Guantanamo bay- if Obama won’t/can’t close it, who can?

He promised to shut it down- but it is still there. A prison where people have been taken from all over the world, often after being kidnapped on foreign soil. Once there, they are held in inhuman conditions, tortured and often given no hope of release.

Even when told that they can now be released, there is no guarantee. Years go by whilst people are waiting for the doors to be opened- including British nationals.

How can American people (and their foremost allies, the British) allow this to continue? What justification is there for such flagrant breach of the rule of law?

The official line concerns itself with depicting these men as dangerous terrorists, with information that is fundamental to fighting the ‘war on terror’. Perhaps some of the men were indeed involved in terror groups. What is now certain is that many were not. They were just like you and me, apart from their religion and the colour of their skin. This is what happens when knee jerk fear driven politics are given free reign rather than being made subject to the rule of law.

The stories of what happens to people at Guantanamo have trickled out. A few years ago I wrote a review of a book written by one of the inmates, another British man, Moazzam Begg.

Today we hear from official sources some confirmation of tactics Begg described being used to try to break the spirits of the inmates.

Small wonder that they are driven to making the only protest left open to them- refusing to eat. The Guardian had this on their website today;

In March 2013, reports of a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, the US detention camp in Cuba, began to surface. Details were sketchy and were contradicted by statements from the US military. Now, using testimony from five detainees, this animated film reveals the daily brutality of life inside Guantánamo. Today there are 17 prisoners still on hunger strike, 16 of whom are being force-fed. Two are in hospital.

A good start…

I watched Obama’s inauguration yesterday with interest, but considerable detachment. American politics always seem so different from our own- the hype, the necessity of huge financial resources and all sorts of power-brokeridge that we can only just guess at. Americans seem to have a reverence and deference for (and towards) whoever hold the office of President that British people never feel for their rulers.

I am also scarred by 1997, when the incoming Labour government promised so much in the UK, after so many damaging years of Tory government. I remember the hope for something new and genuinely different. And the creeping realisation that Blair’s government seemed unable to ever elevate principle over popularism and the manipulation of image.

But Obama made a good start. I enjoyed the moment when his jaw set a little firmer and he began to talk about how his government would have a totally different human rights agenda. The Camera cut to a close up of out-going president Bush.

Then today, I heard that one of the Obama’s first acts as President- on his first day in Office, was to suspend all the ‘trials’ of inmates currently contained in the infamous Guantanamo bay (Here is what the Guardian had to say.)

He had promised as much- so it should not have been a surprise

I have posted some thought previously on Guantanamo bay- here.

In particular, some thoughts about Omar Khadir, the 15 year old boy abducted and held in Guantanamo bay ‘interrogation centre’ . It is his trial that has been suspended today following the Presidents intervention. Here is footage from his interrogation, released by his defence team-

A good start Mr President.