MPs call for former Guantanamo detainee Ravil Mingazov to be reunited with his family in the UK

Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Ravil Mingazov
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Six MPs have written to home secretary Suella Braverman appealing for Ravil Mingazov, a Russian former Guantanamo inmate, to be able to reunite with his family in the UK. Moreover, United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities are currently holding Mingazov without charge or trial. So, alongside the letter from the MPs, advocacy group CAGE is launching a campaign for his freedom.

Release from UAE prison

The signatories to the letter, dated 17 August, include the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. They also include former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and Labour MP John McDonnell. Mingazov’s son Yusuf is a constituent of Labour MP Apsana Begum, who is also a signatory, and whose office submitted the letter to the home secretary.

In 2002, Mingazov was abducted in Pakistan. He spent 15 years – without charge or trial – in Guantanamo. After the US finally released Mingazov in January 2017, he came to the UAE. However, when he arrived, UAE authorities detained him without clear explanation. He’s been incarcerated in the Al Razeen prison in Abu Dhabi ever since, and the authorities now plan to repatriate him to Russia.

The letter from MPs expressed concern regarding these plans, noting:

The abuse former Guantanamo detainees have suffered in Russia has been well-documented by Human Rights Watch and other NGOs. Mr Mingazov was never charged with any crime before, during or after his his detention at Guantanamo.

If Mr Mingazov is repatriated to Russia, he will face serious persecution

It added that returning Mingazov to Russia would breach the UN Convention against Torture. Plans to repatriate Mingazov to Russia have also received condemnation from UN human rights experts.

Read on...

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Ravil Mingazov: separated from family

CAGE’s head of public advocacy Anas Mustapha said:

Ravil Mingazov was tortured and held without charge or trial by the US. He was misled when the US failed to guarantee his freedom upon his transfer to the UAE where he has been imprisoned since. His son has appealed to the Home Office in 2015 to bring his father home but was refused. MP’s are right to request he is granted access once again in the face of the imminent threat of torture facing Mr Mingazov.

The US State Department and Senior Representative of Guantanamo Affairs Tina Kaidanow must also right this wrong by ensuring that Ravil is released and reunited with his son in the UK.

The letter to the home secretary noted that an application from Mingazov to enter the UK had received no response:

Mr Mingazov made an application for leave to enter the United Kingdom on 10th August 2015, through his legal representatives Thompson HD. Thompson HD advise that the Home Office acknowledged receipt on 24th September 2015 but have not responded since.

It concluded with an appeal from the MPs:

We are requesting that you meet with us and urgently contact the UAE to ask that Mr Mingazov not be repatriated to Russia, and that you immediately consider granting his application to enter and remain in the UK, and be reunited with his son and family.

Yusuf, Mingazov’s son, told CAGE:

I don’t remember much about my father. But I mostly know about him from my mother, he would tell her how she should raise me. To teach me manners, help those in need, to give to others, those who are disabled and elderly to support them. She said he wouldn’t hurt a fly, if there were insects in our home he wouldn’t kill it but remove it, without harming it. He was a very gentle, kind and smart person.

I have heard the same good things about him from many people, beyond just my family, such as his friends in Russia also. When I began to speak to him through the Red Cross, I would find the same characteristics in him. In those conversations, he would try and teach me, almost as if to compensate for the things he missed in my childhood.

Victims of the war on terror

Mansoor Adayfi, Guantanamo project coordinator at CAGE, was also held in Guantanamo for 15 years. He said about Mingazov:

I met Sa’eed (Ravil Mingazov) in Guantanamo Bay for the first time when we were protesting in 2003. He was a very polite and sensitive person. He joined us on the hunger strike actions we took to protest our detention. He was targeted by the guards because he tried to convince other brothers to join us.

A press release from CAGE, announcing their campaign for Mingazov’s release, read:

The case of Ravil Mingazov underlines significant failures in the US strategy for transferring prisoners from Guantanamo. While Mingazov’s case exemplifies some of the more egregious violations of agreements within the transfer arrangements involving former detainees, numerous other prisoners continue to grapple with formidable challenges, detentions and dire poverty..

It went on to add:

The Biden administration’s appointment of seasoned diplomat Tina Kaidanow as the Senior Representative for Guantanamo Affairs signals a shift towards closing the facility. As part of this responsibility, addressing historical injustices becomes crucial, including urgent intervention in the case of Ravil Mingazov.

The letter from MPs to the home secretary also makes a case for the UK to intervene and help Mingazov reunite with his family.  Whether Braverman and the current UK government will act to correct this historical injustice of the US and UK’s post-9/11 ‘war on terror’, however, remains to be seen.

Featured mage via Pxhere/CAGE

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