The Great Debate UK
– Clive Stafford Smith is the director of Reprieve, the UK legal action charity that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners. The opinions expressed are his own. -
As the British death toll climbed above 200 in Afghanistan this week, it became clearer that the politicians were betraying the soldiers who they were sending to fight and die.
The government talks about winning the battle for “hearts and minds” in Helmand Province – apparently oblivious to the loaded history of that phrase. This was the mantra of those who wasted 50,000 American lives in a futile battle to impose democracy at the end of a gun barrel in Vietnam.
Napalm never won an election, and nobody can expect an Afghan to warm to the rule of law when he witnesses his people being locked up in Bagram Air Force Base every day — abused and held without trial for years in Guantanamo’s evil twin. Bagram already holds three times as many prisoners as the Cuban black hole, and $50 million is being spent on a new prison that will add another 1,100 cells.
- Moazzam Begg is Director for the British organisation, Cageprisoners. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Little seems to have changed regarding the treatment of prisoners held at the U.S. military-run Bagram prison since I was there (2002-2004). The recent study conducted by the BBC shows allegations of sleep deprivation, stress positions, beatings, degrading treatment, religious and racial abuse have gone unabated. On a personal level though, I can’t help wonder if British intelligence services are still involved.
-Clara Gutteridge is renditions investigator at Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own.-
The big surprise in Tuesday’s revelations of prisoner abuse at Bagram is how long these stories have taken to reach the international media, given the scale of the problem.
- Cori Crider represents 30 Guantánamo prisoners as an attorney with legal charity Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own. -
You would be hard-pressed to find a kid more thrilled on Barack Obama’s first day in office than Mohammed el Gharani. On January 21, had you been standing at the right corner of Guantanamo Bay, you could have heard him whoop for joy when the U.S. President made history—so we thought—by closing the prison where el Gharani grew up.