Saturday, January 12, 2008

Guantanamo: six years of shame

Today is the sixth anniversary of the opening of the US gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, During those six years, 775 people have been detained without trial; 305 of them are still there. Despite endless promises that the prisoners would be put on trial, and a review process that has ranged from the farcical to the Kafkaesque, only 10 of them have ever been charged, and only one - Australian David Hicks, who plead guilty in order to return to Australia - convicted. The rest have languished there, without charge, without trial, without hope, in what has become one of the greatest symbols of America's decline into despotism. And this despite the fact that less than half of them are even accused of committing hostile acts against the US or its allies.

Guantanamo violates two of the most basic principles of human rights: that everyone, no matter what they are accused of, is entitled to a fair trial, and that no-one, no matter what they have done, should be detained arbitrarily or tortured. These rights go back a long way; they were some of the first human rights principles recognised in the western world. Once upon a time, the US regarded them as worth going to war over. Now it has joined the Chinese, Uzbeks, Saudis, and other leading examples of human rights in pissing all over them. Unlike them, it doesn't even have the decency to be ashamed about it.

Guantanamo is an obscenity and a symbol of the corruption of America. Six years on, there can be only one response: Guantanamo delenda est - Guantanamo must be closed.