WCW Home Take Action Videos & Reports of Demonstrations 1/18/22 What does Guantanamo mean?
1/18/22 What does Guantanamo mean? PDF Print E-mail

With the 20 years of truly massive damage inflicted on the globe by the U.S. "war on terror" - 65 million displaced, 4.5 million killed, devastated cultures and smashed hopes - some may wonder why the 779 men unjustly imprisoned in Guantanamo matter.

What the U.S. did, led by four presidents, in setting up the torture camp on land stolen from Cuba, and purposely outside of U.S. law, is part of the U.S. war of terror. Depriving people of due process by holding them without charge, torturing them in long-established and novel ways and messing with fundamental and international rule of law to justify this to continue the empire makes Guantanamo and the system that administered it a crime against humanity.

Crimes against humanity are immoral, unjust and make the states committing them illegitimate. That's why we protest Guantanamo and continue to demand its closure and justice for those imprisoned. Small protests were held in the U.S. and the UK on January 11, the 20th anniversary.

There is much more to learn and do here! This is a longer message than usual, to share with you several articles, a podcast and videos. They are posted here.

> Watch: NYC Close Guantanamo NOW rally, initiated by World Can't Wait, outside the main Public Library in Manhattan, Tuesday January 11

> Read American Crime Case: The Guantánamo Torture Chamber, RevCom

"The attacks of September 11, 2001 by reactionary Islamic fundamentalists were a serious jolt to the U.S. imperialist rulers, because their 'homeland' had come under attack and because it demonstrated that the Islamic fundamentalists and jihadists represented a serious challenge to U.S. domination of the Middle East and Central Asia regions. With the eyes of the world watching, the U.S. imperialist rulers felt the need to respond with a massive show of force and ruthless, no-holds-barred determination—to fill the enemy with terror, and demonstrate 'shock and awe' that would command respect and fear of the the U.S.’s determination and enormous power. They needed to punish the jihadists and totally crush, militarily and politically, this bold challenge to their leadership in the current world order.

They also aimed to broadly terrorize people in the regions the Islamic jihadists operated in and divide them from the jihadists. So they proceeded to round up anyone even remotely suspected of supporting the jihadists—as well as masses of people randomly. They threw them into prison indefinitely, torturing and interrogating them, to demonstrate to the world (and to the American people as well) how barbaric they could get against ANYONE who opposed them.

To try to avoid worsening the image of the U.S., this required new laws and new definitions of prisoners of war and of torture, and the establishment of the prison on Guantánamo to detain, interrogate, and punish prisoners captured in the now newly named 'war on terror'. These crimes against humanity were also a way to 'change the rules'—to redefine how the U.S. is to be looked at both internationally and domestically, hoping to train sections of the people to embrace brutal bellicosity and arbitrary dispensing of law and justice as the 'new normal'.”

> Read: As Guantánamo Turns 20, It Is Imperative That President Biden Finds the Political Will to Close It, Andy Worthington

"In countries that respect the rule of law, the only way to be stripped of your liberty is as a criminal suspect or as a prisoner of war protected by the Geneva Conventions. At Guantánamo, the Bush administration threw away the rulebook, holding men without any rights whatsoever as 'enemy combatants', who could be held indefinitely, with no requirement that they ever face charges, and with no legal mechanism in place to ever ensure their release. And despite legal challenges over the last 20 years, that is still fundamentally the situation that prevails today.

Statistics alone can’t capture the misery and lawless brutality of Guantánamo on this grim anniversary. 779 men have been held at Guantánamo by the US military since the prison opened on January 11, 2002. Nine men have died at the prison, all held without charge or trial, and all slandered by military after their deaths, just one man was successfully transferred to the US court system, where he was tried and convicted and is serving a life sentence in a Supermax prison, and 730 men have been released.

Even when they are released from Guantánamo, however, these former prisoners are not free. Many have been accused of being 'recidivists' — of returning to the battlefield — in US government reports that are fundamentally unbelievable, and those freed also remain haunted by the 'taint' of Guantánamo — still existing fundamentally without rights, prevented from traveling, harassed indiscriminately and sometimes even imprisoned, and generally finding it impossible to find work to support themselves. Of particular concern are many of those who, for a variety of reasons, could not be safely repatriated, and who have ended up in third countries, based on confidential agreements between the US and their host countries that are not publicly disclosed, and that have often failed to provide them with any basic protections or support."

Below, Andy Worthington, former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi, musician Roger Waters.

> Watch: Ex-Guantanamo Prisoners Speak About Their Experiences: 20 Years of Guantanamo Bay, CAGE

I watched this extraordinary video exchange among ex-prisoners, some of whom never met in GTMO, and possibly never will meet in person because of the repressive restrictions placed on their release. The wit, presence, curiosity, wisdom, joy, anger, and their different perspectives were so interesting, especially for those of us who heard their names for decades, and had to wonder what they were, and are, going through. Please take a little time now, or save this video for later.

> Listen: Guantanamo Bay Detention Center 20 Years Later, NPR The Takeaway

Features Carol Rosenberg, reporter on Guantamamo for 20 years and Mansoor Adayfi, former prisoner.

More on our NYC January 11 Guantanamo rally. Photos from top to bottom: Host Debra Sweet begins the presentations; attorney Nancy Hollander, who represents former and current Guantanamo prisoners, speaking; legal blogger Seth Farber speaking; Jeremy Varon, historian and activist, speaking; Raging Grannies singing. (Video above: Joe Friendly. Photos: Bill Ofenloch and Joel Simpson). Final photo taken in London January 8.


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