11 February 2006

Boston Globe: Close Guantanamo now

The torture continues at Guantanamo Bay -- in our name, and with our tax dollars.

A Friday editorial in The Boston Globe makes a good case for closing Gitmo -- something that Amnesty International has been calling for for a long time.

An excerpt:
The new chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, was expected to sweeten relations with the United States that had been strained by her predecessor's outspoken opposition to the Iraq war. But in her first meeting with President Bush last month she gave him this unsolicited advice: Close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Just how wise her council was becomes clearer with every revelation about the purgatory the United States has created for hundreds of individuals swept up during the Afghanistan war more than four years ago. So far, the government has managed to bring criminal charges against just a handful of the detainees. The rest are held thousands of miles from their homes and families with no prospect of any resolution of their cases.

Not surprisingly, many are driven to go on hunger strikes. Concerned that starvation deaths would further discredit US policy toward the detainees, US officers take extreme steps to keep the strikers alive with force-feeding. According to US officials interviewed by The New York Times, plastic tubes are forced down prisoners' throats and they are strapped into special "restraint chairs" for hours on end. These keep them from intentionally vomiting after a force-feeding. A detainee lawyer told the Times that one of his clients said officials would purposely insert so much food that prisoners would defecate on themselves.


The most heart-rending cases are the dozen or so Chinese Muslim Uighurs at Guantanamo. Captured at a time when the United States was offering Afghans $5,000 bounties for detainees, the Uighurs have even been declared by the US government not to be enemy combatants. But the government does not want to send them back to China, where Uighurs are persecuted, and won't give them asylum status that would allow them to join a small Uighur community near Washington, D.C. So they stay in their cells.
[Read more.]

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