GITMO TORTURE CAMPS: THE DEADLY JOKES OF US JUSTICE SYSTEM AND HUMAN RIGHTS


GUANTANAMO TORTURE CAMPS:  THE DEADLY JOKES OF THE US JUSTICE SYSTEM AND HUMAN RIGHTS

 

by Syarif Hidayat

       The US President, Barack Obama has been violating and continues to violate torture convention and thus also violate human rights by continuing the operation of Guantanamo torture camps.  The holy month of Ramadan began on July 8. At Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Delta, Muslim detainees on hunger strike, many of which have been cleared for release, continue to be force-fed against their will. Islamic community leaders in the UK and the US urge Obama to stop force-feeding Gitmo detainees during Ramadan. It seems that Obama is joking with  American justice system and human rights of many innocent people in Guantanamo torture camps (deadly jokes)!

        Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states, “Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”


The Torture Convention’s applicability to the force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners was recently confirmed by Judge Gladys Kessler. Kessler was presented with an emergency suit aimed at stopping the force-feeding. According to Kessler, “It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”

 

John Kerry and Barack Obama’s Ideals about American values:

       “Anywhere that human rights are under threat, the United States will proudly stand up, unabashedly, and continue to promote greater freedom, greater openness, and greater opportunity for all people. And that means speaking up when those rights are imperiled. It means providing support and training to those who are risking their lives every day so that their children can enjoy more freedom. It means engaging governments at the highest levels and pushing them to live up to their obligations to do right by their people.”Secretary of State John Kerry, April 2013.


      “Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire; what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation; what led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause. Hope is what led me here today–with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have courage to remake the world as it should be.” – BARACK OBAMA, speech, Jan. 3, 2008.


The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach — condemnation without discussion — can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.” – BARACK OBAMA, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2009.

        “There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. Indeed, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law – a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.” -BARACK OBAMA, speech, May 21, 2009.

        “To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger.” – BARACK OBAMA, Address to Joint Session of Congress, Feb. 24, 2009.

       Now it has been more than four years after Obama statement, but the Guantanamo Prison and Torture Camp is still fully operational. This Chicago lawyer seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth and it seems to be a deadly joke of American justice system!

 

The reality:

        I also always follow Obama’s statements concerning War on Terror. Frankly speaking, now I have come into my firm conclusion that the Obama regime is not much different from the previous Washington regimes. The only evidently difference is that the Master in the White House right now is an Afro-American man, while previously, they were always Whites. The Obama regime is also following the previous Washington regimes policies to always faithfully obey the Zionist Jews lobby instructions whether they make sense or not.

       It seems that Barack Obama has now already forgotten his roots that makes his situation is worse than merely a Zionist puppet. Had he not forgotten his roots, this Afro-American president would still have some empathy toward the victims of Zionist and Imperialist oppression like Libyans,  Yemenis, Palestinians, Africans, Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis as well as Syrians.
       I am very sorry for the Africans who mostly experienced being oppressed and many of them also being tortured inhumanely by Western imperialists and colonialists and now it seems their sufferings are also simply being forgotten by their westernized new generation of black leaders. Some of the new African generation who have become leaders especially in the west – they even themselves become oppressors!

       I also followed Obama’s lectures in Indonesia, Egypt and Turkey etc.
I also recorded some of his statements that seem to open a new page in the US relations with the Muslim world. On the other hand, I also always note his pledges of dependable financial, political and military support for Israel.

‘Guantanamo prison gives US license to violate laws’

This file photo shows a detainee with guards at the US’s prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.        The Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba sends a message to the world that the US has hegemony and can violate any laws and get away with it, a political commentator tells Press TV. “It [Guantanamo prison] serves two purposes: one sending a sort of public relations message to the world that the United States can do whatever it wants to do as it’s the global hegemony since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. And [another] part of [that message is to show the world that] it is just a ‘show’ prison regardless of human rights abuses, [and] human rights violations…,” said Professor Mark Mason.

        He added that the US continues to maintain the notorious prison camp despite the fact that the US President Barack Obama promised to close the prison. The comments came after the US military guards clashed with hunger striking prisoners on the weekend, as military forces were attempting to move the inmates out of a communal section of the prison and into solitary confinement. Guantanamo hunger strikers stopped eating to protest their indefinite imprisonment without charges. They are also demanding an end to the intrusive search of their cells and personal belongings. In the summer of 2005, a previous mass hunger strike involved many of the prisoners but the protest dwindled after the military began tying people down and force-feeding them liquid nutrients through tubes to prevent them from starving to death.

“We know that the US has been lying about Guantanamo. The very existence of Guantanamo prison effectively is a lie. The prison exists only within the pretense that it has legitimacy. It has no legitimacy under international law, no legitimacy under US Constitutional law,” Mason concluded.

 

Obama violates torture convention

A detainee is carried by military police after being interrogated by officials at Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay prison, Cuba. (File photo)         The holy month of Ramadan began on July 8. At Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Delta, Muslim detainees on hunger strike, many of which have been cleared for release, continue to be force-fed against their will. Some of the hunger strikers have been wrongfully and illegally detained for more than 11 years. Meanwhile, we continue to delude ourselves into believing that all detainees at Guantanamo Bay must be guilty of something and, therefore, not worthy of our compassion and empathy.

       Those who wish to exploit the United States’ hypocrisy of criticizing human rights violations and demanding accountability abroad can add the force-feeding of hunger strikers to their dossier, which already includes the sanctions on Iraq that led to the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, our continued support for authoritarian regimes, and drone attacks that kill far more innocent people than we are willing to admit. According to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the continued indefinite detention of individuals and the “lack of legal protection and the resulting anguish caused by the uncertainty regarding their future has led them to take the extreme step of a hunger strike to demand a real change to their situation.”

         Currently, there are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Of that 166, 86 have been cleared for release. Despite aggressive efforts by the Obama administration to break the hunger strike, it still counts 70 detainees on hunger strike, with 46 of those designated for force-feeding. Instead of the real change they are demanding, the hunger-striking detainees are being force-fed, an unequivocal violation of international human rights law.

Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states, “Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

The Torture Convention’s applicability to the force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners was recently confirmed by Judge Gladys Kessler. Kessler was presented with an emergency suit aimed at stopping the force-feeding. According to Kessler, “It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”

At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on closing Guantanamo Bay, retired Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D. explicitly stated that the force-feeding of detainees violated medical ethics, our international legal obligations, and amounted to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Kessler ultimately rejected the suit on jurisdictional grounds, stating that, under the Constitution, President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, “has the authority-and power-to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”

President Obama defended this violation of international law during his recent national security speech. Stopping his speech to respond to a question posed by Medea Benjamin, President Obama stated, “Well, I don’t – I don’t want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can.” Implicit in President Obama’s response is that there are only two options, let them starve themselves to death or force-feed them through the cruelest and most inhumane way. There is one clear solution to this standoff that was somehow overlooked; the immediate release of those prisoners who have been cleared.

President Obama took what might appear to be a step forward when he stated his intention to lift his own self-imposed moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen. Yet, he only committed to reviewing detainee files on a case-by-case basis. There is a reason why 86 of the prisoners have been cleared for release. Their files have already been reviewed, in some cases multiple times. To once again review detainee files while their human rights are being severely violated on multiple levels is unacceptable.  Ahead of Ramadan, four detainees filed a petition aimed at preventing force-feeding. In response, the Obama administration promised that detainees will only be force-fed “before dusk and after sunset in order to accommodate their religious practices, absent any unforeseen emergency or operational issues.”

Such a statement does not reassure for two reasons. First, “unforeseen emergency or operational issues” will be determined by the same officials responsible for the force-feeding policy and its implementation. Second, and more importantly, it completely misses the point. To think that force-feeding detainees during the holy month of Ramadan is acceptable because the force-feeding will occur during the times of day when voluntary feeding is permitted demonstrates callous cultural indifference. The Obama administration also claimed that feedings “have been performed in a humane fashion, with concern for petitioners’ well-being, and never in a manner designed to inflict pain or discomfort, or as punishment or retaliation.” Interestingly, this claim was followed by a description of the chairs used to restrain the detainees while they are being force-fed.

Is there even such a thing as humane force-feeding when it is done against the individual’s will while strapped to a chair? Apparently, the Obama administration’s answer is ‘yes’ when the chairs are “ergonomically designed for the detainees’ comfort and protection, with a padded seat and padded back support.” I know what I’m getting next time I need some new furniture.  Our humanity in the United States allows us to wrongfully and illegally detain individuals, clear them for release because they have done nothing wrong, continue to hold them despite being cleared for release, and force-feed them for protesting their indefinite detention, but, by golly, we draw the line at force-feeding detainees during the daylight hours of Ramadan. Truly, as President Obama stated on the 4th of July, we are a beacon of hope.

 

Guantanamo prison blackens US human rights record

       The Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has blackened the already-dark history of human rights atrocities committed by the US government, a political analyst tells Press TV. “These illegal activities of incarcerating and torturing is just something that is a huge black eye on the human rights for the United States, and it has really gone downhill in the past 20 years,” said former intelligence linguist Scott Rickard. The expert said the notorious prison would continue to keep detainees despite US President Barack Obama’s “promise to close these things.”

       On April 30, Obama promised once again to close the prison, currently housing 166 detainees, most of which have been cleared for release or were never charged. In fact, the United States has been engaged in a perpetual, covert war on terror “for a couple of decades or more… and they claim that they can keep these people [in prison] because the war has not ended,” the Rickard said. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged the Obama administration to mend the situation in Guantanamo, which has compelled at least 130 prisoners to starve themselves.

This is while the United Nations human rights office condemned the force-feeding of the hunger strikers, saying it amounts to torture and violates international law. Referring to the US president’s failed policies, Rickard said “Obama is yet another puppet” to the prison and “the banking folks that really run the show in the United States.”  The US government has a long history of colonialism and imperialism, committing acts of terror including those during the campaigns in “Syria and Libya… the Vietnam War… and the American Indian [genocide],” Rickard concluded.

 

Rights violations at US Guantanamo prison just tip of iceberg

        A political analyst tells Press TV that the appalling conditions of the detainees at the US’s prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are only the tip of an iceberg, given Washington’s flagrant violation of human rights across the world. “It [Guantanamo] is the tip of the iceberg because America runs so many other prisons around the world in various countries,” Stephen Lendman, a renowned author and Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization, said in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Saturday. He added that Guantanamo is “America’s ugly public face.”  Lendman also criticized US President Barack Obama for failing to deliver on his pledge to close the prison.

        The analyst noted that over half of the Guantanamo detainees have been cleared for release but the United States is not releasing them for reasons that “simply do not hold water.” “These men have literally given up hope. They are willing to starve themselves to death. It’s a better fate than staying in Guantanamo forever,” Lendman commented. He described the force-feeding of the inmates as a horrible procedure that amounts to torture.  The official number of the detainees on hunger strike at the United States’ notorious Guantanamo Bay prison has reached 100, according to a US official. Lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, and state that the US military is undercounting the number of hunger strikers. They say that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the hunger protest.

Most of the 166 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been cleared for release or were never charged – a situation that has attracted outcry from certain countries and human rights organizations.
International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer has urged Obama’s administration to mend the situation in Guantanamo and criticized force-feeding as a solution to the hunger strike. “If we see a hunger strike today, we interpret this as a symptom, as an indicator about the lack of perspective that those detainees have, the impression of an American government which does not follow up on promises, promises that have been made on transfers,” Maurer said at a news conference on April 11.  Upon taking office, Obama signed an executive order to stop military commissions in order to close down the Guantanamo prison by 2010. However, this has not happened yet.

 

Bagram: The other Guantanamo 

        The months-long hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has returned the subject of indefinite detention to U.S. headlines this year, but that notorious island prison isn’t the only place where detainees in the war on terror are being held indefinitely by the United States without charge. Around 60 non-Afghan nationals are currently being kept by the U.S. at the prison near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan – all without charge or trial – following the hand-over of around 3,000 Afghan prisoners to the Afghan government in March.

      About two-thirds of the detainees, known as third country nationals, are Pakistani. Some of them have been held for nearly a decade, according to a lawyer who is fighting for his clients’ freedom. Omran Belhadi is an attorney with the Justice Pakistan Project, based in Lahore, which represents 11 detainees currently held by the U.S. “They are being held without charge, trial or access to a lawyer, which constitutes a violation of international human rights law,” says Belhadi. “Quite a few of them have been recommended for release by the U.S. government but remain stuck at Bagram, because the U.S. and Pakistani governments are failing to negotiate the terms of their repatriation.”


Though the detainees at Bagram aren’t mentioned often in the U.S., Chris Rogers, who focuses on conflict-related detention at the Open Society Foundations, says that the prison remains a problem for America’s image in the Middle East. “For Afghans, Pakistanis and many others around the world, Bagram is a symbol of hypocrisy and injustice,” says Rogers. “Ending the war in Afghanistan, and closing the chapter of war-on-terror detention that both Guantanamo and Bagram have come to symbolize, means the U.S. has to resolve detainees’ cases and end their legal limbo.”

        In March, the U.S. military transferred the majority of control of the prison at Bagram, which it calls the Detention Facility in Parwan, to the Afghan government. The transfer was scheduled to happen months earlier, but tensions between the two countries – including U.S. fears that Afghanistan would release prisoners the U.S. wants held – delayed the turnover. The U.S. is scheduled to remove significant numbers of troops from Afghanistan by December 2014, but how many remains undecided.

Pentagon spokesperson Todd Breasseale says in an email that the third country nationals held by the U.S. “at the small part of Parwan that we still use are all [Law of War] detainees” – the same authority that applies to nearly every detainee at Guantanamo. (There are currently 166 detainees held at Guantanamo, 86 of whom have been deemed transferrable because they are not threats to U.S. national security.) That legal rationale allows the U.S. to hold prisoners until the end of hostilities in the war against al Qaeda, which Pentagon officials have suggested could last as much as another 20 years.

It remains unclear what the future holds for the prison at Bagram, though Belhadi, the attorney in Pakistan, is not optimistic. “Our impression is that Bagram will remain open even after U.S. combat operations cease in December 2014,” he says. The way forward for his individual clients and the rest of the detainees is also unclear. There is a significant danger that they could be tortured if they are turned over to the Afghans, and Belhadi says the Afghans don’t want them anyway: “They’re aware of the diplomatic hurdles involved in repatriation and want no part in it.”

Rogers, at Open Society, says the U.S. knows “the clock is ticking” in these cases, and that “as the U.S. withdraws its forces and ends its combat mission in Afghanistan, it will not have the same legal basis to capture and detain individuals.” How does the U.S. military see the impending drawdown in Afghanistan affecting its legal authority to hold detainees? When asked if Bagram will stay open past December 2014, Breasseale, the Pentagon spokesperson, says detainees will continue to be held “through to when final disposition is decided,” but that the U.S. “maintains that it shall not give up the humane – and ultimately reversible – option of removing enemy combatants from the battlefield.”

As of now, Belhadi says six detainees – three of whom are his clients – are scheduled to be repatriated to Pakistan in September of this year, due in part to litigation his firm has brought before the Lahore High Court.
Whether U.S. courts have jurisdiction to order detainees released from Bagram remains partially unsettled, though the outlook for the detainees doesn’t look good. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, which extended habeas corpus rights to detainees held at Guantanamo, lawyers for Bagram detainees sought to have those rights applied to their clients. After an initial win, the case – known as al-Maqaleh v. Gates – was overturned on appeal, heard again unsuccessfully with additional evidence in district court, and is currently on its second round of appeals.

Amin Al-Bakri, a Yemeni held by the U.S. without charge since 2002 and one of three petitioners in the al-Maqaleh case, “was tortured and coercively interrogated in CIA custody at undisclosed ‘black site’ locations,” according to Golnaz Fakhimi, a lawyer with CUNY law school who represents al-Bakri. She adds that her client has been cleared for release three separate times. “The indefinite detention of Amin and other rendered non-Afghans at Bagram contrasts starkly with President Obama’s renewed promise to close Guantanamo,” says Fakhimi. “The contrast reveals that his promise to close Guantanamo is not necessarily a promise to end the practice of indefinite detention that makes Guantanamo so problematic.” Rogers is even more blunt in his characterization. “Right now,” he says, “Bagram is another Guantanamo Bay that you’ve heard less about.”

 

Guantanamo prison will remain black mark for US

       A political analyst says the infamous US-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba will remain “a black mark” for the United States, Press TV reports.  “It’s going really to remain a black mark for the US and there are attempts in Congress to do something about it, but at the moment I don’t see any major changes and I don’t see the administration in moving anywhere in that direction trying to close down Guantanamo,” Bill Jones from Executive Intelligence Review told Press TV on Saturday.  “They certainly have not paid much attention to statements coming from the UN on this issue and there has been a lot of concern obviously internationally and also within the United States about the Guantanamo operations,” he explained.

      UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for the closure of the Guantanamo prison. “I am deeply disappointed that the US government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay …. It severely undermines the United States’ stance…when addressing human rights violations elsewhere,” Pillay said. She went on to say that the ongoing indefinite imprisonment of prisoners in Guantanamo prison is in “clear breach of international law.”  “We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold,” she said.

      The senior UN human rights official made the call as inmates at the US military prison have been on hunger strike for almost two months. The 166 hunger strikers stopped eating to protest their indefinite detention without charges. They are also demanding an end to the intrusive search of their cells and personal belongings. Reports show that only six of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison or one in 28 are facing trial. Although more than one in every two prisoners, has been cleared for release, the United States continues to keep them locked up and has no imminent plans for letting them go.

Some 166 inmates at the US military prison have been on hunger strike for almost two months.  The hunger strikers stopped eating to protest their indefinite detention without charges. They are also demanding an end to the intrusive search of their cells and personal belongings.  Upon taking office, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to stop military commissions in order to close down the Guantanamo prison by 2010. However, this has not happened yet.  (HSH)

 

Sources:

1.International news agencies.

2. http://www.presstv.ir

3. http://www.presstv.com

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