Global Events Mark 6th Anniversary of Gitmo Gulag
Today is a terrible birthday. 11 January 2002 was the birth of America’s own torture gulag: the “detainee camps” for “unlawful enemy combatants” at the U.S. Marine Base at Guantanemo Bay, Cuba. Here the Bush administration has held people for years without charges, mostly without access to lawyers or contact with families or any human rights investigation except the International Red Cross. Bush has labelled these prisoners “detainees” and “enemy combatants” in an effort to circumvent the Geneva Conventions on the capture and treatment of prisoners of war. It has located this prison outside the U.S. proper in an attempt to deny the prisoners any recourse to the courts. When they have had legal representation it has been with so many restrictions that no fair defense could be given–defendants unable to see the evidence against them, nor confront their accusers and a presumption of guilt. Among the over 700 prisoners have been children and old people that even the government admits were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time–as well as people picked up by Afghani warlords and/or Pakistani police and accused and sold to the U.S. on what would be hearsay evidence in any normal court. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (during the time the GOP still controlled Congress) stripped detainees of the right of Habeas corpus that had been established for them in the heroic Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case (and for everyone else in the English speaking world since the time of the Magna Carta !). Credible evidence exists, though the government denies it, that detainees have been regularly tortured. It’s time to shut this horror down, charge and try in regular courts the detainees or repatriate them. This must end!
Make no mistake: SOME of these detainees are probably what the Bushies claim: Al Qaeda and Taliban members who have been actively involved in terrorist actions or plots. They still deserve the same human rights protections as everyone else. And we should never accept ANY government’s blanket claims about people without public trials, open evidence, fair legal representation, etc. And then, IF found guilty, punishment must also conform to U.S. (the 8th Amendment protection against “cruel and unusual punishment”) and international human rights standards (protections against cruel, inhumane, and/or degrading treatment).
Stories on the protests worldwide are here. Good op-ed pieces are here, here, & here. There are excellent public statements today by Amnesty International , Code Pink, the American Civil Liberties Union, Peace Action, and Witness Against Torture. People around the world are urged to wear orange today in solidarity with the detainees.
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