08 January 2012

Notes From a Guantánamo

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Adopted 10 December 1948 by the United Nations) 

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 30: Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

The New York Times has two articles today (herehere) about the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. The injustice and inhumanity is horrifying. There can be no reasonable justification for these crimes. The doctors who aided torture, the officers who followed illegal orders, the lawyers who argued that the State could act with such impunity, and especially the politicians who gave these orders must be brought to trial. Guantánamo must be closed; the medical men and women, especially, must be named and brought to account for their crimes against humanity. A taste of these men's stories. (Similarities can be found here.)

One tells us about how doctors were involved in his torture:
I was taken to Kandahar, in Afghanistan, where American interrogators asked me the same questions for several weeks: Where is Osama bin Laden? Was I with Al Qaeda? No, I told them, I was not with Al Qaeda. No, I had no idea where bin Laden was. I begged the interrogators to please call Germany and find out who I was. During their interrogations, they dunked my head under water and punched me in the stomach; they don’t call this waterboarding but it amounts to the same thing. I was sure I would drown. At one point, I was chained to the ceiling of a building and hung by my hands for days. A doctor sometimes checked if I was O.K.; then I would be strung up again. The pain was unbearable.
One tells us about his experiences in a world beyond the law:
In 2008, my demand for a fair legal process went all the way to America’s highest court. In a decision that bears my name, the Supreme Court declared that “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” It ruled that prisoners like me, no matter how serious the accusations, have a right to a day in court. The Supreme Court recognized a basic truth: the government makes mistakes. And the court said that because “the consequence of error may be detention of persons for the duration of hostilities that may last a generation or more, this is a risk too significant to ignore.”

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