NI: Guantánamo detainee tells Belfast audience:‘US and UK repeating mistakes of 1970s Northern Ireland’
Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at the infamous Guantánamo Bay speaking in Belfast tonight (Saturday 4 November), has accused the American and British governments of repeating the mistakes of 1970s UK counter-terrorism policy in Northern Ireland in their current ‘war on terror’.
Mr Begg was giving this year’s Amnesty International Annual Lecture in Belfast.
He said: “Internment, the abuse of prisoners and demonisation rather than dialogue were tried and failed in Northern Ireland decades ago. Any intelligent citizen of this country must ask: ‘Why are doing this all over again? Why are repeating mistakes? Why is our government going along with US policies which undermine basic human rights and make the world a more dangerous place?’”
Moazzam was seized by the CIA from Islamabad in February 2002 as part of the US-led ‘war on terror’. He was initially held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan for a year, where he suffered abuses at the hands of his jailers, before being transferred to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. Here he was held for a further two years, spending long periods of time in solitary confinement.
He was never charged with any crime. After years of campaigning by his father, Amnesty International and others he was finally released along with three others on January 25th 2005. Since then, he has campaigned relentlessly for justice for the hundreds of detainees still held at Guantánamo Bay.
Moazzam was talking about his experiences as one person caught up in the ‘war on terror’ as he gave the Amnesty International Annual lecture. held in association with the Human Rights Centre at Queens - part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s.