The Acts of the Democracies

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2007

USA and Human Rights

After five years, the USA continues to hold prisoners without charge or trial, access to family or legal representation in a military base called Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. None of the prisoners has gone through legal extradition procedures - all have, in effect, been kidnapped by the USA. All prisoners are considered as "enemy combatants" by the USA even though many were not captured in battle and all should be held under the Geneva Conventions. There have been numerous reports of abuse, humiliation and torture. Prisoners are not allowed to see any evidence against them. The UK government has made no attempt to help eight UK residents who are being held.

The following figures are as 10 June 2007.

Number of prisoners detained400
Number of prisoners released since 2002340
Number of prisoners to be charged by the USA70
Number of prisoners who have attempted suicide40
Number of prisoners charged10
Number of prisoners who have committed suicide3
Number of prisoners brought to trial1

Guantanamo Bay is one of many detention centres run by the USA around the world. In August 2006, there were 14,000 prisoners in USA custody around the world.

In March the USA begins a number hearings for 14 detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The prisoners are without legal representation. The hearings are to determine whether the detainees are to be labelled as "enemy combatants", a USA term with no international validity. If found "guilty" the prisoners can be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals. All the prisoners had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006 after years held in secret CIA prisons.

Both defence lawyers and reporters were barred from the proceedings.

One 20 year old detainee from Canada, Omar Khadr, had not spoken to his family between 2002 and 2007 when he was allowed a telephone call. The call was permitted only after months of lobbying the USA military by lawyers. One of the lawyers, Rick Wilson, a law professor at the American University in Washington, stated: "We made arguments based on his youth and the amount of time he's spent away from his family, and apparently those were persuasive."

Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national who is resident in the UK, is released without charge from Guantanamo Bay after nearly five years. He was detained while on a trip to Gambia in 2002.

Another detainee is Sami al-Haj, a journalist from Sudan who was a cameraman working for Al-Jazeera television. In June 2007 he had been in detention for five years and has a son he does not know.

He had been arrested in Pakistan close to the border Afghanistan. All his documents were valid. For five years he was held in a small cell and allowed to excercis for one hour per week. He had only been working for Al-Jazeera for a few months. For the five years of his detention he was not chanrged with any crime. During over 130 interrogations he was not asked about terrorism but was questioned about the workings of Al-Jazeera. His lawyer reports that al-Haj has been told that he would be released if he were to spy for the USA against his employer.

He described tortures on himself and other detainees including having testicles squeezed by female guards, having to watch guards having sex, detainnes having menstral blood smeared onto their bodies, being forced to walk on all fours while guards ride on the back of a prisoner, deprivation of sleep, having Israeli and USA flags warpped around them, being terrorised by dogs and solitary confinement for years.

Jumah al-Dossari has been detained for four years without charge. He has been beaten, sexually abused and watched USA guards abuse the Koran. He has attempted suicide 12 times, once during a visit by a lawyer.

Majid Khan, previously a resident of Baltimore, was held in secret CIA-run prisons before being transferred to Guant�namo Bay in 2006 after a USA Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions should apply to �war on terror� detainees.

Khan came to the USA in 1996 from Pakistan and has been granted asylum. In 2003, he visited Pakistan to see his wife and family. In March 2003, Pakistani police arrested him, his brother, his sister-in-law and their 1 month old daughter in a midnight raid on their house.

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR): �Majid�s sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for a week. Pakistani officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid�s brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid�s family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.�

The family knew nothing until September 2006 when the USA described him as a �ghost detainee� being transferred to Guant�namo Bay. Khan was retied to a chair every hour with his bonds tightened each time so that it was more painful. He was often hooded and had difficulty breathing. He was beaten repeatedly, slapped him in the face, and deprived of sleep. When not being interrogated, he was kept in a small totally dark cell. The cell was too small for him to lie down in or sit in with his legs stretched out - he could only crouch. The room was infested with mosquitoes. This torture only stopped when he agreed to sign a statement that he was not allowed to read.

The USA CIA denies torturing Khan. However the USA Justice Department stated that he should not be allowed to speak to a civilian lawyer, because he might �reveal the agency�s closely guarded interrogation techniques.�

Chalmers Johnson of the Japan Policy Research Institute publishes details of the number of USA personnel and bases around the world as at 2005. The figures are taken from the USA's own Defence Department inventory, trade and building magazines and other sources. This information is very rarely found in the mainstream news media.

Number of USA personnel in bases outside of the USA2,500,000
Number of uniformed USA military personnel in bases outside of the USA196,975
Number of local people hired to work in USA bases outside of the USA81,425
Number of USA bases in foreign countries737
Number of medium and large USA bases in foreign countries (naval and air)39
Value of foreign bases$ 127,000 million
Number of barracks, hangars, hospitals and other buildings owned by the USA military outside the USA32,327
Number of barracks, hangars, hospitals and other buildings leased by the USA military outside the USA16,527

The numbers, though large, are not complete as they do not include bases in Kosovo (Serbia), Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan.

Iraq (under USA occupation in 2007) had 106 garrisons (May 2005). The island of Okinawa (Japan) has 38 USA bases that cover 19% of the island's prime sites.

A number of military and espionage installations in the UK (worth $ 5,000 million and disguised as Royal Air Force bases) are also excluded from USA figures.

Many countries insist that the USA does not publicise the presence of its bases on their soil. This includes Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The topic of USA bases is generally not reported in the media of the USA.

Around the world in 2007, 95% of all foreign military bases belong to the USA.

The USA has negotiated agreements which allow it access to other country's sea and air space. In addition it has insisted on what are called Article 98 agreements. These controversial treaties are designed to exempt USA citizens from prosecution under the International Criminal Court (which the USA has refused to sign up to).

The USA states that Iranian bombs are being used to kill USA soldiers in Iraq. The following figures are from the USA writer Robert Weitzel:

Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos297 million
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Kosovo (1999)290,000
Number of civilians killed by cluster bombs in Kosovo in the 12 months after the end of hostilities151
Number of unexploded cluster bombs in Afghanistan as at 20075,000
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Iraq and Kuwait in 199154 million
Number of cluster bombs dropped by the USA in Iraq in 20032 million
Number of unexploded cluster bombs in Iraq in 200713 million
Number of USA made cluster bombs dropped by Israel in Lebanon in 20064 million
Number of unexplodede cluster bombs in Lebanon (2007)350,000

During aviation negociations between Europe and the USA, one of the points of contention is that European companies are allowed to own no more than 25% of USA airlines whereas the USA can control up to 49% of European carriers.

In April Amnesty International publish a report saying that conditions at the USA detention camp at Guantanamo Bay are deteriorating. some detainees at the camp are close to mental and physical breakdown. The report states that over 160 prisoners (roughly 30%) have been moved to a new building called Camp Six. The report continues: "Amnesty International believes that conditions in Camp Six, as shown in photographs or described by detainees and their attorneys, contravene international standards for humane treatment."

Camp Six is composed of windowless, steel cells where prisoners are confined for at least 22 hours a day. According to Amnesty, Camp Six has created increased conditions of extreme isolation, to the detriment of prisoners' mental health: "...in Camp Six is that detainees have no way of knowing whether it is day or night."

The USA attempts to interpret the law to allow the use of torture. This prompts Elisa Massimino, director of Human Rights First to state �Instead of abiding by the law, the administration stocks the Justice Department with lawyers who will say that black is white and wrong is right and waterboarding is not torture.�

Seventy countries meet in Peru to ban cluster bombs which kill thousands of civilians every year. The biggest users and manufacturers of these weapons (USA, UK and Israel) fail to attend.

Osama Bin Laden produces a video in September attacking USA foreign policy. The Western media condemn the video without broadcasting its contents. Some extracts are listed below:

John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton publish a book (The Best War Ever) detailing how the USA uses propaganda in the Arab world. The USA Pentagon paid $5,400,000 to a public relations firm called the Lincoln Group. The company was responsible for giving USA government money to Iraqi media and newspapers to carry stories written by USA "information operations". The stories and articles are designed to creative a positive image for the role of the USA in Iraq.

The articles would be drafted by Pentagon staff and then planted in Iraqi and other Arabic newspapers by the Lincoln Group: "When delivering the stories to media outlets in Baghdad, Lincoln's staff and subcontractors sometimes posted as freelance reported or advertising executives. The amounts paid ranged from $50 to $2,000 per story placed. All told, the Lincoln Group had planted more than 1,000 stories in the Iraqi and Arab press."

This policy of paying newspapers for positive stories about the USA or negative stories about its enemies has been used before by the USA. In the examples below, newspapers promoted false news aimed at undermining a governments or its leader, reported non-existent shortages to create a panic that would induce an actual shortage and defended hostile economic and military actions by the USA.

The USA (along with Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the UK) votes against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for peaceful uses of outer space. This was one of several such votes in 2007.

The USA also voted against a female anti-descrimination resolution, three times, and against a convention for the rights of children (183 to 1).

The USA alone voted against the right for food.

The USA (and Israel) also voted against a resolution protecting civilians under the Geneva Convention at times of war.

The USA (and Japan) voted against global climate protection.

The USA (and UK and France) voted against the implementation of the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace.

© 2014, KryssTal


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