Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif or prisoner No. 156 to be more precise, a 32 year old Yemeni detainee at the Guantanamo Bay Prison died on September 8th, becoming the 9th prisoner to meet his death while at the detention facility.
He was one of the first prisoners to be taken to the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba's southeast coast in 2002. Adnan Latif was captured in December 2001 near the Pak-Afghan border and handed over to US custody. He was transferred to Guantanamo on 17 January 2002. His mental and physical health had caused considerable concern over the years. Abdul Latif challenged his detention in the U.S. District Court in Washington, which ruled in July 2010 that he should go free. His lawyers argued that Latif had gone to Pakistanand then Afghanistan to seek medical treatment from an aid group for a severe head injury suffered in a car crash.
He had previously made a number of suicide attempts. Writing to his lawyer from isolation in Guantanamo’s Camp 5 in March 2010, he said that his circumstances make “death more desirable than living”.
Administrative review boards at Guantanamo recommended he be transferred to his homeland in 2006 and again in 2008, recommendations that were never carried out.
According to his attorney David Remes, Latif was among the Yemenis cleared for transfer by President Barack Obama's Guantanamo Review Task Force in 2009. However President Obama imposed a moratorium on returning Guantanamo captives to Yemen after a Yemeni-trained Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound planewith a bomb in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009.
On September 8th, 2012, the guards found him unconscious, medics tried to revive him and took him to the base hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of his death has not been announced yet, but his lawyer says, “Anyway you look at it, he died because he was there. If he committed suicide, it was because his detention killed his spirit. If it wasn't suicide it could have been medical neglect. It could have been mistreatment by the guards. But at the end of the day he died because he was there."
Latif is neither the first nor the last man to die at Guantanamo Bay Prison. Two of the earlier deaths were from natural causes and six were designated as suicides, most of them by hanging.
On June 10, 2006 three prisoners Mani al-Utaybi, Yasser al-Zahrani, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed died in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camps. According to officials they had committed suicide.
Prison commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris stated, "This was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us." He also claimed that there was a myth among the detainees that if three detainees were known to have died in the camps the Department of Defense would be pressured to send the rest of the detainees home.
Before, Latif, two Afghan citizens 48-year-old, Awal Gul, who died in February 2011 of an apparent heart attack and 37year old Inayatullahwho “died of an apparent suicide,” on May 18th of the same year met the same fate.
Out of the 779 men held at Guantanamo, 167 still remain there. No one really knows what life holds for them but almost every one can guess. Guantanamo Bay is neither known for dispensing justice nor maintaining even the most basic of human rights. Those who remain there may do so for a long time to come, or find what has been an only means of escape so far... death. Dying is their only hope.
Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA executive director said it all when she issued a statement that read, “Mr. Latif’s story illustrates everything that is wrong with the failed Guantanamo experiment. President Obama must stop embracing indefinite detention and close the prison now.
“Eleven years after the tragedy of the September 11 attacks, it is well past time to close the book on human rights violations in the name of countering terrorism. It is high time to bring real justice to the victims and their families of these horrendous attacks by charging and trying the detainees in U.S. federal courts or release them to their families.”