six years on: guantánamo must be closed

Guantanamo Bay Fact Sheet

6.5 x 8 feet – approximate size of cell in Guantánamo

1805 – number of days that hundreds have been held at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial as of December 10, 2006

430 – Approximate number of people in custody at Guantanamo Bay as of November 17, 2006

14 – number of "high value detainees" held at Guantanamo

13 – age of Mohammed Ismail Agha when taken into US custody in Afghanistan in late 2002 before later being transferred to Guantanamo

10 – number of people in Guantanamo who have been charged with any crime

Attempted Suicides

350 – incidents of self-harm in Guantanamo Bay in 2003

120 – incidents were "hanging gestures" in 2003

110 – incidents of harm/suicide were reported for 2005

34 – number of prisoners whose self-harm incidents were labeled "attempted suicide" by the US since January 2002

23 – number of prisoners that tried to hang or strangle themselves in August 2003

[21– number of the 23 prisoners whose attempts were written off as "attention-getting" gestures

2 – number of the 23 prisoners classified as attempting suicide.]

3 – number of prisoners who died in detention of apparent suicides at Guantanamo Bay

Detained without Adequate Proof

55% – percent of detainees not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States

40% – percent of detainees who have no definitive connection with Al Qaeda

18% – percent of detainees who have no definitive connection with Al Qaeda or Taliban

8% – percent of detainees characterized as Al Qaeda fighters

Bought Detainees

At the time when the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies:

86% – detainees were not detained on the battle field but were instead arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody

66% – detainees were captured by Pakistani authorities

20% – detainees were captured by the Northern Alliance/Afghan authorities

8% – detainees were captured by the US authorities

3% – detainees were captured by other coalition forces

All over the world today, ordinary people, clad in orange, will gather to call attention to the plight of other human beings who had the bad luck to be in the way when the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001. In this story from Amnesty International, there's already photo from today's demo in Australia.

Hundreds of thousands of peace and justice groups all over the world - as well as thousands of elected officials in Canada, the UK, Japan, Israel, Germany and other countries - are calling for an end to this horror. Meanwhile, the US continues to operate outside of international law and democratic process.

From Amnesty International:
This anniversary is not just about Guantánamo. The detentions there are only one part of the unlawful detention policies and practices that the US government has adopted since 11 September 2001 in the name of counter-terrorism and national security. These include secretly transferring detainees between countries ("renditions"), holding them in secret detention sites and subjecting detainees to interrogation techniques and conditions that amount to torture or other ill-treatment.

Please think about what you can do to add your voice to this global shout. The ACLU has lots of ideas, and it's not too late. You can find a demo and join others standing up for human rights.

Human Rights Watch articles about Guantánamo here.

Witness To Torture on what's been done.

Canadians can also use this day to call attention to Canada's own special shame, Omar Khadr. There's a powerful essay about Khadr here at Counterpunch. Canadian Robert Billyard writes:
As a government in abdication, official Ottawa - our peerless politicos and esteemed civil servants - have become acolytes to The Empire as they retreat from governance and anything that resembles moral scruples.

The disgrace is theirs and ours. Theirs for doing nothing and ours for letting them get away with it.


Anonymous said...

Shutting down Guantánamo would only be a helpful beginning. The US should also shut down its secret network of prisons scattered across western and eastern Europe. Called "black sites" in CIA jargon, these are the facilities in which prisoners are routinely subjected to various forms of torture--oops, I mean, "enhanced interrogation techniques."

US government complicity in torture is nothing new, mind you. In the past it has relied on representatives from proxy nations (Israel, for example, but also Indonesia, Chile and so on) to deploy torture as an interrogation technique on it behalf. What's different now is that until a few short years ago, the US government would never admit to such a thing, for fear of what such information might do to its reputation, both at home and abroad. Well, Washington obviously is no longer burdened by such scruples. No more is torture the sort of thing one need be ashamed of. Anything goes in the “Age of Terror.”

James Redekop said...

Didn't you hear Mike Huckabee? Guantanamo is luxurious!

A couple of days ago, a pundit on Fox was dissing John McCain on the grounds that he's "not one of us", because he opposes waterboarding.

It's amazing how quickly pathologies can bloom in politics.

Anonymous said...

And Huckabee has well-established bona fides when it comes to foreign policy. Canadians will remember him as the Governor of Arkansas who was interviewed by Rick Mercer during a segment of "Talking To Americans."

Huckabee, you'll recall, joined with all Canadians in support of the effort to keep the "National Igloo" from melting.

laura k said...

Shutting down Guantánamo would only be a helpful beginning.

That's the point of the actions today. See the quote from Amnesty, above.

The US should also shut down its secret network of prisons scattered across western and eastern Europe. Called "black sites"

A recent post of mine about black sites.

laura k said...

Didn't you hear Mike Huckabee? Guantanamo is luxurious!

Well, sure. Rush Limbaugh said it's a tropical paradise! That's all I need to know.

Anonymous said...

Nice post on the black sites. I really like Amy Goodman. I got a chance to meet her a few years back at an anti-IMF demo in DC.

As an American in Canada who shares your intense dislike for the Democratic Party, let me tell you that the Liberal Party is hardly any better. I was up here just in time to watch the Liberals, the party in government, enact Bill C-36, its anti-terrorism bill. It was a particularly nasty and alarmist piece of legislation, very much the sort of thing one would expect to see from an American government, but not a Canadian one.

Among other things, the bill allowed for preventive detention—i.e. the right to incarcerate people on the mere suspicion they may be about to commit a crime; a new police power to compel testimony from anyone they believe has information pertinent to a terrorism investigation; closed trials; and a right of the prosecution, with a judge’s approval, to deny an accused and his counsel full knowledge of the evidence against him. It also greatly enhanced police surveillance powers.

Like the Democratic Party, the LPC is a brokerage party. It exists for the sole purpose of acquiring and exercising power. It is not organized around any core set of principles or concerns, and as such, can shift to the left or to the right as the prevailing wind blows.

Accordingly, the LPC is every bit as odious, mendacious and on the make as the Democrats. There are only two significant differences between the two. 1. Democrats don't have the constant pressure from the left in the form of the NDP. 2. The decisions made by the Liberals, or for that matter, any Canadian political party holding government, just don't have the potential for havoc or affect the same number of lives as do those made by a Democratic administration. Picking a new leader and repositioning itself (on a dime, I might add) changes very little, and does nothing to efface history.

I write these things, as I've read your posts on the Dems, as well as your calls for Stephane Dion to be Prime Minister. The vote for a Dion government would require strategic voting--which never works quite the way its practitioners hope. Not to mention it drastically undermines the NDP, the only party in Canada that genuinely represents progressive values and, as such, remains the only real option.

laura k said...

As an American in Canada who shares your intense dislike for the Democratic Party, let me tell you that the Liberal Party is hardly any better.

TheIronist, I realize you are new to this blog and you don't know me very well. But please understand I am not a newbie to Canadian culture or politics.

I've lived in Canada for 2.5 years and have been following the issues and politics every moment. I followed them just as intensely during the 2 years we were in the immigration process.

I've made it my business to read, learn and get caught up as much as possible. Many wmtc readers have commented that I know more about Canadian history and politics than many Canadian-born Canadians.

So while I assume you mean well, there's never any need to school me on the basics.

I see the Liberal Party for what they are, and I have no intention of voting Liberal. As I've said repeatedly in this blog, the main reason I can't wait to become a Canadian citizen is so I can vote NDP.

My wish for Dion to become Prime Minister is my hope that the Conservatives will lose the next election. It is also directly connected to my work with the War Resisters Support Campaign, a principal focus of my life right now. An end to the Harper govt is the resisters' best hope of being allowed to stay in Canada.

Everyone in the Support Campaign, virtually without exception, votes NDP. Olivia Chow is practically our patron saint - without her, the campaign would have been even a steeper uphill battle than it has been.

However, we are all lobbying the Liberals and fervently hoping for a Liberal win in the next election. That's just reality.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I do mean well. You seem to take my last post as being patronizing, and I sincerely apologize if comes across so.

As for the War Resisters, I bet we know some of the same folks. I was just on the phone today discussing an unrelated issue with a certain gentlemen from the CLC who is also one of the principle organizers for the WRSC in Ottawa, if not the principle.

Again, many apologies if I came across the wrong way.

laura k said...

Thank you very much, TheIronist.

I hope you'll attend the War Resisters Support Campaign event on January 26. There'll be one in Ottawa, as well as Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver, London, Waterloo and Sudbury.

Anonymous said...

I will definitely attend the event on the 26th, unless I'm able to get away to Toronto on that weekend.


laura k said...

I will definitely attend the event on the 26th, unless I'm able to get away to Toronto on that weekend.

Excellent! If you attend the one in Toronto, I hope you'll say hi. Chances are I'll be at the table in the lobby.

allan said...

Protest pictures from around the world

laura k said...

Thanks for the link, Allan.