The five-year anniversary of Guantanamo prison was marked with mass protests all over the world. Human rights activists believe that the war against international terrorism may no longer be used as a reason for the USA to hold human beings in jail without trials or investigation. US-led foreign policies have deprived the US administration of carte blanche to conduct the anti-terrorist struggle with no restrictions whatsoever.
First prisoners appeared at Guantanamo base in Cuba on January 11, 2002. A group of captured Afghan Talibs appeared on the base first and was followed with more individuals suspected of terrorist activities. About 750 people from 45 countries of the globe including eight Russian citizens have experienced the hell of the worldwide known prison camp since then. Over 300 prisoners (including eight Russians) have been released from the camp afterwards against the background of international protests and torture-linked scandals. However, more than 400 prisoners are still being held behind the barbed wire of Guantanamo. Their fate remains unknown.
Spokespeople for the US administration believe that charges can be brought down against 60 or 80 prisoners. Some others will be freed, although legal experts and human rights activists are concerned that 200 or 300 people will be kept at the base indefinitely.
Trying to defend themselves against numerous attacks from the general public and mass media, the Pentagon officials stated that the fact of keeping terrorist suspects in Guantanamo was not a criminal action, but an initiative of the US government to stop the prisoners from their possible participation in terrorist warfare against the USA. Such a statement only added more fuel to the fire. The Pentagon described the prisoners as combatants, which means that the USA must observe the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
Furthermore, Washington found itself in a hopeless legal dead end. The captured Talibs are legally considered to be army servicemen of the former government of Afghanistan. However, that government ceased to exist a long time ago. Consequently, it goes about the blatant violation of human rights at Guantanamo base. The USA keeps its prisoners of war, tortures and humiliates them, but brings no charges against them. Human rights activists emphasize that the prisoners must be either judged or released.
Amnesty International and other international organization conducted a joint press conference in Washington. In London, about 300 Amnesty International members and volunteers, many dressed in bright orange suits, protested outside the US Embassy. Some acted as American guards, ordering others to kneel, lie face down on the floor and remain silent for an hour and a half. Similar events took place in Japan, Italy, Israel and other countries of the world. The International Helsinki Federation of Human Rights offered to declare January 11 the day of protest against the existence of Guantanamo prison camp.
Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth especially singled out the United States for criticism, lamenting what he called the 'demise' of U.S. credibility as an effective champion of global human rights. “Frankly, one cannot preach what one does not practice,” he said. “And so, as a result, while the United States can still talk in broad terms about democracy, it can certainly still help curtail severe atrocities as in Darfur, it cannot credibly combat efforts to use torture, the disappearance of suspects or the detention of suspects without trial, since those are all abuses that the United States itself has been committing.”
According to Human Rights Watch, there were 15 incidents when prisoners disappeared from secret jails without trace. US war activist Cindy Sheehan and a group of her followers arrived in Cuba to organize a march of protest near the enclosure of Guantanamo.
The USA has completely exhausted its so-called September 11 credit that was used to justify US-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. George Bush has no carte blanche to wage the global war on terrorism, which led the USA occupy oil and other strategically important regions of the planet. It is too early to speak about the collapse of the US global strategy. However, it has already become obvious that George Bush’s successor will have to deal with foreign politics infected with serious crisis.
Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov