Socialist Worker

Nightmare world where all rights are taken away

Issue No. 1943

Omar with his father, a trade unionist later murdered by the Libyan regime

Omar with his father, a trade unionist later murdered by the Libyan regime

The family of Omar Deghayes escaped from Libya in 1986 after years of persecution by Colonel Gadaffi’s regime. They came to Britain, since they had links to this country and used to visit Brighton every summer.

Omar was 11 years old at the time. Having been granted refugee status he settled down in Brighton, studying at local schools and eventually completing a law degree at Wolverhampton University.

Omar then went to visit Afghanistan. He met and married an Afghan woman. But after 9/11 and the threat of war, he decided to flee the country with his family.

Omar arrived in Pakistan, but while there he was arrested by Pakistani police. His wife and child were imprisoned and threatened with deportation to Libya by Gadaffi’s agents.

The Pakistani police handed Omar over to US military custody. He was first imprisoned in a cell in Islamabad, Pakistan, then taken to Bagram air base in Afghanistan, and then to Guantanamo Bay.

Omar has been interviewed by British intelligence officers. They accused him of visiting Chechnya and Iran. Both claims are false.

More recently Omar was visited by four Libyan officials, working with the US’s full cooperation. They accused him of being associated with the opposition to Gadaffi and threatened to take him back to Libya and kill him.

Clive Stafford Smith, Omar’s lawyer, recently revealed how Omar was blinded in one eye by US soldiers. He told a press conference last month, “In March 2004 the Emergency Reaction Force in Camp Delta came into his cell. They brought their pepper spray and held him down.

“They held both of his eyes open and sprayed it into his eyes, and later took a towel soaked in pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes.” An officer then pushed his finger in Omar’s right eye.

“He’s totally blind in the right eye,” says Stafford Smith. “I can report that his right eye is all white and milky — he can’t see out of it because he has been blinded by the US in Guantanamo.”

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Sat 19 Mar 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1943
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