Friday, February 17, 2006

Close Guantanamo

Following the UN report on the Guantanamo prison camp, which described aspects of what goes on there as torture, an increasing number of voices are asking for the camp to be closed. Kofi Anna has called for the camp to be closed as soon as possible, and for the 500 inmates to be tried or freed without further delay. Cabinet minister Peter Hain has said the same thing. Even Blair has described the camp as an 'anomaly' which must be dealt with sooner or later.

Archbiship Desmond Tutu, who is always an inspiration to hear, was on the Today programme this morning. He was vociferous in his condemnation of the detention without trial which occurs at Guantanamo and which was proposed in the 90 day legislation here in the UK. (listen here).
Here are some of his comments on Guantanamo :

"A horrendous blot on the image of what was supposed to be the only superpower and a democracy to boot"

"I never imagined I would live to see the day when the United States and its satellites would use precisely the same arguments that the apartheid government used for detention without trial. It is disgraceful and one can't find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted. I can't believe it."

"I am appalled, I am deeply appalled and what is even more sad is, especially in the United States, is that there has been so little outcry.",

A recent report by John Simpson suggested that even on the US Department of Defense's own admission only 8% of detainees held at Guantanamo were actual Al-Qaeda fighters, and only 5% were actually captured by the Americans themselves. Most were handed over by what could be called 'bounty hunters' after a big campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan where notices such as the following were handed out :

"Get wealth and power beyond your dreams... You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taleban forces catch al-Qaeda and Taleban murderers.

"This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life."


If these people are accused of being part of terrorist groups then try them (allowing them access to lawyers). As Desmond Tutu said "If you've got the evidence, produce the evidence.". If they are prisoners in the 'war on terror' then let them be treated as prisoners of war in accordance with Geneva convention. This neither here nor there, unlawful, immoral situation cannot go on. Guantanamo Bay must be closed.

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