Cupid gets away with wearing a blindfold… but justice needs perfect vision.
Cupid is especially busy on Valentine’s Day, but his methods leave much to chance. The mischievous love god blindfolds himself before firing his arrow through a new lover’s heart. An indiscriminate approach, but those arrows are pretty effective.
In 2001, the US military’s strategy for capturing terror suspects was as arbitrary as Cupid’s approach to love… but with less success. More than 85% of the men who have been held at Guantánamo Bay detention centre were arrested by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan or in Pakistan, where rewards of $5000 were paid to those handing over suspects to the United States. In other words, the evidence against most of the captives was flimsy or non-existent from the beginning. This lack of evidence is reflected in the number of convictions at Guantánamo: only seven of the 779 prisoners have been convicted in military trials.
Nine prisoners have died in detention, but the vast majority have been either released without charge or cleared for transfer. Shaker Aamer is one of the 54 who remain in limbo: the prisoners who have been told they will not be charged but are yet to be freed. In fact, the US military has never charged Aamer with an offence, and he was cleared for transfer eight years ago.
Aamer was brought to Guantánamo on Valentine’s Day 2002. Although he has always insisted he was in Afghanistan for charity work, the US military began compiling a dossier of allegations against him. Aamer’s lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, suggests the claims are defamatory; the evidence (sic) was obtained through torture (of him and other prisoners).
If truth is the most beautiful red rose, hidden at the centre of a bush, then evidence from torture only grows more thorny branches to cover it. Torture can never provide answers. Galileo Galilei, who was born a few hours after Valentine’s Day, 15 February 1564, was shown the implements that would be used to torture him. This was enough for him to yield to his captors’ demands and withdraw his claim that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Shaker Aamer has now been away from his wife and family for thirteen years. Valentine's Day also happens to be the birthday of his son, whom he is yet to see. Let us ensure, as a matter of urgency, that he is returned home and that his ordeal is ended.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.