Abdul Aziz Naji
In July of 2010, the Obama administration transferred Mr. Naji to Algeria, against his will. On November 3, 2010, Mr. Naji's legal team—Ellen Lubell and Doris Tennant—issued the following update on their client, including a request for funds to cover mental health care and a prosthetic leg. The excellent prosthetic Mr. Naji was wearing when he was turned over to the U.S. was broken during his torture, and the U.S. replaced it with one that fit so badly that he was unable to walk. His original prosthetic leg was never returned to him.
We’ve been in regular phone contact with Aziz and his family since his return to Algeria. While he is holding up reasonably well in light of what he’s been through, he is suffering from depression, anxiety and other symptoms consistent with post traumatic stress disorder. He is also in need of medical attention relating to his amputation. Job prospects are poor for many fully-abled young people in Algeria, so finding employment is not even an option now for Aziz.
Regrettably, Aziz does not have a valid identity card and we understand from his brothers that it can take months or years to obtain a new card. This leaves him, at present, disqualified from receiving any assistance from the Algerian government. We asked officials at the US State Department to provide minimal assistance for Aziz, hoping, perhaps naively, that they might consider their humanitarian responsibilities. We did not even receive a response. Aziz’s family has very limited resources and, although they are doing their best to support him, his health needs are far beyond their means. With no employment history for the past 8 years, no financial resources, and considerable health needs, it is difficult to imagine how Aziz will be able to reintegrate into society as the productive young man he had hoped to become.
In addition to the limited emotional support we can offer to Aziz by keeping in touch, we have been working over the past three months to identify human rights organizations that are willing to provide some degree of financial or in-kind assistance to meet his overwhelming needs. We have also been trying to locate providers in or near the city of Batneh, where Aziz lives with his family, who are capable of providing medical and mental health care.
So far, we have managed with the kind assistance of Amnesty International and the London-based charity Reprieve, to arrange for Aziz to see an orthopedist in Algiers. The orthopedist measured him for the new prosthetic leg he desperately needs and has recommended an appropriate model. We have also found two physicians in Batneh, who have offered to arrange for the follow-up care and physical therapy that he will require for normal mobility with the new leg. We have asked Aziz’s brothers to identify mental health providers in Batneh, and we have spoken with them and with Aziz directly about the importance of his getting mental health care. We are encouraging this gently, well aware that there is a stigma attached to mental health problems in their culture, but we believe it’s critical that he get help.
We were hoping that in addition to finding a funder, we could find a charitable organization willing simply to receive contributions made on Aziz’s behalf and transfer those funds to care providers in Algeria. If we had found such an organization, we could have stepped away from some of the many roles we’ve been trying to play, and donors could have looked forward to taking a tax deduction on their contributions. The responses we received from organizations we approached, however, were essentially: “We wish we could, but it’s administratively too complex,” or “We just don’t have the staffing.” Unfortunately, we’ll have to do without.
You have been wonderful in supporting our efforts over the past four years to provide legal assistance to Aziz, and we could not be more grateful. Given the tough economy and our past requests for support, we approach you now with hesitation; but our work is not yet done. Until we can give Aziz a reasonable chance to rebuild his life, he remains effectively imprisoned by his disabilities, both physical and emotional.
A new prosthetic leg for Aziz is estimated to cost approximately $6,000, and the follow-up care and other health services he requires will likely run $4,000 more. We appeal, again, to your generosity as we try to raise these funds. Because there are no intermediary organizations involved, every dollar we receive will go to pay Aziz’s care providers; but as before, your contributions will not be tax-deductable.
If you wish to contribute*, please make your check out to Tennant Lubell Medical Support Fund and send it to us at our office at:
Tennant Lubell, LLC
288 Walnut Street
Newton, MA 02460.
Whether or not you are able to contribute, we have appreciated your steadfast concern and overwhelming generosity over the years. We have been privileged to do this work and to have your support.
With all our thanks,
Ellen Lubell and Doris Tennant
*Please email us to let us know you contributed.