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News ::
A case study in U.S. hypocrisy - Cuba, Human Rights and Guantanamo (english)
07 May 2003
A case study in U.S. hypocrisy
Cuba, human rights and Guantanamo
By Leslie Feinberg
A case study in U.S. hypocrisy
Cuba, human rights and Guantanamo
By Leslie Feinberg

It is cruelly ironic that the warlords in Washington are cranking up charges against Cuba about conditions for prisoners. Because on one small chunk of the island, illegally and imperiously occupied by the Pentagon against the will of the Cuban people since 1903, the United States operates a hell hole for its captives.

An estimated 664 people from 42 countries, including Afghanistan and Pales tine, have been hooded, manacled and transported to Guantanamo since the United States started its war against Afghanistan.

Some of those prisoners are as young as 13.

Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Barry Johnson refused to give the boys' names, nationalities or ages. But take his word for it that conditions are top-notch: apartments, video games, math lessons and psychotherapy. "I'm not sure where else in the world--given their status as enemy combatants--they would get this type of setup, an environment designed to facilitate their development." (Charlotte Observer, April 27)

But the reality of conditions trickles out. A U.S. military spokesperson recently stated that the interned children are being interrogated because they "have potential to provide important information." (counterpunch.org, April 24)

On April 22, ABC quoted the commander of Camp Delta confirming that child prisoners are interrogated. Journalist Matt Biven writes: "What kind of interrogations? That's secret. But sleep deprivation and beatings are two common 'torture lite' methods used at the camp." (The MoscowTimes.com, April 28)

Last September, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced he was trying to obtain consular access to a 15-year-old Canadian-born youth reportedly captured on July 27, 2002, after being seriously wounded. But U.S. officials have barred any access by Canadian officials to the boy, now 16, according to the April 28 Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Amnesty International points out that the U.S. government is breaching the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: "Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance."The internationally accepted definition of a child is anyone under the age of 18.

The United States has never ratified that treaty.

Children are not children?

Utilizing Orwellian logic, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admits children are imprisoned at Guantanamo but deems them "very, very dangerous" and therefore "not children."

That's the official position: "Teenagers younger than 16 being held at Guan tanamo Bay are 'not children' and pose a lethal threat that justifies detention, U.S. military chiefs insisted yesterday." (The Guardian, April 26)

This verbal sleight of hand is designed to distract from the fact that not one single person of any age being held in captivity at Guantanamo has been charged with any crime whatsoever. They are all officially "suspects."

Camp Delta is a legal limbo enclosed by 17.4 miles of barbed wire fence four layers deep with 16 watchtowers. An estimated $42 million of U.S. taxpayers' dollars have already been sunk into constructing this concentration camp, and it's not finished yet.

Captors do not call their captives prisoners of war. In a linguistic somersault, the Pentagon says they are "unlawful enemy combatants" and therefore can't seek the shelter of Geneva Conventions or other international humanitarian law.

They can't petition international courts for relief from illegal captivity. U.S. courts have ruled they have no jurisdiction. Detainees are not allowed to see families or lawyers. They are being held indefinitely. Journalists are not allowed near them.

Prisoners are caged in cells about six by six feet, enclosed in heavy-gauge wire mesh, with a sleep shelf and a hole in the ground for a toilet. They get only two showers and two 15-minute exercise periods a week.

As many as 25 suicide attempts have been officially reported--more than half in the last four months, according to the April 17 Guardian Unlimited. For a predominately Muslim population, this is staggeringly high and confirms fears about torture techniques.

But Lt. Col. Johnson, in language taken straight out of a Nazi propaganda handbook, says these abysmal conditions are designed to "facilitate the development" of the children under his control.


Reprinted from the May 8, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper
(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via email: ww (at) wwpublish.com. Subscribe wwnews-on (at) wwpublish.com. Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) wwpublish.com. Support independent news http://www.workers.org/orders/donate.php)

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