Protest against ten years of Guantanamo

By Paddy McGuffin in England:

Trafalgar Sq protest marks Guantanamo decade

Sunday 08 January 2012

Orange-clad protesters filled London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the notorious Guantanamo Bay gulag.

Supporters of imprisoned British resident Shaker Aamer and former British resident Ahmed Belbacha were among those demanding its closure two years after US President Barack Obama’s declared deadline for doing so.

One hundred and seventy remain locked up without charge or trial at the camp in an occupied corner of Cuba.

Activists at Saturday’s event organised by the London Guantanamo Campaign, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Stop the War performed a mock role call using the names and numbers of some of those still imprisoned.

Among those who addressed the event in Trafalgar Square was human rights lawyer Louise Christian, who represented a number of Guantanamo detainees.

She said: “It is not good enough that the US and British governments don’t care” about the remaining detainees, branding it “a disgrace and horror that 10 years on they are still there.”

London Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford demanded the full truth on the collusion of EU states including Britain in rendition, torture and illegal detention during the “war on terror.”

And CND general secretary Kate Hudson said that as well as killing up to a million people in illegal conflicts the so-called war on terror – which began following attacks on the US in 2001 – had also seen a massive assault on our civil liberties.

“I can think of no greater attack on civil liberties than Guantanamo,” she said, declaring: “An attack on their liberties is an attack on all our liberties.”

Stop the War convener Lindsey German condemned Mr Obama’s failure to close the “illegal torture camp” at Guantanamo.

“The US has been forced to pull out of Iraq due to the continued resistance and will have to pull out of Afghanistan but Obama is now talking about future wars.

“It is not only time to close Guantanamo but end all these wars.”

Ten Years of Guantanamo: What Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld Knew. Jason Leopold, Truthout: To mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay prison to house “war on terror” detainees captured after 9/11, Truthout will republish a handful of exclusive reports by Jason Leopold about the facility: here.

Guantanamo Bay survivors will tomorrow mark a decade of human rights abuses at the illegal prison camp: here.

Jason Leopold, Truthout: “There are still 171 detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo. More than half have already been cleared for release. Thirty-six are expected to face war crimes charges and the remainder were deemed by the Obama administration as being too dangerous to release or too difficult to prosecute because the evidence against them is tainted due to the fact that they were tortured”: here.

Chrystal Loyer, Truthout: “One pair [of] gray flip-flops, SPF 55 sunblock, white linen shirt, cabana-style straw hat … Judging from my suitcase, I am destined for some tropical paradise. But I am not headed just anywhere and the contents of my suitcase don’t stop at the above…. Three legal pads, one mini recorder, five copies official military invite to travel letter, one unclassified case docket for Majid Shoukat Khan…. Five days ago, I received notice that I was invited to observe the next military commission to be held on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”: here.

Dick “The Torturer” Cheney Is Afraid of Protesters in Canada: here.

The Torture Memo Bush Tried to Destroy: here.

5 thoughts on “Protest against ten years of Guantanamo

  1. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street back in Zucotti, supports Nigeria | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. French judge seeks Guantanamo access over ‘torture’

    By Etienne Fontaine | AFP News – 1 hour 21 minutes ago

    A French judge has requested access to Guantanamo to probe claims by three Frenchmen that they were tortured at the notorious jail which US President Barack Obama once promised to close.

    Judge Sophie Clement wants permission from the US authorities to inspect and copy all documents relating to the three men and to interview all persons who had contact with them there, according to legal documents seen by AFP.

    The judge requested access to “all documents relating to the justification and modalities of (US) armed operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to the treatment of persons arrested during these operations,” the documents said.

    The three Frenchmen who made the accusations — Mourad Benchellali, Nizar Sassi and Khaled Ben Mustapha — were arrested in late 2001 on the Afghan-Pakistani border and sent to Guantanamo.

    They were allowed to return to France in 2004 and 2005 and were detained for periods of between 11 and 17 months.

    They were sentenced by a French court to one year in prison on terrorism charges in 2011 but have said they will appeal that decision.

    A lawyer representing two of the men, William Bourdon, said judge Clement’s request to US authorities was “without precedent and should enable us to identify those responsible for this arbitrary detention and torture.”

    Benchellali said that soon after his arrest he was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan where he says he was beaten and forced to strip, and then made to lie on top of other naked men while US soldiers took photos.

    Ben Mustapha said he was subjected to sexual abuse in Kandahar, which judge Clement said in the legal documents might lead to rape charges.

    All three former inmates told of gruelling interrogations during which they were beaten. They also said that they were put in cells and subjected to blasting music from several sources to deprive them of sleep.

    Ben Mustapha said interrogators would provoke inmates by trampling on the Koran or throwing the Muslim holy book into buckets of prisoners’ excrement.

    The US base at Guantanamo, Cuba, accepted its first prisoners from the battlefields of the US-led “war on terror” on January 11, 2002, four months after Al-Qaeda flew hijacked jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Obama declared within a few hours of taking office in January 2009 that he would shutter the camp within a year, saying it was used as a recruiting tool for terrorists, and detrimental to US national security.

    But in the face of deep opposition in Congress to moving inmates to the US mainland or holding civil trials for key Al-Qaeda suspects, Obama has failed to live up to his vow.

    A decade on, 171 prisoners remain there, most in legal limbo, some awaiting transfer abroad, and at least 40 may never face justice but are deemed too dangerous to ever be freed.

    A dozen European countries from Ireland to Albania have accepted more than 50 former inmates who are either citizens, former residents or, in many cases, cannot be returned to their home countries for fear of ill-treatment.


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  4. A world without Guantanamo

    January 25, 2012

    By Karen J. Greenberg
    Special to The Washington Post

    Ten years after its opening, mention Guantanamo, and a thousand images emerge. Men in orange jumpsuits wearing goggles, hoods and handcuffs, hunched over in the relentless Caribbean sun; zoo-like cages, exposed to the elements, with nothing but buckets as toilets; secret areas of the prison compound where “enhanced interrogation techniques” were tested; a detainee deprived of sleep, and injected forcibly with fluids to cause swelling, until he broke; men found hanging from ropes in their cells.

    What would a world without Guantanamo be like? That’s two questions, really. First, one must imagine a world in which the detention facility had never opened its doors. And, less fanciful, a world in which it closed down now. To begin, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of what Guantanamo has been and what it means today.

    From the start, the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was painted for the public as containing unimaginably bad inmates. White House and military officials insisted that the prisoners there were “the worst of the worst”; former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers described the detainees as almost superhuman, able to “gnaw hydraulic lines” on the airplane bringing them to the facility.

    President George W. Bush insisted that there was no rendition-to-torture program, until the day he moved 14 prisoners from the program to the camp, announcing the national security value of interrogating them. Judges, national security officials, prosecutors and other officers of the law insisted that the U.S. court system was too weak to handle such terrible men.

    President Obama’s administration has concurred, pushing the closure of Guantanamo further away and buttressing its prognosis for a long life with the banal assertion that roughly 48 detainees will be kept there in “indefinite detention.”

    Symbolically, Guantanamo has always had a power far beyond its harboring of captives in the war on terror. For civil libertarians, it represents the rights that the U.S. government violated in the name of that war, most glaringly the tolerance of open-ended detention. For its defenders, Guantanamo marks a U.S. willingness to take the gloves off. Internationally, it is a symbol of the humbling of America. Guantanamo is an invitation for others to say: “See? The United States is just like the rest of us, unable to resist going to the dark side when attacked.”

    Guantanamo represents what lies below the surface of America the civilized; it is a window into the lure of the brutal in times of confusion, and a reminder of the forgotten discipline that constitutional democracy requires.

    But mostly, Guantanamo is this: It is the place where the United States has decided to collect the universe of post-9/11 moral issues that confound its politicians, laws and people. When in doubt or ignorance, or when just plain challenged by the complexities of national security dilemmas, send the problems to Guantanamo.

    Don’t know what to do with prisoners captured on the terrorism battlefield? Send them to Guantanamo. Doubtful of the ability of the U.S. courts to try terrorists? Put them in Guantanamo. Anxious about the haunting realities of torture coming to light? Keep those who were tortured at Guantanamo.

    So what if we erased all that?

    Without Guantanamo, there would be no focal point that so readily called to mind the U.S. role in the war on terror. There would be no one place that encapsulated the errant journey that the nation began in the wake of 9/11, the startling deviation from law and process, from the self-identity of America as law-abiding, confident and fair. The absence of Guantanamo, the one term that evokes so much, would have meant that the United States had not chosen the easy out.

    Had there been no Guantanamo, the nation would have had to confront issues that still haunt us: the ability of the Constitution to deal with 21st-century enemies, the strengths and weaknesses of our intelligence services, the uncertainty of who is an enemy and who is not. U.S. leaders would have had to create aboveboard policies that would not have led us into a state of perpetual limbo, now codified by Congress and supported by the president in the form of indefinite detention and military detention for foreign terrorism suspects.

    With no Guantanamo, there would still be much to trouble us: the war in Iraq and the lies that got us there, the losses in Afghanistan, the overstepping of the security state into conversations, virtual and otherwise. But there wouldn’t be a glaring badge of shame, nor would there be a ready symbol of the country’s willingness to allow national security to trump the rule of law. Without Guantanamo, our moral compass wouldn’t have been so visibly hijacked.

    Obama has continued to use Guantanamo as a collection box for the most challenging national security dilemmas. If anything, he has intensified the prison’s role as a catch-all for the confusion of post-9/11 security, as if for each cell emptied of a human being, another is filled with a problem: the use of waterboarding and hearsay, the desire to arrest individuals for association with a terrorist group, the need to have a secondary system of justice, the political attraction of promising Congress that the enemies of the United States will not be allowed onto U.S. soil.

    But if we now close Guantanamo, the Pandora’s box of so much that went wrong after 9/11, it would end the entire era, and with it the anger, frustration, and loss of faith in government and the courts that has lasted a decade. The ignorance that persists about who is there and what actual danger they pose would disappear. Gone would be some of the disappointment with lawmakers who use Guantanamo as a reminder that the nation is beset by threats and thus keep fear alive. Gone would be the emasculation of the U.S. courts as a viable venue for trying terrorism cases.

    Could shutting down Guantanamo resolve the legal and moral confusion unleashed by the global war on terror, or would its closure merely be another failed remedy? The answer lies in how it is done. Guantanamo can’t be closed quietly. Rather than just withering away, blanketed in excuses of political constraint and legal complexities, it needs to be shuttered with a clear declaration of rights and wrongs.

    Indefinite detention is wrong. Bypassing the courts is wrong. Succumbing to fear until it dominates the law is wrong.

    Ultimately, because Guantanamo is a repository of not just prisoners but America’s confusion, its closure should mark a moment of clarity and renewed confidence in our country and the rule of law. Close Guantanamo and you close the box of sin that the war on terror unleashed, making us, rather than an exceptional nation, one like all the others. Close the box, bury the ills of the past decade, close the doors on a state of limbo and confusion, and America’s true exceptionalism can once again thrive.

    Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University, is the author of “The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days.”


  5. Pingback: Guantanamo torture camp still open | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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