The following constitutes mainly a repost of something I've written last year, along with new commentary added. The reason for this is simple: there has been zero development on the matter since last year.
August 16, 2007
No - the title is not a mistake, nor a typographical error of the term "No man's land". This is about real human beings who find themselves without a land to call their own for the sole crime of having been wrongly imprisoned at Gitmo.
As of the month of August, 2007, some 80 Guatanamo Bay detainees have been cleared of all charges with regards to terrorism, as well as having been definitely established as constituting no threat whatsoever to the security of the U.S.A.
Yet they remain Gitmo detainees.
Furthermore, Army officials expect about 70 more of the remaining other 360 detainees to be likewise cleared.
Yet, most of them will also remain Gitmo detainees.
Why? Because no one wants them.
You see, once detainees are cleared of charges and whatnot, then the U.S.A. has the responsibility of transferring them to a terre d'acceuil (welcoming country) where they will not be tortured, mistreated or executed. This is in fact a matter of stated policy:
"Before it puts detainees on a plane, the U.S. must find a country to accept them. It also must obtain assurances the prisoners will be prevented from attacking the United States or its allies, and will not be tortured or face other treatment that violates international law."
Take the example of those 22 ethnic Uyghurs from China's Xinjiang region - Muslims one and all. They were transferred to U.S. custody by Pakistani bounty hunters after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, thereafter branded by the U.S. military as enemy combatants and consequently shipped to Gitmo. All the while, they maintained that they were en route to Iran and Turkey in order to seek refugee status in these Muslim countries - because Uyghurs are harshly persecuted in China. It was not until early 2005 that they were finally given a chance to defend themselves, whereby a (secret) military tribunal determined that they posed no threat to the U.S.A.
The problem came when U.S. officials sought to transfer them to another country - after all, they could not be sent back to China where they would be most certainly persecuted. Western countries were approached to grant these innocent men asylum, but all so approached refused - including Canada. Albania accepted to welcome five of the twenty-two back in 2006 - and those five are currently living in squalid conditions. The remaining 17 still languish to this day in Gitmo. There is no information available on whether the U.S. approached Turkey or (gasp!) Iran as well, two of the countries the detainees were seeking to reach initially, or whether the thought of doing so even crossed the obtuse minds of the officials involved in this apparently extraordinarily challenging repatriation process. Then again, perhaps these two countries have indeed been approached, but could not provide "satisfactory" assurances that "the prisoners will be prevented from attacking the United States or its allies".
Indeed - Heaven forbid that innocent Muslims be repatriated to welcoming Muslim countries - after all, virtually every single one of these countries is complicit in one way or another with radical Muslim terrorists, right? And forget about welcoming such people in the U.S.A. proper - if only as a small gesture of reparation for the horrific and brutal injustice perpetrated upon them - because, apparently, more Muslims are not wanted.
Another example of such utter injustice provides further evidence to support my suspicions that the whole "challenging" aspect of repatriating innocent Muslim Gitmo detainees lies primarily with intellectual sloth-driven fear, mistrust and/or outright bigotry: about ten days ago, Britain's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked for the transfer of five (innocent/cleared) Muslim British residents held at Gitmo, whereas his predecessor, Tony Blair, would not accept the detainees because they were not citizens proper.
Good on Prime Minister Brown, but bully on Tony Blair.
I also call bully on my own Canadian government for still mendaciously disassembling on the decision to take any of these poor, innocent men who have been ravaged by barbarity.
So, in short: Muslims come to be wrongly detained at Gitmo. Said Muslims are thereafter cleared of any charges and established as being of no threat to the U.S.A. Same said Muslims will not be granted asylum by Western countries (and U.S. allies), while Muslim countries are not likewise approached - apparently. End result: same said innocent Muslims remain incarcerated nevertheless.
Moral of the story: go to Gitmo and become a no land's man.
Oh, sure - innocent residents of Gitmo get to be moved to an "upgraded" part of the prison called Camp Iguana, where they live nine to a hut. They have a recreation room and a view of the Caribbean (oh, goody!). But they are still surrounded by barbed wire and are rarely able to communicate with their families. They still remain in utter limbo.
That. Is. Justice. For. You.
All in the sacro-sanct name of Security.
Doesn't it make you feel so proud and patriotic?
God bless America and God bless Canada, f***ing indeed.
But the ugly truth is that all of us are guilty for our silence and absence of outrage. All of us have been irremediably stained for such a sociopathic lack of basic human decency, empathy, compassion and contrition.
How's that working out for you?
(Update: 08/16/2007 - While writing this article, news came out that former Gitmo detainee/enemy combatant Jose Padilla has been found guilty-by-jury of terror charges in a Miami court. This clearly illustrates the merits and requirement of a judicial system which provides due process, justice and due punishment (if warranted) - as if we ever needed to be reminded of such a truism in the first place. The whole of my present article remains nonetheless.)
As I think of them, I also think of those dozens (hundreds?) who have been tortured over the years, thanks to the Bush administration's policy which has ever been supported - if not encouraged and staunchly defended - by pundits, lawyers, justices, politicians, warhawks, chickenhawks and all assorted fear- and hate-driven neocon enablers, supporters and apologists - including all those ostriches who would rather bury their heads in the sand rather than face the awful, ugly truth:
The U.S.A. has become a rogue state which practices indefinite detention and torture.
And who cares if some of those "evil Muslims" die in the process, right? After all, indefinite detentions, secret tribunals and
Thus I ask again: how's that working out for you?
I humbly assume that I will be forgiven if I do not appreciate the "courageous" work done over the last seven years by the Bush administration and its cheerleading supporters - because from where I stand, they have spat upon and irreversibly sullied every precept of human dignity, of human respect, of Humanity, which used to be held as unassaillable and uncompromising, sacrosaint values.
And it doesn't matter however much they try to justify/legalize/spin their actions - for indeed, nothing justifies indefinite detention, secret tribunals and torture.
Every single one of these fear- and hate-driven incompetents have pushed us from the moral high ground of justice, freedom and human rights into the bottomless precipice of barbarous and savage injustice.
In other words - I have naught but utter contempt for those uncivilized, primitive non-human beings.
And that is how it has been working out for me.
Update (05/15/2008): From Raw Story ... read it and weep. Really. My contempt meter just blew up.
(Originally posted APOV)