Saturday, May 20, 2006
Bye Bye Bay
I'm sure I'm not alone in being absolutely ecstatic about the news there has been an uprising in the Guantanomo Bay torture camp.
The Times reports that "The camp commander, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, said that the prisoner was only pretending to hang himself to lure the guards into the room. “The detainees had slickened the floor of their block with faeces, urine and soapy water in an attempt to trick the guards,” he said. “They then assaulted the guards with broken light fixtures, fan blades and bits of metal.” here
There have been repeated suicides, hunger strikes and more minor acts of resisitance - but to my knowledge this is the first time there has been a well planned and executed mini-uprising in circumstances where organsiation must be nigh on impossible.
The UN has stated that this camp must be closed down. It's latest report states "The state party should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close the detention facility," and repeated assurances from the US government that everything they are doing falls within US law (is indefinate detention mentioned in the statute books?) is hardly reasuuring, particularly when we consider the state of those prisons on the mainland. It's a standing joke about the brutality and inhumanity of the prison system that you can see in any number of US films and TV shows so accepted and uncontroversial is the barbarism of the US penal system.
Anyway, why do we have to take their word for this? Because they have repeatedly refused to allow independent inspectors to enter and verify what the hell is going on. It's not as if the UN will stop the US disappearing those it wishes to subject to unrestrained questioning - and it can't prevent the indefinate detention of these inmates either, no matter what they find out.
The Independent states that "The report demands the outlawing of other notorious practices including "water boarding" and "short shackling", as well as the use of dogs to terrify detainees. Water boarding is a technique in which a subject is made to think he is drowning. Short shackling involves shackling a detainee to a hook in the floor to limit movement. The US routinely denies the use of torture, but Mr Bush himself has left no doubt that for him the priority is protecting national security, whatever that takes." here
Fact is these men are being given no options, no recourse to judicial process, no hope of ever being treated like a human being again. It's small, even doomed, acts of resistance like this that allow these people to reclaim some self respect - making your own choices in the most desperate of circumstances is what seperates those who still have life left in them to those who are dead before they've died.