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The Independent: 'Life with a control order: a wife's story'

The Independent: 'Life with a control order: a wife's story'

Categories: Latest News

Friday July 03 2009

Dina Al Jnidi, the wife of Mahmoud Abu Rideh (pictured), a suspect detained on secret evidence and kept under a control order, writes a harrowing piece in The Independent today on the injustices of detention without charge, secret evidence, the control order regime and the trauma inflicted on an innocent family.

It is still fresh in my mind the day the police came to arrest my husband – it was the 19 December 2001. They broke down the door and forced their way into our home while I was still in my night dress. They were pointing their guns in my face and in the children’s faces. There were about 30 armed officers. They forced my husband to the floor and handcuffed him, pressing down on his back and neck with their knees as he screamed in pain. They yelled: “Shut up you f***ing terrorist!” I implored the police to stop because my husband suffers from back pain. All this was in view of my children who were terrified; they were crying, shaking, many had wet themselves.

‘After two days we were allowed to return home. The local newspaper had taken pictures of our house. The headlines read something like: “Terrorist raid”. After this article I had my face veil forcibly removed three times. We also had rubbish thrown at our front door.

‘Eventually I swapped my home because our neighbours had resorted to spitting at me. Prior to the arrest of my husband and the raid on our home, we had never had any trouble with our neighbours. The police have caused this problem which led to our victimisation.’

‘My husband used to call and often he would be crying due to the torture and the discrimination he was facing. My children, too, would cry. The effect of all this torture, discrimination, and detention without charge or trial drove my husband insane, angry and psychologically mad.

‘While at Broadmoor, he was frequently attacked by staff, nurses and other prisoners. I could not visit him there. I tried, but whenever I went I was told he was in isolation, in solitary confinement.

‘Broadmoor was far from our home, it was difficult travelling with five children only to be sent home.

‘It was around this time that my husband began to self-harm. He drank detergents, he used pens to dig deep into his arms.

‘He was finally released in 2005. We were given only two hours’ notice before his return. We were pleased to have him back home, but did not know the full extent of the conditions that would be placed on him. I did not know what a control order was. He had to wear an electronic tag around his ankle. He had to report in several times a day (including the middle of the night) using special equipment that had been placed in our home. We were not allowed to have a digital camera in the home, nor other basic items such as USB sticks, memory cards or MP3 players. Our children were not allowed to use the internet or have a computer. We were not allowed visitors unless they had been cleared by the Home Office after a rigorous vetting procedure. Many would not even call for fear of being harassed by the police or worse.

‘My husband was a wreck, a shattered man. He could not sleep, he would sweat and shake, he would have nightmares and flashbacks. It was almost impossible to deal with him. He was ill and had complex psychological needs – I am not a trained nurse and he required specialist help. One week later he attempted suicide by taking an overdose of his depression and anti-psychotic medications. I found him on the floor unconscious, in a pool of vomit foam coming from his mouth. He was taken to the hospital and remained unconscious for three days.

‘My life is ruined. I cannot sleep. I cry so much. It is having an effect on my children. I blame Tony Blair, the House of Lords, the Queen, the politicians, Parliament. They all have a have a hand in this. I am British. So are my children. Why, then, is it acceptable for us to be treated in this manner? The police came many times to search my house, violating the sanctity that is a home. What do they expect to find among my clothes and my children’s clothes? They confiscated money, a Nintendo Wii, a Playstation, a PSP. The Nintendo Wii was a gift from my husband’s solicitor to our children. Despite numerous requests, none of these items have been returned to us. Why? Are my children not allowed the things everyone else’s children are?

‘I want to know how the majority of Christians in Britain prepare and share joy at the christening of their newborn children. Am I exempt from sharing my happiness with friends and family? Should I too not be allowed to show off my precious gift to others? Am I subhuman? I want to ask the politicians, the Queen – would this not affect you?

‘I tried to remain hopeful many times. But there is no hope. My husband has been charged with no crime, he has not been interviewed or interrogated. He has been presumed guilty because he is Muslim – for what other reason could it be? Please explain to me and my family – why have we had to endure this treatment? Pets are treated better than we have been. Is this the humanity you profess, is this the justice you want to spread?

‘Judge Ousley ordered and ruled that the Home Office should release the secret evidence that is held against my husband. But the Home Office appealed this decision and it has been a long time and nothing has been heard or seen.

‘On or around the 19 February this year, the European Courts of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights declared that the secret evidence being used against my husband be released to him and his solicitors. They said the control order should be lifted and that my husband should receive compensation for his unfair treatment. What is the point of these courts if Britain makes a mockery of them and refuses to submit to their judgment?

‘There is no justice. We have lost all hope of justice.

‘My family, especially our children, are scared of the police. The have suffered at the hands of the police. Their education has suffered. They have not been able to complete homework, they are at a disadvantage compared to other children as they are not allowed to access the internet. I have three girls in secondary school and three boys in primary school. I was attending college to study childcare. We all require a computer.

‘My husband was re-arrested for alleged breaches of his control order on at least four different occasions. Once he was arrested for having the Nintendo Wii which was the gift to our children. Once it was for having “mobile phones” in the home – they were actually toys purchased from the pound shop.

‘We, as a family, are dead. We are sick of the police and the Government’s torture of our family that has gone on for eight years. Our family has been held hostage in Britain. My husband and I escaped torture at the hand of the Israelis to find worse torture in the UK. I now find myself in another country – J ordan – where I have sought asylum from the torture that Britain has placed me and my family under.

‘Psychiatrists from the Home Office advised me to divorce my husband, saying it would be better for me and my children. Scotland Yard on many occasions also told me this. What kind of twisted advice is this? Would this really be better for me and my children? Or are they looking for more reasons to drive my husband to suicide?

‘I would like to tell the British Government and the rest of the world, I would like to tell
anyone who has a heart, anyone who has an ounce of humanity – please allow my husband to leave the United Kingdom.

‘Please provide him with the necessary documents to go to any country, where there may be at least some hope of seeing him again – before I lose him for good and our children lose their father.

Let us hope Dina’s anguished plea reminds the courts that at the receiving end of bad laws are innocent victims and their families who look to the legal system to come to their assistance and uphold justice.

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