After spending two decades of their lives in the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center without any charge or trial, two Pakistani brothers were finally sent home by the US authorities on Thursday, February 23.
Abdul Rabbani (55) and Mohammad Rabbani (53) were first arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2002 from Karachi and were later transferred to the US intelligence agency CIA’s custody, finally ending up in Guantanamo Bay.
They were accused by the US of helping Al-Qaeda operatives by providing them with shelter and other logistical support. However, they were never charged or tried formally.
Both brothers have accused the CIA of torturing them in custody before transferring them to Guantanamo Bay.
The detention center at Guantanamo Bay was first established under George W Bush’s administration in the US as a part of the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’ after the September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the objective of bypassing legal obligations related to detainees.
According to reports, at least 779 people have been detained in the facility so far, which has been illegally built on an occupied part of Cuba. Over the years, many prisoners have been transferred to third countries or repatriated, especially after global media attention was directed at the human rights violations taking place there following the publication of the Gitmo files by Wikileaks.
According to the AP, there are 32 more detainees in Guantanamo Bay, of whom 18 are “eligible” for transfer—meaning they are not facing any charges or trial and will be transferred once countries willing to take them are found.
Nine of the detainees are facing trials and only two of them are convicted.
In a statement on Thursday, the US Defense Department claimed that the repatriation of the two Pakistanis was a part of attempts to reduce the “detainee population and ultimately [close] the Guantanamo Bay facility,” AP reported.
President Joe Biden has promised to shut down the facility by 2024. Barack Obama had also promised that he would close Guantanamo Bay during his 2008 run for the US presidency.