Guantanamo guilty of dehumanization

American and Christian values condemn GITMO’s practices.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

Justin Yun, Writer

On Thanksgiving day, a dozen peace activists from the Witness Against Torture group began a fast in solidarity with the 107 men currently detained in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

Wearing orange shirts and staring at empty plates in front of the camp, the activists expressed their concerns about the current hunger strike in the detention center and the unconstitutionality of the prison. After 13 years of operation, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center should be closed permanently along with other secret prisons the U.S. operates all over the world.

TROUBLE KEEPING CLEAN

It seems the United States has had trouble keeping its human rights record clean after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIA has been caught operating secret prisons in Romania, Poland and Thailand and much controversy was caused when serious violations of human rights were exposed in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Still fresh from last year’s Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture in Guantanamo, the detention center in Cuba still remains the most controversial topic in current discussions about its constitutionality and the legality of torture.

SIDESTEPPING PROTECTION

Torture is not only illegal according to international law, but also morally wrong. Many of the men currently detained at Guantanamo have committed some of the most heinous acts of crime against humanity. However, this does not justify our actions to echo the inhumanity of some men in our mission to maintain national security.

“Enhanced interrogation techniques” is a common euphemism expressed by politicians and military officials to describe mock executions, waterboarding, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced medication, sensory deprivation, psychological techniques, temperature extremes, solitary confinement and other torture methods used on detainees.

The Bush administration has not only redefined the nature of torture, but has sidestepped the protections promised in Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention by defining al-Qaeda members as “unlawful enemy combatants” instead of being considered prisoners-of-war.

LEGAL LIMBO

The United States has also detained juveniles at Guantanamo. Mohammed Ismail Agha was transferred from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to Guantanamo at the age of 13. One of the most prominent ex-detainees at Guantanamo is Omar Ahmed Khadr, who was sent to the detention center at the age of 16. Khadr is not only a Canadian citizen, but was the first person since World War II prosecuted for war crimes he committed as a minor in a military commission.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi is one of 47 detainees trapped in a “legal limbo.” Slahi, a Mauritanian detainee who captured his experience in a diary published earlier this year, is still detained at Guantanamo despite having not been charged with a single crime.

Even the presumption of innocence, the cornerstone of Anglo-American law, has been compromised in our vitriolic pursuit of making our nation safe.

Once destined to serve as a coaling station for the U.S. Navy, Guantanamo has now turned into a center for torture and dehumanization of detainees. The land acquired through the Spanish-American War in 1898 should be returned to Cuba, its rightful owner.

As citizens, we must become actively involved in the construction and maintenance of our democratic republic. And as Christians we have a duty to protect the life of our fellow image-bearers. Failure to do so would compromise our values, and would relegate us as an illiberal democracy wounded by a myriad of human rights violations and torture.

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