Ravil Mingazov, Former Guantánamo Detainee, Doesn’t Want to Be Sent Home to Russia Because it’s Too Dangerous

Yusuf Mingazov met his father Ravil—a former Russian ballet dancer—for the primary time via a videocall between a Purple Cross workplace in Britain and the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, the place he had been imprisoned for greater than 14 years.

“It was sort of troublesome to clarify the feelings and all the pieces, nevertheless it was good to see him as a result of it was the primary time,” stated Yusuf, 22, who was born in Russia.

He was simply three years previous when his father was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 accused of being related with al Qaeda and the Taliban. The U.S. concluded that he was a “low stage fighter”—which he denies—earlier than clearing him for launch in 2017, however he was not granted freedom. As an alternative, Ravil Mingazov was despatched to the United Arab Emirates the place he languishes in one other jail cell, in arguably even worse circumstances.

Now, he faces the specter of being forcibly despatched again to Russia the place his household fears he could possibly be detained, tortured or killed.

Mingazov’s household maintains that fleeing persecution in Russia was the explanation he was in Pakistan and Afghanistan within the first place. “He needed to boost me in an Islamic nation as a result of he needed one of the best for me and to dwell in peace,” Yusuf stated.

As a toddler, Yusuf traced a picture of his father although pictures and tales about his life as a soldier and a Purple Military ballet dancer within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, instructed by family and friends in his homeland of Tatarstan, in jap Russia.

Yusuf now lives together with his mom and siblings in London, the place they had been granted political asylum. He has constructed a relationship together with his father via a collection of intermittent telephone calls from Guantánamo and through his father’s resettlement within the UAE, the place slightly than being reintegrated into regular life, he has been imprisoned. The scheduled one-hour video exchanges between father and son within the U.S. jail quickly turned sporadic five-minute calls at random hours.

“Even in Guantánamo, not less than I might see a smile on his face,” Yusuf stated. Within the UAE, he stated his father, who’s 57, sounded “damaged,” and the road can be minimize when he complained of the jail circumstances and solitary confinement. Quickly the calls stopped.

“He favored Guantánamo greater than the UAE,” Yusuf stated.

Earlier this month, UN human-rights experts raised an alarm about the opportunity of Mingazov, a Muslim of Tatar ethnicity, being forcibly repatriated to Russia.

“We’re significantly involved that as an alternative of releasing him in accordance with the alleged resettlement settlement between the U.S. and the UAE, Mr. Mingazov has been subjected to steady arbitrary detention at an undisclosed location within the UAE, which quantities to enforced disappearance,” the specialists stated.

“Now he dangers being forcibly repatriated to Russia regardless of the reported danger of torture and arbitrary detention primarily based on his spiritual beliefs.”

The assertion follows related issues about 18 Yemenis who had been feared to be on the verge of pressured repatriation final 12 months. 4 Afghans had been already forcibly despatched again residence with certainly one of them dying “due to illness resulting from years of torture, mistreatment and medical neglect at both Guantanamo and in the UAE,” in line with an earlier assertion by the specialists.

“It isn’t acceptable that detainees who didn’t return residence, after years of arbitrary detention at Guantánamo Bay, from concern of persecution at the moment are being repatriated with no judicial oversight or chance to problem this determination,” the specialists added.

The Final Days in Guantánamo Bay

Mingazov was certainly one of three former Guantánamo detainees who had been cleared for launch and placed on the final aircraft out two days earlier than former President Donald Trump was sworn into workplace on Jan. 20, 2017. Throughout Trump’s election marketing campaign, he vowed to maintain the jail open and “load it up with dangerous dudes.” As soon as he was within the White Home, he signed an government order to maintain the jail open, reversing President Barack Obama’s order to shut it.

When in Guantánamo, Mingazov instructed his U.S.-based lawyer, Gary Thompson, that he felt unsafe returning to Russia, the place seven former Guantánamo detainees were imprisoned and tortured once they had been forcibly despatched again in 2004. Mingazov was resettled with 22 different former detainees within the UAE as an alternative. All the lads got here from nations shaken by battle, the place the danger of violence and persecution is reportedly excessive.

UN specialists wanting into Mingazov’s case had been knowledgeable of attainable plans to repatriate him via Thompson, his lawyer, and the British-based human-rights authorized group Reprieve; each stay in common contact with Mingazov’s household in Britain and Russia. His household had knowledgeable Thompson and Reprieve that Mingazov’s mom, in Russia, had been visited by authorities authorities in late June to confirm his identification for a passport, as had been the case with the Afghans who had been forcibly repatriated to their nation.

“It adopted a sample we had seen, and it was deeply regarding,” stated Katie Taylor, the deputy director of Reprieve and coordinator for the Life After Guantánamo venture on the group, which was established greater than a decade in the past with cash from the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

Ravil Mingazov was within the Russian military earlier than quitting the nation.

Each day Beast/Photograph Handout

Imprisoned With out Cost, Resettled With out Rights

Because the Biden administration renews efforts to shut the jail that Obama unsuccessfully tried to close down, advocates for present and former Guantánamo detainees are arguing that extra must be executed to make sure their rights are protected after their launch, significantly those that have to be resettled in third nations.

Presently, 39 prisoners stay within the detention camp at an estimated value of $13 million an inmate each year, in line with one report. Eleven have been permitted for launch, with 5 of them from conflict-affected nations reminiscent of Yemen. They could need to be resettled in third nations. Since 2002, round 780 detainees have been held as prisoners of warfare, in line with The Guantànamo Docket, a database on detainees compiled by The New York Instances. Amongst them had been 140 detainees who had been permitted for launch and resettled in 30 host nations as a result of it was too unsafe for them to return to their very own.

Based on information collated by Reprieve, detainees resettled in 19 of these now 29 host nations have precarious authorized standing, starting from non permanent renewable residency to utterly missing paperwork. The group stated it will not disclose the standing of specific detainees particularly nations to guard its shoppers.

However Taylor at Reprieve stated {that a} lack of safe authorized standing stays an enormous drawback going through resettled detainees. “It’s actually troublesome for individuals to rebuild their lives and take steps to efficiently reintegrate again into society in the event that they really feel they are often chucked out at any given second,” she stated.

The UAE and Senegal are among the many nations that accepted detainees however then despatched them again to their authentic nations, in opposition to their will, to battle zones in recent times. In 2018, Senegal forcibly repatriated two Libyans to their war-shattered nation after a two-year keep in Senegal. Former members of the Workplace of the Particular Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, arrange by President Obama to supervise resettlements and repatriations of detainees and the closing of the jail, have stated that these transfers to 3rd nations had been made with humanitarian assurances and an understanding that the lads can be helped with rebuilding their lives and reintegrating into society. However that oversight stopped underneath the Trump administration, which instantly closed the workplace.

In a 2013 communiqué over a UN particular rapporteur’s letter to the workplace concerning issues concerning the repatriation of an Algerian detainee, the U.S. mission to the UN in Geneva stated, “The U.S. Authorities seeks assurances of human therapy, together with therapy in accordance with the worldwide obligations of the vacation spot nation, particularly underneath the Conference Towards Torture.” Nevertheless, households of each the Yemeni detainees and Mingazov have complained of reports of abuse and extended durations of solitary confinement in jail of their resettled nations.

All agreements between the U.S. and nations the place former detainees have been resettled are confidential. But a current assertion raises questions on how the U.S. sees its authorized and diplomatic accountability after resettlement. A letter written by Daniel A. Kronenfeld, a human-rights counselor who nonetheless works on the U.S. mission in Geneva, responded to the particular rapporteurs’ issues that Yemeni detainees within the UAE can be forcibly repatriated. In it, he asserts the people had been transferred “in a fashion in step with america’ authorized obligations and following agreed-upon assurances between america and the UAE concerning the phrases of their resettlement within the UAE.”

He provides: “Following the switch of detainees out of Guantánamo, former detainees are not within the management or custody of america. Host nations are in one of the best place to supply data on the present state of affairs of Guantánamo transferees.” The response was dated Jan. 15, 2021—5 days earlier than Biden was sworn in.

PassBlue, an independent public-service journalism organization that covers the UN, contacted the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Lana Nusseibeh, the UN ambassador for the UAE, for remark concerning the assertion by the particular rapporteurs on Mingazov’s case, however obtained no response by deadline. The press workplace of the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, didn’t reply to questions despatched by way of e mail asking whether or not Russia was planning on having Mingazov repatriated and whether or not he can be secure from persecution if he had been returned residence.

In June, the UAE received an elected seat within the UN Safety Council for the 2022-23 time period, and two years in the past, the nation reportedly paid $400,000 for a four-month contract with a Washington public-relations agency to assist handle the UAE’s worldwide picture, given its main position within the Saudi-led coalition bombing of Yemen. The PR account was headed by an ex-staffer of Samantha Energy, the previous U.S. ambassador to the UN underneath the Obama-Biden administration. (Energy now leads the U.S. Company for Worldwide Improvement, or USAID.) The particular rapporteurs have additionally expressed concern concerning the UAE’s jailing and alleged disappearing of distinguished activists and using counterterrorism legal guidelines to justify its actions.

In January 2017, Thompson, who represented Mingazov for a greater than a decade and was with him via his hearings with the U.S. Periodic Review Board, an interagency entity that determines whether or not a detainee might be safely launched, was unsure as as to whether his shopper can be freed. His being Russian made him a “political sizzling potato” on the time, Thompson stated. Latvia had been floated as an possibility for resettlement, however Mingazov feared it was too near his homeland.

When the UAE got here up as an possibility, Mingazov expressed pleasure about being settled in an Arab nation, and it was understood that he and different detainees would participate in a rehabilitation program that might final a most of 1 12 months, in line with Thompson and Reprieve.

“It felt like such an amazing victory on the time. I remembered calculating the flight time on the aircraft, and I needed the wheels to the touch down within the UAE earlier than Trump’s inauguration,” Thompson stated, including that he feared Trump “would order the aircraft to show round midair.”

Thompson and Reprieve have stated that they don’t have any affirmation of the place Mingazov is being held within the UAE and that his household has been given restricted entry to him over time, together with his mom having seen him as soon as on a visit to the nation in 2018 at a jail named Al-Razeen, positioned within the desert exterior Abu Dhabi. Some human-rights teams have known as the jail “the Guantánamo of the UAE” due to its alleged use of torture, loud music and extended solitary confinement, for which the U.S. base turned infamous.

A ruling earlier this 12 months by the European Court of Human Rights stating that Russia tortured and compelled confessions from males accused of terrorism has additionally raised concern amongst human-rights teams engaged on points associated to Guantánamo detainees. On the summit assembly with Biden and President Vladimir Putin in Geneva final month, Putin publicly criticized Biden for U.S.’ black-site CIA interrogations and the persevering with existence of Guantánamo.

“The Biden administration wants to carry the UAE authorities accountable,” stated Thompson. “No matter diplomatic assurances the UAE gave have all turned out to be lies… The UAE took these males and made guarantees to the U.S. authorities, our authorities, as to how they are going to be handled they usually have ended up placing these males via one thing worse than Guantánamo.”

Insiders linked to previous and current detainee circumstances have stated that Biden has assembled a small crew of individuals wanting into points surrounding the closure of Guantánamo and that there’s hope there may be discussions about the right way to cope with unsuccessful resettlements. The Biden administration simply released a Moroccan detainee to his homeland, bringing the entire inhabitants of Guantánamo all the way down to 39 males, with 10 really useful for switch to their homeland or to 3rd nations with safety preparations.

U.S. Accountability For Guantánamo

The current statements from the UN particular rapporteurs have been a part of a longstanding marketing campaign to stress the U.S. to close the jail and maintain key figures accountable for alleged torture and unlawful detention of detainees in each Guantánamo and former black websites around the globe. Particular rapporteurs on torture and counterterrorism over time have tried to entry the camp however had been each refused visits in addition to turned them down due to restrictions set by the U.S. authorities that might prohibit the UN specialists from assembly with and having non-public discussions with detainees, in line with two former particular rapporteurs on torture.

The human-rights specialists have additionally known as for the protection counsels of detainees accused of involvement within the Sept. 11 assaults to realize entry to categorized data of their interrogations and different proof used to cost and prosecute them, in order that they will obtain due course of. Moreover, they known as for entry to medical data for detainees who’ve been allegedly tortured, together with Ammar al-Baluchi, the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of transferring cash to the Sept. 11 hijackers. Morever, the specialists have criticized using testimony that has been obtained via torture within the persevering with army commissions for the few Guantánamo detainees who’ve been formally charged with crimes.

Manfred Nowak, a human-rights skilled and former particular rapporteur on torture, led a 2010 report into “secret detention within the context of countering terrorism” that was launched 4 years earlier than the Senate report in 2014. He interviewed former Guantánamo detainees in addition to many individuals who had been detained in black websites. Ni Aolain, the particular rapporteur on the promotion and safety of human rights whereas countering terrorism, stated she was releasing a follow-up report in March 2022.

“The resettlements have failed to handle the basic subject of accountability for the acts which trigger the necessity for resettlement within the first place — which was rendition, systematic torture and arbitrary detention, in violation of worldwide legislation,” stated Ni Aolain.

Nowak stated that Biden has a “main probability” to carry these answerable for the torture outlined within the Senate Intelligence report and for the arbitrary detention in Guantánamo. “The Biden administration has the identical obligation to essentially look into the previous and convey the perpetrators of those types of torture to justice and to pay reparations.”

Six years in the past, in 2015, Thompson and Mingazov’s household tried to have him launched to Britain. In a letter hooked up to a proper request written to the nation’s House Workplace, simply in need of a 12 months earlier than he was permitted for launch by the U.S., a teenage Yusuf writes about having seen his father solely via a “very previous household video” — and he asks the workplace to “please give him again to me.”

Years later, the uncertainty plagues him on daily basis. “We’ve been anxious about them sending him to Russia. In the event that they ship him to Russia, we all know he’ll die,” he stated throughout a current telephone name. However Yusuf nonetheless hopes he’ll someday meet his father head to head.

Reporting for this story was supported by a fellowship from the Ira A. Lipman Middle for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights on the Columbia Graduate College of Journalism.

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