Thu, 11 Jan 2007
Five years ago
Guantanamo was opened, not one detainee has since been brought to trial.
- 775 detainees have been held in Guantanamo since 11 January 2002
- 430 detainees of ober 35 nationalities are currently detained at Guantanamo; there are concerns about the mental health of most of them
- 345 have been transferred out of Guantanamo since 2002 to countries including Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen
- 200 detainees have staged hunger strikes to protest against their circumstances and conditions of detention
- 86 per cent of detainees had been arrested by Pakistani forces or Afghanistan- based Northern Alliance forces and turned over to US custody, often for a reward of thousands of dollars
- 40 detainees at least have tried to commit suicide
- 20 detainees arrived on 11 January 2002, the day the detention centre opened; they were hooded and shackled
- 17 detainees were under 18 years old
- 14 detainees were transferred to Guantanamo in September 2006 after they had been held incommunicado in secret CIA custody for up to 4 1/2 years
- 10 detainees were charged for trial by military commissions, which were then ruled unlawful by the US Supreme Court
- 3 detainees have committed suicide
- 0 detainees were brought to trial
(Numbers are approximate. Source: Amnesty International)
Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of the British group Reprieve, which represents three dozen inmates, reminds us that Guantanamo is only the most visible of such detention centres:
‘It is remarkable that Guantanamo still exists five years on, but what is also remarkable is that Guantanamo has distracted attention from other secret prisons the US has. As of August last year we know there are 14,000 prisoners in US custody around the world.’
This is not about statistics, lives are detroyed. The life of many innocent (that is if you accept the old principle that one is innoncent until proven guilty) individuals have been and continue to be ruined. American Lawyer G Brent Mickum representing detained British residents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, writes about the treatment of Guantanamo's prisoners:
‘What the British government knows and the British public needs to know is that Bisher's treatment is designed to achieve a single objective: causing an individual to lose his psychological balance and, ultimately, his mind. Every aspect of Bisher's prison environment is controlled and manipulated to create constant mental instability.’
And if you are still under the impression that those detained are, as Rumsfeld once called them, the ‘worst of the worst’ – this is a myth; that all the Guantanamo detainees are combatants who fought against the United States is more propaganda.
Guantanamo must be closed. Torture, under any name, makes us all less safe. Those responsible for Guantanamo should be brought to trial in an international court of justice.