As a political prisoner, I was left naked in my cell with only a blanket, a thin mattress, a pot to urinate in and a bible. I was not allowed to participate in recreational activities. If us political prisoners wore the uniform, we were only entitled to one visit a month, and an opportunity to attend mass.
My participation in the hunger strike did not have a lasting psychological effect on me as I had a purpose, belief and a goal to aim for. On the other hand, my health has not fully recovered to this day. In the early days following my hunger strike, the movement of my body became very robotic and I weighed seven stone. However, this is no longer the case, my eyesight was permanently damaged which subsequently affected his balance resulting in him feeling nauseous. My sense of smell heightened that I could even smell the water I drank, which made it extremely difficult for me to drink it. I learnt to deal with it.
In 1987, I was on the camp staff, me and other political prisoners decided to up our protest. This brought along changes such as the right to an education and use of CD players. The atmosphere in prison from 1987 to 1992 had completely changed, at that point in my sentence, I was able to dialogue with prison governors and guards about issues such as food and education. We used the Irish language to communicate. We would shout through our doors to pass information and news to one another. It became a revolutionary act to learn the Irish language.
Adjusting back to reality was confusing at times, for instance I recalls using £5 & £10 notes rather than using smaller change because I did not want to make a mistake. I also felt timid when crossing roads due to the speed of traffic, however I came to terms with these new experiences quickly.
I was tricked. I was told that I was going home but instead I was handed in to the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance rewarded the people that betrayed me, I was subsequently sold again to the kabul government.
There were no actual charges brought to the prisoners. They accused them of being part of a non-defined terrorist group and participating in terrorist activities.
In the early days, as the first prisoners in Bakran, interrogators were instructed to do whatever they could to get as much information as possible from prisoners. They tortured us in every way. I would be sleep deprived for 9 consecutive days and stand for 18 – 20 hours a day. We would be tied up in uncomfortable positions, heads would be banged off the wall, no food, starving, no access to a toilet, stripped naked in front of everybody.
In this camp prisoners were isolated, screaming and shouting was useless. Guards used lighting generators which kept running 24/7 and audio devices to generate white noise. A systematic torture regime designed to destroy them physically, mentally and spiritually. Even the the air in the cells was controlled.
I spent 14 years in Guantanamo and never stopped fighting for my freedom.
I was charged for criminal terrorism and had a 7 day detention in order to interrogate me. I went through refined form of torture. The RUC detectives were well trained in using techniques not to leave any marks on the victim. Torture was part physical and mental as well as humiliating the victim and mental abuse. There was a deblock court system also known as the inverted rules of evidence. I had no jury, just one judge. A statement would be made by a defendant or prisoner, the persecution had to prove that the statement was made under legal terms and voluntary. It was left to the defendant that he didn’t make any incriminating statement. He refused to make a statement.
I refused to accept this designation, to prevent defining the narrative for our people, not to review the conflict as a criminal enterprise and wanted to send the message to the world.
When you were selected to go on hunger strike, it was like you were prepared to die if necessary but you don’t want to die. It lasted for 53 days. We were then betrayed from the British authorities and two months later we started another hunger strike. After 40 days hunger striking, you begin to really feel the hunger and was tormented by thoughts of food. Physical aspects is being hungry for 7/8 days and feeling cold.
I can’t see my struggle has continued. I still believes that they have a battle on for workers republic. To overcome sectarianism to adjust the needs for working people and various issues facing people such as homelessness and the health service. I believes that these are due to the type of societies that they have created for themselves both the republic of Ireland and northern Ireland. I also believes that they need to set up an all-Ireland republic. I doesn’t think I have changed. I am still working politically and my struggle has never ended for the last 40 years.
They said that they were not responsible for what had occurred to me and advised me that the only way out was by cooperating. I recalls asking them to reassure me that my family is safe and also if they can provide me with diplomatic and legal representation, however I was faced with a refusal.
The entirety of my incarceration time was 3 years. At no point was I charged with any crime.
The sergeant screamed ‘’you are now the property of the US’’. Terms like enemy belligerent, enemy alien and enemy combatant were used to dehumanise us.
Detainees of Guantanamo were stripped of all their rights, in fact an iguana had more rights than they did under the endangered species act. My stay in Guantanamo was more destructive as I spent all my time alone. My day was categorised into 5, dictated by my 5 daily prayers, however there is only so much one could pray, so I spent my time writing poetry and lists of things from books I wanted to read to words from every language I spoke. Even a pen was regarded as a security risk. I wrote letters to family even though I knew it would take from 6 months to a year for it to be received if it is delivered at all. I did not have any contact with family because all the letters I received would be heavily censored. I conversed with the guards who became lifelong friends, they brought me contraband like chocolate and fish.