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Close Guantánamo

By Dr. Ludwig Watzal

26 January, 2015

13 years of torture and lawlessness at Guantánamo should be enough for the self-proclaimed flagship democracy. This military camp has made a mockery of the US jurisdiction, which has lost its credibility. For the rest of the world, American democracy is no longer a role model because of its lousy judiciary and its criminal and despicable foreign policy. Wasn’t the US founded, inter alia, on the basis of the rule of law? All American children cut their teeth on apple pie and the rule of law. As long as Guantanamo stays open, it’s an insult to anybody who respects the rule of law, justice and fairness.

In the name of democracy, freedom, free trade and for the benefits of the 1 percent superrich, Millions of non-white people have been killed. Not to speak of the 4, 500 US soldiers in Iraq and 2,360 US soldiers in Afghanistan who lost their lives for the crackpot idea of fighting terror. Tenth of thousands of maimed servicemen and servicewomen and several thousands of suicides in the military seems to be swept under the table.

In Washington D. C., the founders of “Close Guantánamo”, the well-known human rights lawyer Tom Wilmer and the journalist Andy Worthington, discussed together with Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantánamo, America’s open sore. (1) In 2009, President Obama promised to close the military prison within one year. All his efforts, however, were blocked by the US Congress. Public protest forced the Obama administration to deal again with the Guantánamo detainees.

Originally there were 799 prisoners in Guantanamo. Up to 127 all were dismissed without being indicted. Some of the prisoners died or committed suicide. Of the 127, 57 are due for release. 52 of them are Yemenis, but they have not been send to Yemen because of civil unrest in the country. Members of Congress oppose a release on the grounds that the released would re-engage in terrorist attacks. One can ask where the evidence is that they engaged in terrorist attacks in the first place? To date, no former prisoner has done anything wrong. Due to scant evidence, even the kangaroo courts convicted only 6 prisoners in 13 years. 4 out of 6 were convicted for an offence that was later determined not an offence.

There is one British citizen incarcerated at Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer. Although the Brits are America’s closes ally and took part in the raid against Iraq, neither Tony Blair nor David Cameron have been able to secure his release, though Aamer has long been cleared for release.

The prison camp at Guantánamo is not only a stain for America but also an international story, because the inmates have been living in a lawless space. International law has been twisted and bent beyond recognition by the legal counselors of the Bush administration. They created a legal vacuum in which everything was permitted, torture included.

Guantánamo remains America’s open sore as long as those responsible for torture and the abuse of law are not brought to justice. The remaining inmates should be transferred to a detention facility within the US and brought to trial. If the evidence for an indictment is insufficient, they are to be released immediately. It goes without saying that the detainees must be compensated.

Why not sending Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their cronies instead to Guantanamo?

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “between the lines” http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.de/

(1) http://www.closeguantanamo.org/

Guantanamo detainee publishes memoirs from inside prison

Guantanamo Diary

Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 01 Rabi ul Aakhir 1436/23 January 2015

The story is emblematic of the many misfortunes that characterize Guantanamo Bay: A detainee whose book gets released before he does.

Mauritanian detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi has become the first prisoner at the notorious US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to release a book of his experiences there whilst still in detention.

“It is spine-chilling at times, sad at times, funny at times, emotional at times..it is a book everyone needs to read,” Slahi’s lawyer Nancy Hollander told Cii Radio of Guantanamo Diary. “You can literally almost taste and smell the torture because his descriptions are so detailed and accurate”.

Slahi was admitted to Guantanamo Bay in August 2002, following his US-engineered enforced disappearance from Mauritania a year prior. En route to Cuba, Slahi found himself dumped at torture dens in Jordan and black sites in Afghanistan. The Mauritanian was among the few prisoners who had the unfortunate distinction of being singled out by then US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a “special programme of interrogation” (a euphemism for torture) which resulted in a shadowy incarceration on a boat, fears of him being thrown overboard, the breaking of his ribs, being forced into stress positions and being denied sleep for almost 2 months.

“He was even sent a false letter informing him that his mother was going to be sent to Guantanamo Bay to be tortured,” his lawyer said. “He had a long recipe of torture and he is still in Guantanamo Bay”.

Throughout his ensuing 12 year ordeal, Slahi was never formally charged for any crime and even had a US District court grant him an order for an immediate release.

Hollander said the revelations made in the book were not entirely new, as similar accusations are documented in the recently published US Senate torture report as well as two other previous reports, that specifically noted Slahi’s case.

“What is news about this book is that these accusations come directly from him. You see in the book that he is a forgiving and compassionate man. He just wants to be released. He would sit down at the end and have a cup of tea with everyone”.

According to Hollander, Slahi began writing the book after the phase of his physical torture elapsed in 2005. Provided with writing material by his captors, he began describing the extent of his ordeal on paper for the benefit of his legal representatives. Spurred on by his lawyers, Slahi’s writings slowly morphed into a fully fledged book.

“(The problem in publishing the book) was that everything he said was presumed to be classified secrets. So all of it was sent to a special facility where lawyers were permitted to read it(there alone). And then we had to fight with the government for 6 years to get it released in the form that you see it”.

The Guardian reports that Slahi’s manuscript was subjected to more than 2500 redactions before declassification, ostensibly to protect classified information, but with the effect of preventing readers from learning the full story of his ordeal. The book is being published with all the censor’s marks in place, and the publishers – Canongate in the UK and Little, Brown in the US – hope they will be able to publish an uncensored edition when Slahi is eventually released.

Although the redactions hamper the flow of the narrative, Hollander told Cii she believes that, even in its current form, the book captures the essence of Slahi’s ordeal.

Guantanamo Diary was published internationally this week, in Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s fourth language of English, and is available via various online retailers.

His handwritten manuscript can also be accessed in full on the Guardian website.

Slahi has been kept updated on developments surrounding the publishing of his book by his legal team during routine visits.

“Perhaps the most tragic part of the story is that Slahi is still locked in a prison cell,” Hollander lamented. “This book was written 10 years ago, in 2005. And today, he is still there”.

Guantanamo turns 13, in silence

Guantanamo 13

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 27 19 January 2014

A story that predictably went unnoticed, not least in the mainstream media,was that Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp – a United States of America military prison – turned 13 last week. Former inmates, released without being charged, speak of a mix of violations of human rights. The almost 200 still languishing there are denied justice. Torture is common. The camp exemplifies savagery. Some detainees have been held for more than a decade for no known reason. The modern-day USA harps on France’s centuries old détention sans process(detention without trial) era.

Pleas by Barack Obama, president of the USA, and his predecessor, George Bush, whose administration established the concentration camp, to free the inmates have turned out to be a lie. Bush used the same policy, lies, to justify the invasion of the Middle East and assault of North Africa. The region remains in the throes of Washington’s terror.

“It’s been eight years since Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. It’s also been six years, now, since they promised to release Shaker Aamer. So, Shaker Aamer has been cleared for release all of these years and he’s still there – still, day by day, being force-fed and he’s still being tortured day in and day out in that horrible camp,” CAGE spokesman Kaleem Bullivant told Cii, adding – notwithstanding Obama’s promises, which have now been exposed as a lie by the passage of time – that another 180 people are illegally held to this day.

A vast majority of the inmates (who frequently endure torture) were, like Aamer, cleared for release from this camp, explained Bullivant. His group, CAGE, lobbies for the closure of the extrajudicial camp and release of the detainees.

Aamer was thrown in Guantanamo, by the USA, then under Bush, who misled his nation and the world to assault oil-rich Iraq and trigger years-long mass murder. That was just after his administration established the facility, with all the elements of a concentration camp, to detain and interrogate what the USA perceived as extremely dangerous people of non-European descent for war crimes. Those incarcerated illegally hailed from Africa, Asia and, notably, the Middle East – which Bush assaulted, in defiance of the-then Kofi Anan-led United Nations, illegally.

Washington accused Aamer, held sans process for 13 years, of being on the side of Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda. Sources say British PM David Cameron will plead for the release of Aamer, the last Brit in Guantanamo, during talks with Obama. What’s new? He cleared Aamer for release in 2009. Before Obama, Bush did the same two years earlier. Aamer is a citizen of Saudi Arabia but is resident of the UK – where his wife and mother of his children (the youngest of whom he has never seen), is a citizen.

“In Guantanamo itself they have something like about 20, what they call HVDs or high -valued detainees, which are people they think they want to keep. Even that is illegal because they want to keep these people indefinitely without bringing any charges against them. The other 150 or so, they are theoretically cleared for release. They have been told that they pose no threat, that they are no danger (but) they’re still being held,” the UK-based Bullivant said.

Complicating matters is that some of the authorities in the detainees’ home countries would likely torture them, he added. This raises questions of destination post-detention torture camp – where they should be released to. In theory, this shouldn’t apply to Aamer because Britain, home to his wife and children, claims it wants him back. On the other hand, Washington, as Obama and Bush claimed previously, wanted to free him – perhaps only in theory. “America said they want to release him but yet we don’t see him,” noted the man from CAGE.

In an interview with Cii, Bullivant argued that some of Aamer’s biggest crimes, which have kept him languishing for the past 13 years illegally, relate to what the tortures and two murders he witnessed in the concentration camp. “That is the reason the Americans are keeping him,” he said, before tackling Washington’s terror, with the help of the United Kingdom, then under Tony Blair, exposed by the highly redacted and abbreviated torture report into the atrocities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“One of the things that was very sad to hear was, in a lot of the cases, was the anal rehydration that we heard about. Let’s call it what it is – it’s rape! (The CIA and other USA authorities) forced food up the rectum of prisoners. This was going on, and has been going on in Guantanamo, right up until recently. We’ve heard from one of the lawyers, Clive Stafford-Smith, that the prisoners there complained that this has happened to them upward of 300 times,” Bullivant said, noting this form of savagery and brute as one of CIA’s “standard procedure” in the brutality camp.

“Sadly, the conditions are still draconian,” he told Cii. “The regime itself is incredibly harsh and hard for the people there to bear.”


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