Tuesday, 4 August 2009

You Are Arrested

You are woken from a troubled sleep in the small hours of the morning by the sound of your front door being smashed to pieces and heavy-booted footsteps coming up your stairs. You hear a click which could be a gun being cocked. Your bedroom door bursts open and a rough pair of hands pulls a black hood over your head before your tired mind even realises that something is happening, while another pair drags you out of the sanctuary that is your bed and another twists your arms behind your back at an unnatural angle and binds them in metal. You cry for help, but you live alone; there is no one to help you. You are violently dragged downstairs and shoved forcibly into a car. You cannot see them, but you can feel the eyes of your neighbours watching out of their upstairs windows. They do nothing to help. You are still hooded; your hands are still restrained and your wrists feel like they could break at any moment if you move your arms. You are driven away from your home, you do not know where to but you can feel the vibration of the car under you taking you away from safety and security. Your captors do not speak, either to you or to each other; you are left alone with terrifying speculation about what sort of peril has been thrust upon you.

The car door opens, and you are dragged from the car by the arm – which only serves to put more strain on your wrist. You cry out in pain, attracting a response from one of your captors in the form of a chunk of cold metal striking the back of your head. Agony rips through your skull, and you lurch forward, drawing more pain from your arms which are still bound tightly behind your back, and fall to the floor, before being aggressively pulled back to your feet and dragged up a short flight of steps. You are pushed through a door into a building and led into a room.

The room is cold, the air pressure is slightly different and you can hear your footsteps echoing off the walls. You feel your body being patted down as if your captors are searching you – regardless of the fact that you are wearing only your underwear – and you are pushed down into a metal chair and the hood is pulled from your head, which is then shoved down by the man behind you so that you are looking down at the metal table in front of you. When you try to look up, the man behind you forces your head down again. Your hands are released from their metal bonds and you are told to place them on the table in front of you and keep them there until you are told otherwise. You are informed that you have been arrested as a suspect in an alleged bomb plot; you don’t have the faintest clue what they are talking about. You are told that under terrorism legislation, you can be kept in detention for a month and a half without contact with the outside world – including a lawyer – while your captors who you now know to be the police gather evidence, and when (not if) you are found guilty, you can legally be executed. You are offered a chance to make the process quicker and easier and potentially reduce your sentence by confessing and giving the police information on the target and your fellow conspirators. Because in reality there is no such plot – but of course the only response you would ever get to that suggestion from your interrogators would be the classic ‘that’s what they all say’ – you can do nothing but remain silent. You are told to stand up, and dragged by your traumatised arms to a holding cell.

Early the next morning, instead of breakfast, you are taken to a different room, colder than before, where you are hooded and handcuffed again, and a pair of stereo earphones put on your head which play a constant ringing noise similar to tinnitus and block out all other sound. After half an hour of this, you are told that you can go back to your cell if you tell your interrogator what he wants to know – what your target was, and who your compatriots were. Again, you have nothing to tell him. The earphones are put back on your head; the process is repeated several times before you are taken back to your cell and given a slice of bread to eat and a plastic cup of warm water to drink. In the afternoon, you are taken to another room where your interrogator gives you an opportunity to confess your guilt, before he shoves your head into a bucket of water, holds it there for thirty seconds and pulls it back out suddenly by the hair, and again gives you an opportunity to confess. When you decline, he dunks you in the bucket again. And again. And again.

This daily routine is continued for longer than you can keep track – although the sensory deprivation is replaced with physical beatings in the final week or so – before you are informed that because of the lack of evidence, you are to be released from police custody... and deported. Back to your war-torn home country where you are as likely as not to be raped and brutally murdered.
You are hooded again and bundled into the back of a van with no windows, and after an hour’s journey, led into a new building which is to be your involuntary home for the next two weeks. Those two weeks are slightly more pleasant than your police detention; beatings by the guards are less frequent (but still horrific and fairly commonplace), there is no systematic torture (although the guards seem to love to make you miserable anyway), and there are fellow deportees to talk to.
At the end of those two weeks, you are handcuffed again and led onto a small aircraft with nobody else on it but the pilot, co-pilot and your two guards. Nobody to see your scars, your broken bones, your mutilations.

You are never heard from again.

And nobody seems to care.

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