Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Poems from Guantanamo

From the just released collection "Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak", here are three poems that were reprinted on Boston.com:

DEATH POEM by Jumah Al Dossari, a 33-year-old Bahraini national who has been held at Guantánamo Bay for more than five years. He has been subjected to a range of physical and psychological abuses, held in solitary confinement since the end of 2003, and has tried to kill himself 12 times:

Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace."


HUMILIATED IN THE SHACKLES, by Sami al Haj, a journalist and Sudanese national covering the conflict in Afghanistan for the television station al-Jazeera. He was taken into custody in 2001 and stripped of his passport and press card. Haj was handed over to US forces in January 2002, tortured at both Bagram air base and Kandahar and then shipped off to Guantánamo Bay in June 2002:

When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely about the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize my attention
Like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an evil snake,
Carry hypocrisy in its mouth like venom.
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
Bush, beware.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.


IS IT TRUE? by Osama Abu Kabir, a Jordanian water truck driver who worked for the municipality of Greater Amman. Kabir joined an Islamic missionary organization called Jama'at al-Tablighi, and traveled to Afghanistan. He was detained by anti-Taliban forces and subsequently handed over to the US military, who moved him to Guantanamo:

Is it true that the grass grows up again after the rain?
Is it true that the flowers will rise up in the spring?
Is it true that birds will migrate home again?
Is it true that the salmon swim back up their stream?
It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.
But is it true that one day we'll leave Guantánamo Bay?
Is it true that one day we'll go back to our homes?
I sail in my dreams, I am dreaming of homes.
To be with my children, each one part of me;
To be with my wife and the ones that I love;
To be with my parents, my world's tenderest hearts.
I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.
But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?
We are innocent, here, we've committed no crime.
Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still
Justice and compassion remain in this world!

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