660 prisoners from 42 countries are confined to US military base Guantanamo.
Labeled unlawful enemy combatants by the Pentagon they have no status. They are neither prisoners of war, nor political prisoners, nor ordinary prisoners. Confined to cages, they are hostages. Outside of the law, the hostages of Guantanamo are practically cut off from all outside communication, whether it be with their parents, their lawyers, or the members of parliament from their countries. This is a first in world history.
How many prisoners at Guantanamo have attempted suicide since the concentration camp opened?
A year ago: “about 30”
3 months ago: “27”
Usually, when something happens over and over again, the total number of times it’s happened increases.
[quote]Life in a Guantanamo cell
The treatment of suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters detained at the US Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba has become the subject of international controversy.
Human Rights Watch described the 1.8m by 2.4m open-sided wire cells in which the men are being held as “a scandal”.
There was also concern that the detainees were seen handcuffed, blindfolded and masked. Later images showed them being manacled and clamped into leg irons on trolleys to be wheeled to interrogation huts.[/quote]
[quote]The government’s position is disingenuous, that the prisoners are not on sovereign U.S. territory, therefore the federal courts are closed to them. But the lease between the Cuban and U.S. governments specifically holds otherwise. In effect since the end of the Spanish-American war in 1903, the pertinent provision for the lease of the 45 square mile area that makes up the U.S. Naval Base says that “the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas with the right to acquire . . . for the public purposes of the United States any land or other property therein by purchase or by exercise of eminent domain.” The lease gives the U.S. civil and criminal jurisdiction over all persons located therein. On its official web site, the U.S. Navy describes Guantanamo as “a Naval reservation, which, for all practical purposes, is American territory. Under the [lease] agreements, the United States has for approximately [one hundred] years exercised the essential elements of sovereignty over this territory, without actually owning it.”
While it should be noted that earlier legal precedent ruled that a base in Bermuda was not “sovereign” U.S. territory, that case did not deal with a prison camp presided over by military guards. To suggest that the U.S. can create a law-free zone where it may imprison whomever it wants whenever it wants for as long as it wants–and never charge or try them–is an astoundingly absurd proposition from any government, let alone one that purports to live by the rule of law.[/quote]
[quote]Red Cross blasts Guantanamo
A top Red Cross official has broken with tradition by publicly attacking conditions at the US military base on Cuba where al-Qaeda suspects are being held.
Christophe Girod - the senior Red Cross official in Washington - said it was unacceptable that the 600 detainees should be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay without legal safeguards.
The Red Cross is the only organisation with access to the detainees.
His criticism came as a group of American former judges, diplomats and military officers called on the US Supreme Court to examine the legality of holding the foreign nationals for almost two years, without trial, charge or access to lawyers.
Mr Girod said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was making the unusually blunt public statement because of a lack of action after previous private contacts with American officials.
“One cannot keep these detainees in this pattern, this situation, indefinitely,” he said during a visit to the US naval base where the Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects are being held.[/quote]
[quote]Attempted suicides at Guantanamo says all about the psychological state of the detainees at this concentration camp maintained by the USA in Cuba for political reasons.
The prisoners were taken in Afghanistan, were transported to Guantanamo base, dressed in orange shell-suits and held in conditions of high security under suspicion, but not charges, of belonging either to Al-Qaeda or to the Taliban regime. The psychological problems appear because these people are being treated like sub-humans by a regime which does not even concede to them the right to the status of prisoner of war, which would entitle them to protection under a number of conventions, the most famous of these being the Geneva Convention.
Instead, they are considered as illegal fighters, a term which has no precedent whatsoever and as such is not covered by any legal structure. These illegal fighters are incarcerated in deplorable conditions, many of them for more than a year and without any formal accusation, without access to legal counsel and without the right to have visitors.
Guantanamo is an American concentration camp on Cuban soil, a country which is accused of being totalitarian. What an excellent example the USA sets, what a great difference they illustrate between the regimes of these two countries. One is democratic and practises democracy. The other claims to be democratic yet maintains concentration camps on foreign soil away from the prying eyes of its journalists.
Shame on the Bush administration. Guantanamo brings back memories of Belsen and Dachau, which speaks volumes about the nature of the George W. Bush regime.[/quote]