January 12, 2012, is the 10th anniversary of the day when terrorism suspects were subjected to indefinite incarceration in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, generally in the absence of any charges or trial.
U.S. authorities admit to the detention of 779 detainees, at least 12 of whom were younger than 18 when detained. Eight died while in detention, six purportedly by suicide.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the detainees “had the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention,” but by then over 500 of them had been transferred out of Guantanamo, according to an Amnesty International media briefing, 16 December 2011. Wonder why?
Most Americans have probably heard that detainees at Guantanamo were subjected to many forms of assault identified as torture in international law, plus what the military calls “soft torture”—for example, incessantly blasting the prisoners with loud rock songs such as (please pardon the shocking verbatim quote) “Fuck Your God.”
Think of waterboarding, hanging victims by their wrists for hours, terrifying them with vicious dogs. What would you want to do if someone did that to your friends, or family, or members of your community?
A boston.com article about President Obama on January 22, 2009, said that “He signed executive orders to shut down the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center within a year and to ban harsh interrogations…” The article also reported that Obama’s incoming director of national intelligence, Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, told Congress that the detention center is “a damaging symbol to the world [and] a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and harmful to our national security.”
Good ideas, but the detention center still has more than 100 prisoners. Time for a change? This coming Wednesday, January 11, will be a National Day of Action to Close Guantanamo; there will be nonviolent actions across the country, with a major demonstration planned in Washington, DC. Please support these efforts in mind and heart if not in action.
For additional resources, see:
- The trailer for the Road to Guantanamo
- The complete documentary, Road to Guantanamo
- The documentary, Policy of Torture: Taxi to the Dark Side
- 60 Minutes: Nightmare at Guantanamo Bay.
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology