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Article regarding condition of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan

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    Assalamu alaikum, Jailed Taliban: Take Us To U.S.! Conditions At Afghan Prison Prompt Unusual Taliban Request SHIBERGAN, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2002 - By Brian
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2002

      Jailed Taliban: Take Us To U.S.!

      Conditions At Afghan Prison Prompt Unusual Taliban Request

      SHIBERGAN, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2002 - By Brian Murphy


      (AP) Jailed fighters of the fallen Taliban shout the name of their former
      foe, but no longer in anger. "We want to go to an American prison," many

      Anything, they say, to leave Shibergan prison in northern Afghanistan, now
      jammed to more than 10 times its capacity with about 3,500 men. But unlike
      the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, this has been a prison
      largely out of the spotlight.

      "I can't lie and say it's fine. The problems are clearly visible," said
      the head warden, Gen. Jurabeg, who uses only one name. "We are

      While human rights advocates and some U.S. allies have complained about
      the conditions at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, the
      situation in Shibergan is much more dire.

      In addition to overcrowding, prisoners have to deal with shortages of
      medical supplies and care, water, food and there is little to protect them
      from the elements. Facing bitter cold outside and inside, they have just
      the clothes they were wearing when they were captured. Many don't have

      The mud-walled compound provides a lesson of sorts: with local militiamen
      in charge in much of Afghanistan, there's an ad hoc approach toward
      rank-and-file Taliban prisoners.

      "From region to region, there are different ways Afghan authorities are
      dealing with Taliban prisoners," said Samuel Emonet, who heads the Red
      Cross team inspecting detention facilities in the region. "Shibergan
      stands out because of its size and the uncertainty of what will happen to
      the prisoners."

      The prison about 75 miles west of Mazar-e-Sharif is controlled by the
      forces of Gen. Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek who rules much of northern
      Afghanistan. He and other militia leaders are under international pressure
      to help build a credible central authority in Kabul.

      But Dostum still apparently answers to no one about many aspects of his

      Prison doctors have begged for medicine from Dostum's military hospital in
      Shibergan. Only a few boxes of antibiotics and rehydration salts have been
      sent to Shibergan, one of the largest detention camps in the country.

      An official at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
      supplies are critically low and there is little money to buy more. "The
      Taliban prisoners are not a priority," he said.

      Nearly a third of the prisoners at Shibergan are suffering from chronic
      dysentery and other gastric problems, doctors said.

      "We have no medicine. It couldn't be worse," said Dr. Abdul Bashir, one of
      four prison physicians. "No, let me correct that. I will get worse when
      the weather gets warmer. We could be seeing things as bad as cholera."

      Under its mandate as a neutral watchdog of prison conditions, the Red
      Cross cannot provide a steady supply of food or medicine - and both are
      short. It does arrange daily deliveries of 5,200 gallons of water, well
      below what's needed, doctors say.

      "This is not a crisis?" asked Bashir. "We just can't take care of the

      The worst cases - mostly bronchitis and tuberculosis - are sent to the
      military hospital. Others are placed on feces-stained beds or on straw
      mats in the prison clinic. One inmate carried another who had blacked out
      from high blood pressure. He was put on the floor, but there was no way to
      treat him.

      Many prisoners see their former enemy as a possible savior.

      "The United States should help us. How can the world ignore us?" pleaded
      Maqsoud Khan, 26, who is among about 1,100 Pakistani prisoners in

      Khan wrapped himself in a blue blanket donated by the Red Cross. But it
      offered little warmth against a bitter cold wind, which froze the puddles
      and hardened the mud in the prison yard. There are no prison uniforms -
      only the clothes the men wore when they were captured as U.S.-backed
      forces retook northern Afghanistan in November.

      The fortunate ones have black plastic slippers supplied by the Red Cross.
      Others are barefoot.

      After an hour in the prison yard, the prisoners are herded back to their
      quarters: bare six-by-nine foot rooms where up to 60 men try to sleep on
      icy cold concrete floors. Latrines empty into fetid swamps.

      There were no claims of torture or specific abuse. The prisoners spoke,
      however, of another type of agony: uncertainty about the future.

      Hundreds of Taliban fighters have been freed around Afghanistan under an
      ill-defined amnesty encouraged by the interim government. But there have
      been no such releases from Shibergan.

      "Will we be held here forever? No one can tell us," said an Afghan
      prisoner, Qari Habib Rahman. "We were simple fighters. We know nothing
      about the Taliban leaders."

      U.S. interrogators, seeking Taliban leaders and members of Osama bin
      Laden's al-Qaida terror network, moved several dozen prisoners from
      Shibergan last month, the warden said.

      A commander for Dostum's forces said all the other prisoners would remain
      at Shibergan until the American investigations are complete. In
      Washington, Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem confirmed this week that "initial
      interrogations" were being conducted in Shibergan and elsewhere.

      Some say the conditions at Shibergan are the United States' business.

      "The United States cannot wash its hands of responsibility for prisoners
      whose fate from the start it has been in a position to influence or
      determine," said a report by a delegation for the Physicians for Human
      Rights, who visited Shibergan earlier this month.

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