In Closing | Prisoner 345 | My Six Years in Guantánamo

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What happened after I landed in Khartoum is well-documented. Crowds were waiting to greet me and cameras watching as I took my first steps as a free man back in my country. In a sense, I was lucky they were there because that entire time was a blank for me and my first memory in Sudan is waking up in the hospital a couple of days after my return.

I had been so weak, my body so degraded that I had lost consciousness in the airport, and was transported immediately to hospital. There, I opened my eyes and saw my wife for the first time in seven years. And there, I saw my son running towards me, a sight that that moved me and brought me to tears as I took him in my arms. I held him close, then pulled back to look at his face, it was such a wondrous sight.

Suddenly, as I sat there with Mohammad in my arms, I realised that part of my amazement was that not only had I not seen my child for seven years, I hadn’t seen any children at all. How sad, how pathetic that moment of realisation was when it struck me how truly awful the place I had been in was.

After a few days in the hospital, I was able to watch the video that had been recorded of me walking into Khartoum airport. I was finally able to see my haggard face walking towards all the anxious faces raised eagerly to greet me, and to see the moment when I collapsed under the weight of my emotions, my frail body failing me.

What remains to be told about my Guantánamo story is precisely that it is not just my story alone. There were more than eight hundred detainees in that hellish prison, each of us lived through it his way, each of us has a different story. What we lived through was our pain and our suffering – injustice, oppression, humiliation and persecution.

I end my story with prayers to My Dear One who I haven’t met, but whose mediation I pray for on the day of final judgment and sanction. I raise my prayers for my mother and father who I wished could have prayed for me during my ordeal, but they passed away before I was released. I raise my thanks to my family at Al Jazeera, and to the honourable media community and to free people everywhere who supported me. To all of you, I raise my thanks and pray the Lord to bless you always.

I dedicate my story of injustice and affliction to you all.

About the Author: Sami Alhaj

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