Guantánamo: where will it end, where will it end?

As I was saying the other day, Obama’s promise to close Guantánamo within a year falls due, so to speak, today.

It hasn’t happened. Instead, in a pale reflection of what was promised, we’ve seen just 46 of 242 prisoners transferred out of the camp, the latest – two Algerians – sent back to Algeria this week.

I won’t go on and on (again) about how disappointing this is (though read a recent Amnesty post here if you want a sense of this), but instead point you in the direction of a big interview feature with Omar Deghayes in yesterday’s Guardian.

Omar, you may remember, is one of the UK residents who were held at Guantánamo. Because he’s not a UK national (he’s Libyan, in fact a refugee from Gaddafi’s regime), he was originally abandoned by the British government, their attitude being he’s Libyan not British, let Libya take him and never mind whether he’ll be locked up or tortured there

The Guardian interview is compelling and moving. Omar appears to be – almost – mentally unbreakable. Certainly a man of incredible psychological strength and will-power. Actually, having had many dealings over the years with Omar’s amazing sister, Amani – one of the most down-to-earth and modest human rights campaigners you could ever come across – I can sense that Omar is probably very similar. A no-nonsense, no-drama type. But like Amani, he also seems completely and unflinchingly resolute. (This is also how he comes across in Andy Worthington’s very illuminating film Outside The Law; this is screening at Amnesty’s London office on 16 February). (By the by – in Omar’s interview I rather liked his comparison of Brighton to Tripoli – both by the sea, you see!)

Anyway, although Omar is thankfully back in Brighton (Saltdean, to be exact), another UK resident, Shaker Aamer, is still imprisoned at Guantánamo nearly eight years after he was first taken there. There’s every reason to fear that he has been as badly treated as Omar appears to have been. Please support Amnesty’s new call on David Miliband to step up efforts to get Shaker out of Guantánamo.

To sum up (at least for today!), Guantánamo has been a thoroughgoing disgrace and the US should be moving far faster to get this sorry mess sorted out. Instead, they could well be digging themselves – and a lot of detainees – into another hole with reported plans to imprison some of the GITMO contingent (about 50 men according to today's Washington Post) indefinitely without charge or trial.

Unbelievable. As Ian Curtis used to say – where will it end, where will it end…?

 

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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.
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