadan.
I wish I didn’t tell the truth that I know these gentlemen, and that I went to Pakistan. They repeated their accusations that I killed Americans. But they said nothing specific, no specific dates or incidents.
HRF: What happened after the first trial?
K.: About 4 months after the first trial, and about 40 days before the second trial, I was called by someone, showed a piece of paper, and told to put my finger here. It will be your second trial.
One month before the second trial someone came and said I’m your representative. He said I should tell the truth. He was telling me the accusations against me. They were all the things I had said myself—that I went to Madrassa, I knew people killed by the Americans. The P.R. did not say he would conduct an investigation or interviews. He just said, “I will defend on your behalf.” But I was bothered by him, he was asking too many questions. He said I have links with the Taliban. He never mentioned that there was an informant, or any evidence—no fingerprints, nothing. He just said they had this information.
HRF: Was the second trial different from the first one?
K.: In the first trial, the people were angry. In the second trial, they were listening.
I told the PR to talk to my family, and they identified two elders from my village, and one from another village nearby. They came as witnesses. The prosecutor asked the villagers about me, what I’m like. They explained I had legal disputes with some of the other villagers. That there were arguments about land.
I defended myself, repeated the things I had said before. I admitted I went to Madrassa but said I’m not a Taliban. I’ve never killed even a bird. I just shot a snake once.
Then they said they will have another session about me, a closed session that I could not attend.
HRF: When were you told the decision from the trial?
K.: I was never told the decision. Nobody came after the trial to say the decision of the court. But 19 days later, I was released.
Some detainees, they got a piece of paper. For me, just a soldier came and took me and said you will be going home. There was no explanation from the soldier. I never saw the PR again.
They took me out of the Bagram Air Base, and some people had come from the provincial council. I was driven home. A lot of people came to my house to greet me.
But from the Americans, there was no apology, no compensation at all. I told them that you guys destroyed my grain, I had big losses. But nobody cared.