“My life is like a dark hole, I cannot see the light. My life has changed since that night. Before that I was a very happy person, I was well-known amongst my friends. But since then I haven’t known happiness.â€¦”
This is Abdul Basit, a refugee from Afghanistan who now lives in London under asylum status. In April 2005 he was staying at a friend’s house in Pakistan when his life was completely turned upside down. He explains that he was arrested by Americans and then taken to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan where he was held in a basement prison for forty five days. For thirty of those days Abdul Basit was interrogated for twenty three hours a day:
“They would give me one hour to “rest” but it was only a trick. They would come back in under an hour screaming at me to get up. Then they would have me standing for many hours. They would get me to stare at a piece of tape on the floor also for hours on end. For the last ten days they put me in a room with the AC on full blast, water all over the floor and huge speakers playing crazy music with sounds of screaming women, children and animalsâ€¦ I was also regularly beaten over the head. I was not able to sleep for ten days and nights. I was then unconscious for two days and didn’t know what was happening to me. “
Abdul Basit was then moved to a regular prison and remained there for five years where he was not even able to see the sunshine. He then moved to Pakistan where he got married at the end of 2010 after his release. However, this was not the beginning of the happier life that Abdul Basit deserved as he encountered more difficulties and his brother was also captured by Pakistani intelligence.
Despite later moving to the UK Abdul Basit continues to suffer from numerous ailments and feels like he has a completely different personailty. He battles psychological issues for which he takes medication alongside poor sleep, physical pain in his legs and high cholesterol. His wife also experiences depression due to the impact of his arrests and the fact that she remains in Pakistan and he is in the UK. Abdul Basit’s torture and incarceration has not only damaged his life but those of his loved ones. This includes a three year old daughter who barely knows her father and another daughter who was born three months after he arrived in the UK and whom he has never held up until this day.
A brother who knew Abdul Basit could clearly see that he was in desperate need of help and so he introduced him to HHUGS and explained our work. As he explains, Abdul Basit was relieved to hear that an organisation exists which focuses on assisting individuals and their families who have suffered from ‘the war on terror”.
“Alhamdulillah, HHUGS are supporting me financially and they pay for my gym membership which is really helpful for me. As an asylum seeker the government is not helping that much to fulfil my needs. Alhamdulillah, HHUGS helps hundreds of families. I feel like HHUGS is a family, a nice community. I am very happy with them. They direct me with regards to my case and lawyers.”
Food vouchers are provided for Abdul Basit since his asylum seekers benefit does not adequately fulfil his needs and as further support we ensure Ramadan food packages are sent out to him. HHUGS also makes sure that emotional support is in place by holding regular meetings with brothers that Abdul Basit can be a part of. This is particularly crucial due to the psychological distress he has endured and continues to experience. HHUGS also cover Abdul Basit’s travel costs in order for him to attended professional counselling therapy.
Despite his extremely painful trials, Abdul Basit is able to speak in positive terms:
“Honestly, HHUGS are helping many families, many people, just like they are helping me. Alhamdulillah. I want to say to the Muslim community in the UK and around the world, to anyone who can hear or see me, that if they help an organisation like HHUGS they will be helping whole families. They honestly are helping people. It is my request to the Muslim community to help HHUGS and that they know they will be serving those families suffering from many, many problems. May Allah reward and help HHUGS.”