Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Guantanamo and the Hypocrisy of World Politics

It seems as if the saga of the worlds “Symbol of injustice and Abuse” known as the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center will never end. On September 06, 2006 President Bush announced that fourteen suspected terrorists are to be transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and admitted that these suspects have been held in CIA black sites (whose existance had previously been denied). These 14 “high ranking” figures caught mostly between 2002-2003 had not been charged with any crimes until September 11, 2006, the timing of which begs to ask if it was mere coincidence or publicity stunt.

These events have refueled Eutropean critismn of Guantamo and the call for closure of the US dention/interrogation center. The latest critic, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett called for its closure as well calling it ‘unacceptable’ and claiming that it only fuels Islamic radicalism. To slam the US for its practices seems to be a rising trend in Europe however let us not be fooled into believing the hype of ‘public politics’. Hypocrisy is alive and well. According to documents made public this month in London, officials there recently rejected a U.S. offer to transfer 10 former British residents from Guantanamo to the United Kingdom, arguing that it would be too expensive to keep them under surveillance. Britain has also staved off a legal challenge by the relatives of some prisoners who sued to require the British government to seek their release.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also decried the abuses at Guantanmo calling for its closure while Germany had refused a Turkish citizen who was born and raised in Germany finally permitting him to return from Guantanamo in August 2006, four years after the German government turned down a U.S. proposal to release him.

Virtually all European governments have been vocal in their denouncement of Guantanmo Bay, however almost everyone of them have rebuffed any attempts to transfer or release prisoners/former prisoners to these countries. Over 100 countries refused even those seeking asylum after being cleared and released before Albania (the largest European Muslim country) accepted them.

This is hypocrisy at its best, the US who is the role of modern democracy and freedom is seen for what it is regarding Guantanmo:

“As a lawyer brought up to admire the ideals of American democracy and justice, I would have to say that I regard this a monstrous failure of justice. The military will act as interrogators, prosecutors and defence counsel, judges, and when death sentences are imposed, as executioners. The trials will be held in private. None of the guarantees of a fair trial need be observed.” Lord Steyn prominent former UK Judge

In an effort to ease its public relations nightmare, the US has sought to release several prisoners to their countries of residence, however they have been met with very blunt refusals by their closest allies who see it as “an American problem” – from Germany refusing to accept a legal German resident because he had failed to renew his German residency permit while he was locked up in Guantanamo, to England refusing to accept two residents who had legally immigrated to England in 1984 and 1994, because they did not have citizenship. It is also interesting to note that in this case, the men were seized in 2002 during a business trip to West Africa, taken to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan and later shipped to Cuba, all which occurred because British agents informed the CIA of their whereabouts after the two men had refused to work as informants for MI5 in London.

In the end we have the US and it hypocrisy being bitten by European hypocrisy and what we are left with is over 400 people suffering the abuses of “the gulag of our times”. May Allah protect all of those who suffer abuse and injustice.