Archive for April, 2013

Prisoners at Guantanmo on Strike: Getting Attention

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

The prisoners at Guantanamo are refusing to eat and many of them are being tortured with violent force feeding in retaliation.  It would not do the US good to have many of them die because of a massive hunger strike.

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Shaker Aamer, above, who is one of the strikers, told his lawyer, as reported by the Guardian:

“I cannot give you numbers and names, but people are dying here.”

Obama made a statement today about the need to close Guantanamo, though what he might have in mind instead does not necessarily mean that the prisoners will be freed; indeed, they could end up in maximum security prisons in the US.

The imprisonment of Muslim men, originally 779 of them, most of whom have been freed and almost all of whom never harmed the US or anyone, would be a crime against humanity even if they were not also tortured, which they have been.

As a citizen of the United States, I must decry this and work to stop it.

Will the People of the US Relinguish all Pretense to their Rights? Have They Already Done So?

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Glenn Greenwald writes:

“Needless to say, Tsarnaev is probably the single most hated figure in America now. As a result, as Bazelon noted, not many people will care what is done to him, just like few people care what happens to the accused terrorists at Guantanamo, or Bagram, or in Yemen and Pakistan. But that’s always how rights are abridged: by targeting the most marginalized group or most hated individual in the first instance, based on the expectation that nobody will object because of how marginalized or hated they are. Once those rights violations are acquiesced to in the first instance, then they become institutionalized forever, and there is no basis for objecting once they are applied to others, as they inevitably will be (in the case of the War on Terror powers: as they already are being applied to others). As Bazelon concludes:

“‘No one is crying over the rights of the young man who is accused of killing innocent people, helping his brother set off bombs that were loaded to maim, and terrorizing Boston Thursday night and Friday. But the next time you read about an abusive interrogation, or a wrongful conviction that resulted from a false confession, think about why we have Miranda in the first place. It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.’

“Leave aside the fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted of nothing [nor have the prisoners at Guantanamo and the black sites] and is thus entitled to a presumption of innocence. The reason to care what happens to him is because how he is treated creates precedent for what the US government is empowered to do, including to US citizens on US soil. When you cheer for the erosion of his rights, you’re cheering for the erosion of your own.”  Emphasis mine  You can read constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald’s full article here.

Can we not see that we must resist this erosion of legal protections for the good of all?  The framers of the US constitution were not fearful people; they wanted liberty and justice.  Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

To what extent are the people of the US already without liberty or safety?

“What is obviously clear by the public reaction, and by the incessant grandstanding by a handful of officials at multiple press briefings, was that the people of Boston had been conditioned to believe that an overwhelming police and military show of force in Boston was necessary in order to ‘make them feel safe’.”  This from Patrick Henningsen, whose full article can be read on Global Research here.  Henningsen goes on to say that martial law operated in Boston:

“The city of Boston was effectively closed down under military-style dictum that included the closure of the city MBTA public transport system, Taxis taken off the road, restricted curfews, bank closures, business closures, police taking over public areas for ‘staging’, door to door searches of homes, and something which was not reported, and unsurprisingly so, the military commandeering of Boston police scanner communications in the early hours of Friday morning. Drivers heading in and out of city arteries could see the signs which read in bright letters, ‘Shelter-in-place in effect in Boston’, which was an order to stay indoors.”

Martial law in Boston cheered by many throughout the country.  What have we come to?  What is allowed to be done to any of us can be done to all of us.  What can we do now to bring about different conditions and a better world?

What Happened to Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The current president of the US, the same one who said of Bradley Manning long before any trial much less any verdict that ” he broke the law”, is quoted by the Guardian as saying tonight,’Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to this violence?’

A feature of the Obama regime is the declaration of who should be murdered because they are determined to be “guilty” by Obama himself, not by the judges and juries that are required by the US Constitution.  Of course, that is, as his predecessor famously said, “just a piece of paper.”  One might, however, have expected a different attitude and behavior from a constitutional lawyer than an ignorant man like Bush.

When we walked into an Upper East Side diner this evening for a late supper, we were greeted at the door by the owner’s glee that the guilty party was in custody.  I suspect most people in the US have embraced this.

Here is a part of the statement of the president of the Republic of Chechnya, which was reported by Le Monde after the murder of the first of the brothers and before the capture of the second:

“Today, as indicated by some media, a certain Tsarnaev was killed in the course of an attempt to apprehend him.  If he had been arrested, and an inquest had followed its course, it would have been possible to clear up the circumstances of his degree of culpability.  Apparently, the special forces needed a result, no matter what, in order to appease society.”

That is a very great condemnation from a country that most people in this one would find backward, not so free as the US.  Alas, it is the US which is backward, in fact it has regressed to the Middle Ages before the Magna Carta, when the dictator/monarch was law.

WAR IS TORTURE

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Normon Solomon wrote this after the bomb explosion at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013:

“Every news report about the children killed and injured at the finish line in Boston, every account of the horrific loss of limbs, makes me think of a little girl named Guljumma. She was seven years old when I met her at an Afghan refugee camp one day in the summer of 2009.

“At the time, I wrote: ‘Guljumma talked about what happened one morning last year when she was sleeping at home in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley. At about 5 a.m., bombs exploded. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.’

“In the refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul, where several hundred families were living in squalid conditions, the U.S. government was providing no help. The last time Guljumma and her father had meaningful contact with the U.S. government was when it bombed them.

“War thrives on abstractions, but Guljumma was no abstraction. She was no more or less of an abstraction than the children whose lives have been forever wrecked by the bombing at the Boston finish line.

“But the same U.S. news media that are conveying the preciousness of children so terribly harmed in Boston are scarcely interested in children like Guljumma.”

I am interested in the children like Guljumma.  I am interested in seeing that not another child, woman, nor man dies from US bombs.  Not the least of the reasons I demand the end to all US wars is because of the children who are maimed, killed, and bereft of their loved ones and those who care for them.

To those who find the kind of bomb deployed at the Boston marathon diabolical, which it is, I also want to recall that the US uses bombs like that on innocent people in several places in the world.

Solomon mentions a report by Paul Watson of the LA Times who quoted Dr.Grbic of Yugoslavia during cluster bombing there : “I have been an orthopedist for 15 years now, working in a crisis region where we often have injuries, but neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as those caused by cluster bombs.” He added: “They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It’s awful, awful.”

These are almost exactly the words we read now from the surgeons in Boston who are treating the people injured there.

The US has dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan and fired cluster munitions in Iraq.

Solomon continues:

“Today, the U.S. State Department remains opposed to outlawing those weapons, declaring on its official website: ‘Cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility. Their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk.’

“The State Department position statement adds: ‘Moreover, cluster munitions can often result in much less collateral damage than unitary weapons, such as a larger bomb or larger artillery shell would cause, if used for the same mission.’ Perhaps the bomber(s) who stuffed nails and ball bearings into pressure cookers for use in Boston had a similarly twisted rationale.

“But don’t expect explorations of such matters from the USA’s daily papers or commercial networks — or from the likes of NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered,’ or the PBS ‘NewsHour.’ When the subject is killing and maiming, such news outlets take as a given the presumptive moral high ground of the U.S. government.”

You can read the full article here.

No War No Torture: No More Corporate Empire

 

US Fires Shots at Guantanamo Prisoners

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

In response to the ongoing hunger strike by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay torture center and the prisoners’ continuing protest, a raid of the prison by US personnel led to what the US called less than lethal rounds being fired at the prisoners.

No one was killed, but few details are available except that all the prisoners are now confined in single cell maximum security units.

This attack on the prisoners occurred just after the representatives of the International Red Cross left the island.

Read more here.

 

Prisoners on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay continue their hunger strike into a third month.

“Criminal defense attorney Marjorie Cohn shares this account by Guantánamo detainee Yousef Al Shehri, detailed in a statement by attorney Julia Tarver:

“Yousef was the second detainee to have an NG [nasal gastric] tube inserted into his nose and pushed all the way down his throat and into his stomach, a procedure which caused him great pain. Yousef was given no anesthesia or sedative for the procedure; instead, two soldiers restrained him – one holding his chin while the other held him back by his hair, and a medical staff member forcefully inserted the tube in his nose and down his throat. Much blood came out of his nose. Yousef said he could not speak for two days after the procedure; he said he felt like a piece of metal was inside of him. He said he could not sleep because of the severe pain.

“When Yousef and others ‘vomited up blood, the soldiers mocked and cursed at them, and taunted them with statements like ‘look what your religion has brought you,’  Tarver wrote.

“She notes that the feeding continued for two weeks and, after pausing for a few days, the guards began to insert larger, thicker tubes— ‘the thickness of a finger.’ According to Tarver, these tubes ‘were viewed by the detainees as objects of torture.'”  Read the full article here.

Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml, another prisoner on hunger strike for at least 43 days there, is said to have attempted suicide.  What has happened to him is not clear, though his death has not been reported by US officials.  Cori Crider, the legal director of Reprieve, according to an account on Huffington Post that you can read here, says she has not heard from him and that fellow prisoners do not know where he is, much less how he is doing.

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More about Adel Hakimi,  a variant on the name of Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml:

According to Andy Worthington, Adel Hakimi, a Tunisian, went to Pakistan to marry and was living in Jalalabad in Afghanistan which is near Pakistan and close to his wife’s family when the US invaded.  The US claims that he was at a military training camp near there, but there is no evidence that he was and he has always denied any involvement with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

When the US invaded, he tried to get to Pakistan and was seized at the border and sold for bounty as so many people, especially Arabs, who were fleeing the US violence were, eventually arriving in Guantanamo.

Before he went to Pakistan, he had worked in Italy as a chef’s assistant at a number of hotels in Bologna and lived among the Italians whom he said treated him “as a brother”.  This European stay involved him a plan that never materialized to send him to Belgium, where he had been tried in abstentia based on US accusations, which have never been substantiated.

Adel Hakimi was, like so many of these prisoners still languishing in Guantanamo today, cleared for release during the Bush regime, which challenged that decision and the Obama regime continues to refuse to release him.  A hunger strike is the only way these prisoners have to resist.   The US, with disregard for international law and US laws against torture, brutally force feeds them.  More from Andy Worthington about this strike.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that violent force feeding of prisoners is torture.  The International Committee of the Red Cross guidelines also state that under no circumstances should doctors participate in force feeding of prisoners because it can be considered torture.

From Lauren McCauley:

“Lawyers representing the hunger striking prisoners say that most of the 166 prisoners being held are participating in the strike which began around February 6. Though the military only acknowledges 42 of those individuals as ‘hunger strikers,’ they reported that, of those, 11 were being force fed, according to detention center spokesman Navy Capt. Robert Durand.”  Read the full account here.

US tax payer money provides the staff, equipment, and all resources of the prison at Guantanamo where these crimes against humanity are committed.  What are we doing to make it clear that we are not complicit in this ongoing torture and indefinite detention of men?  The lawyers I have heard and whose words I have read say again and again that the prisoners are not tried because the US has no case against them. The only just thing to do, then, is release them with reparations and abject apologies to them, their families, and the world.  Fair and just trials of all the US officials who have had any part in this atrocity must also take place in order to hold them accountable.  What are we doing to bring these just actions about?