Photo: From ACLU
WHAT WAR BRINGS: unending imprisonment and disregard for the rule of law
Well, technically, people who are thrown into prison are not there indefinitely. If nothing else, one day they will die. But I think it feels UNENDING to those who are held for years and years without charges, trials, juries, sentences or even any idea why they are being detained. (Rather like a kidnapping, isn’t it? Except you may have some idea why the kidnapping happened, which is often not true with imprisonments during wars and occupations. ) They have no idea when their nightmare might end.
At its peak
Here’s one story from
"I was there for 18 months," said Mohaamed al-Janabi, 20, a Sunni Muslim from the outskirts of
There are claims that
Another prisoner at
Mashhadani says he suffered psychological abuse at
So, the good news is that most of the prisoners detained by the
The unrest began on Thursday, when three inmates started a fire in their cell "and tried to overpower guards in an apparent escape attempt",
…..Some Iraqi media said there had been fatalities, but Master Sgt Conner said the Iraqi authorities reported that three guards and three inmates had been injured. It was not clear what sparked the incident, although some reports said inmates were unhappy about jail conditions.
One cute thing about this BBC article is the claim that Saddam did torture and executions at Abu Ghraib, while the American troops engaged in abuse and humiliation. Since inmates died under US troops at Abu Ghraib (we saw the photos!), does that mean they died of humiliation or abuse? Somehow, I don’t think so. Funny how Obama does not want the world to see the pictures of what was done in these prisons, considering it was only “humiliation and abuse”. (The hypocrisy is astounding.)
Well, the prisons are running full steam ahead in
Until 2007, there was, as the Post explained, “no formal process to review prisoner status,” and, as District Court Judge John D. Bates noted in April, the system that was then put in place — consisting of Unlawful Enemy Combatant Review Boards (UECRB) — “falls well short of what the Supreme Court found inadequate at Guantánamo” (in Boumediene v. Bush, the June 2008 ruling granting the prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights), being both “inadequate” and “more error-prone” than the notoriously inadequate and error-prone system of Combatant Status Review Tribunals that was established at Guantánamo to review the prisoners’ cases.
This review board did not allow the prisoners to have personal representation, and the prisoners had to represent themselves without information on what they were being held for. Judge Bates said this about the system there:
Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what evidence the
There are changes coming – which on the surface do address the deficiencies noted by Judge Bates – without actually meeting the standards of the Geneva Convention. The return to the rule of law is looking dimmer every day under the Obama administration.
The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday. Human rights advocates condemned the decision, saying that continuing the practice, known as rendition, would still allow the transfer of prisoners to countries with a history of torture. They said that promises from other countries of humane treatment, called “diplomatic assurances,” were no protection against abuse.
And in a Daily Kos diary by Amnesty International
Conditions in Bagram are reportedly horrible. Prisoners there held a protest in July 2009. They refused to leave their cells for over two weeks to protest their indefinite imprisonment.
The prisoners are reported to be protesting against what they say are a lack of basic rights such as access to lawyers or independent reviews of their status. The Washington Post newspaper recently reported that prisoners in Bagram have been protesting against their "indefinite detention". The protest is said to have started at the beginning of July.
"During our last regular visit at the beginning of July, the detainees told us they did not want to participate in the family video phone call and family visit," Jessica Barry, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told told the AFP news agency. The prisoners are also reported to have declined family visits and outside recreation time.
I have not read of any follow up to this prisoner riot, so I don’t know if it still continues or if the prisoner’s complaints have been addressed. The above article also mentions the BBC report on how prisoners were treated at Bagram. The BBC report is in the You Tube video below. The BBC spoke to 27 prisoners, and only two of them said they were treated well. The others complained of beatings, being sleep-deprived, and threatened with dogs. The usual, I guess.
….. conditions worsened in the larger Afghan-run prison network, which houses more than 15,000 detainees at three dozen overcrowded and often violent sites. The country’s deeply flawed judicial system affords prisoners virtually no legal protections, human rights advocates say. “Throughout Afghanistan, Afghans are arbitrarily detained by police, prosecutors, judges and detention center officials with alarming regularity,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report in January.
Some Afghan prisoners are held at a new prison built with American money and run by American-trained Afghan soldiers. It holds 4,300 prisoners, including some 360 from Bagram or
“We are better than what I saw in those pictures.”
We are, huh? Then who was in those pictures? Space aliens who invaded US troop’s bodies? How come the people who ordered and approved these torture events are not facing criminal charges, if we are better than that? And how come we can’t see those photos? This is a report from Spiegel, a German magazine. It was released in September 2009.
To this day, there are hardly any photos from inside Bagram, and journalists have never been given access to the detention center. Although exact numbers are unknown, there are believed to be about 600 detainees at Bagram, or close to three times as many as there currently are at
A recent report by Spiegel claims that the Obama administration has completely failed in reversing the human rights violations of the Bush administration.
…..There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration's position with respect to Bagram detainees' rights. They have made much ado about nothing, in the hope that the courts and the public will not examine the issue more closely.
……… Amin Al Bakri -- a Yemeni gem trader who was kidnapped while on a business trip in
………. Our client Jawed "Jojo" Ahmad was a young journalist working for the Canadian television network CTV. He was also taken into custody by the military and held without charge for more than a year before the
There is more information on Jawed Ahmad under my diary WHAT WAR BRINGS: the killing of journalists. All the above is not going to stop this.
And, guess what? We are also paying their government to do stupid, freedom-stomping things like this:
Sentenced to death for reportedly downloading an article on women's rights and showing it to classmates, Parvez Kambash could be forgiven for believing little progress has been made since the international community first arrived in
His sentence was commuted to a 22 year prison term, all for downloading an article on women’s rights. This is what we are doing there in
And then there is
What most people don't realize is that Bagram has always been far worse than
Meanwhile, back here in the
Defendants who have never been tried or convicted of anything are locked in solitary confinement, sometimes for years. Evidence is routinely kept secret from the defense. Attorneys are forbidden to reveal classified information even if it's already in the public domain. (Among the materials deemed too hot for public consumption in Hashmi's case is a college term paper titled "How Did 9/11 Change the World?") In some cases, the prosecutors are not permitted to view the most sensitive classified evidence in their own cases—instead, intelligence agencies present this critical information to the judge alone. Many of these cases involve US citizens or legal residents; in many instances, they are setting precedents that degrade legal standards across the system.
This, according to the government, is how Hashmi ended up behind bars: In 2004, while in graduate school in
I would call a possible 70 years in prison for hosting a house guest ‘unending imprisonment.’ He has already been in prison for three years, in a windowless cell, in solitary confinement. He is not allowed TV or radio, and few visits with his family. His lawyer says he is going mad from the isolation.
To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom. But confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten; is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government. ~ William Blackstone
(h/t/ to Jay Elias’s diary “Bush Appointee Eviscerates Ashcroft in 9th Circuit Decision” for the above quote.)
If you support the continued occupation of
BBC Report on continued torture at Bagram AFB