Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Example of Moral Courage: Nadja Dizdarevic


Nadja Dizdarevic 


Nadja Dizdarevic (Nađa Dizdarević) is the name of woman who lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mother of four, she wasn't even thirty years old when her husband, Hadj Boudella, a Muslim of Algerian descent, and five other Algerians living in Bosnia were arrested on October 21, 2001, after US authorities informed the Bosnian government of an alleged plot to blow up the American and British Embassies in Sarajevo. One of the suspects in this alleged plot had (supposedly) placed some seventy phone calls to the Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in the days immediately following September 11th WTC tower attacks. 

At the request of the US government, the Bosnians held these six men for three months. No charges were filed against them. No evidence was ever presented to substantiate any of the claims made against them. On January 17, 2002, the Bosnian Supreme Court ruled that they should be released. But as the men left prison, they were kidnapped, handcuffed, forced to put on surgical masks with nose clips, their heads covered in hoods, and they were forced into unmarked cars by masked men, some of whom were wearing uniforms of the Bosnian special forces. Nadja Dizdarevic had come to the prison that day to meet her husband, Hadj Boudella, and recognized him, despite the hood, because he was wearing a new suit that she had brought him the day before. "I will never forget that night," she said. "It was snowing. I was screaming for someone to help." A crowd gathered and tried to block the vehicles, but didn't succeed. The suspects were taken to a military airbase and kept in a freezing hangar for hours; one member of the group later claimed that he saw one of his abductors remove his Bosnian uniform, revealing that he was an American. The US government has refused to confirm or deny that it was involved in the kidnapping, but the men were immediately turned over to the Americans.

Six days after her husband's abduction, Nadja Dizdarevic found out that her husband and the 5 other men had been sent to the US detention facility in Guantánamo Bay where he was held for the next 6 years. During his 6 years at Guantánamo, Nadja organized demonstrations, sit-ins, and hunger strikes, to draw public attention to her husband's case. During her last hunger strike, in December 2005, Dizdarevic collapsed and was hospitalized. She did anything and everything she could to draw attention to her husband's case and his innocence. Wouldn't you do the same if you were in her position? If not, then why not

When Boudella attempted to plead his innocence before a Pentagon Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he asked that the Bosnian Supreme Court's verdict exonerating him and freeing him, be read to the court. The tribunal said that it was "unable to locate" a copy of the verdict. No evidence was ever presented against Boudella at his "trial", only a list of "allegations" (link), none of which could be proven. 

On 20 November 2008 US Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that Mr. Boudella and four of the other five men with whom he was arrested, was not being lawfully held and ordered his release because the U.S. had absolutely no credible evidence to justify their detentions. In telephone interviews, Nadja Dizdarevic called on Bosnian authorities to follow up with a demand to the United States that the men be released immediately. On 16 December, 2008, Boudella al Hadj and two other men were released back to Bosnia, never having been formerly charged with, or tried for, any crimes. By the presumption of innocence (a cornerstone of the American system of justice), they are not guilty of any crimes, and they never have been. The three men are Mustafa Ait Idir, Mohamed Nechla, and Hadj Boudella. They are all free men now, as they deserve to be. 

Ms. Dizdarevic said that she was astounded that her husband could be seized without charge or trial, at his home, during peacetime, and after his own government had exonerated him. The term "enemy combatant" perplexed her. "He is an enemy of whom?" she asked. "In combat where?" She said that her view of America had changed. "I have not changed my opinion about its people, but unfortunately I have changed my opinion about its respect for human rights," she said. "It is no longer the leader in the world. It has become the leader in the violation of human rights." 

Some of this is may be hearsay, but there are certain things that we know for sure. What do we know for sure??? 

We know that Hadj Boudella was an innocent man. He was held for seven years without charges being filed. We know that was absolutely un-American. I'm not claiming that was was a violation of Boudell's "civil rights." The US government claims that, even as an innocent man, he has no rights if accused (even without evidence or without judicial process). Boudella' imprisonment without charges or trial was not a violation of his civil rights, hear me now: it was a violation of the very most basic American principles of justice. It was a violation of my principles, and I hope, yours.  I'm saying that my principles (and I hope, your principles) were spat upon, were crapped on. 

I'm not concerned about Hadj Boudella; he's a free man. He's also an innocent man who was imprisoned by the United States military, illegally and unjustly, for seven years. But I'm not concerned about him. He's a free man now. I'm not concerned about Nadja Dizdarevic, either. She won her courageous fight for her husband's freedom. She's a heroine. That's something no one can take from her; ever. 

I'm concerned about Americans; and what happened to their country. They betrayed their own stated principles; which remain my principles; they failed themselves. 
___