There is something serious happening on Cuba. in America’s own Gulag at Guantanamo. It’s not getting too much attention on the public media, although the internet is keeping tabs. There many of the remaining 160 prisoners trapped, tired and frustrated by years of official indifference to their rights have gone on hunger strike. So now five years following Obama’s profession that he will close this abomination on the face of American Justice, what we see is the threat of men killing themselves to get justice from the American legal system. They have been cast into a modern day oubliette and left to be forgotten by the world. A symbol of America’s paralysed political divisions and the excesses of this “war on terror”.
Which is odd considering America’s stance at other times.
Back in June 1987 Reagan gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where he entreated with Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and to open the prison that he saw Eastern Europe as being. His rhetoric soared implying that all East Germany was a great prison gulag.
And his had not been the first. Back in the early seventies the British, faced with a virtual civil war in Northern Ireland, took the action of interning in prisons like Long Kesh (later the Maze) any Catholics they felt belonged to the IRA. These were remarkably similar to Guantanamo in that they too were held indefinitely without trial.
Time passed and the prisoners in the Maze tried to catch the world’s attention to their plight. They began a ”dirty protest”, not wearing prison clothes and smearing the walls with their excrement. They did not wash. and wore only the blankets they had for bedding. Hence their name of the “Blanket boys”. Finally, lead by Bobby Sands they started a hunger strike. Several died, including Bobby Sands who had been elected to the British parliament. America’s reaction was strident and hectoring.
Edward Kennedy addressed the US Senate in 1981, saying “the death of Bobby Sands is a symptom of a deeper crisis — a crisis that will go on and on and on in Northern Ireland, until the Government of Great Britain, the Government of Ireland, and all who truly seek an end to violence care enough to speak and work for peace”
On May 6, 1981 Kennedy and several other politicians, including Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., and Gov. Hugh L. Carey, wrote a telegram to Margaret Thatcher to convey their dissent to the British policies of force-feeding and denying trial: “We question a posture of inflexibility,” they wrote, “that must lead inevitably to more senseless violence and more needless deaths in Northern Ireland”.
American politicians can therefore be said to see the mote in your eye but ignore the beam in their own.
That America, with over two hundred law schools and a million plus lawyers can not see that not bringing a prisoner to trial in ten years is not just a bad idea, but is fundamentally unjust, showing that theirs is a system broken possibly beyond repair is extraordinary.
One prisoner is dead already. Adnat Lalif was send home to Yemen in a pine box after what was called “an overdose of pills” which only begs the question of how a prisoner on 24 hour surveillance found the opportunity to acquire the pills and take such an overdose.
Obama said within his first week of his first term that he would rid America of this carbuncle. Yet five years on it still disfigures the face of her liberties. Why does he not just live up to the rhetoric and release them or take them to court?
Have you ever been fed by a tube? I have, and it not pleasant. There are, as I recall, three phases to the experience. First the tube is thrust up your nose and down the back of your sinuses into the back of your throat. This makes you gag. Second as it goes down the gullet there is the roughness and abrasion as it goes, as well as more gaging. Finally as it is pushed through the sphincter into the stomach there is an overwhelming urge to be sick. Pulling the tube back up is every bit as bad.
Slips down a treat….
This happens to the prisoners twice a day every day whilst they are strapped to a chair.
Yes, the prisoners may well be dangerous. They may be crazy too, but the prison systems in America are already filled with the crazy and dangerous. To say they cannot deal with these additions is not credible.
And remember these are prisoners who have not been charged, and are denied due process to have their cases heard in court. There is no habeas corpus here. It is a massive failure of publicity, legality and humanity.
Surely it is time for the American people to call on their President and shout “Mr Obama tear down this fence” and let the men there either face justice or be sent home.
Copyright David Macadam 2013