Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Bagram: Where the future of Guantanamo meets its tortuous past

Moazzam Begg- 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.

In April this year, a report issued by Cageprisoners entitled Fabricating Terrorism II highlighted through eyewitness testimony the cases of 29 people, all of them either British residents or citizens, who had allegedly been tortured and abused in the presence of British intelligence agents or at their behest.

One of them, the case of Farid Hilali, featured in the Guardian newspaper, showed how allegations of complicity in torture against British intelligence predated the Sept. 11 attacks. The story of Jamil Rahman too – regarding allegations of British complicity in his torture in Bangladesh – would have been included in the report but he was worried at the time about the safety of his family. The recurrent factor in all these cases is the extent to which denial and prevarication remain as much a part of the intelligence services’ arsenal as outsourcing torture and abuse. The others include the British cases of Omar Deghayes, Bisher Al-Rawi, Jamil Elbanna, Richard Belmar, Shaker Aamer and Binyam Mohamed – all of whom were held at Bagram.

Shortly after I returned from Guantanamo my father showed me a letter he received from the British Foreign Office. The letter, written in 2002, claims that UK officials were not given access to prisoners in Bagram. At the time, I was being held captive there by the U.S. military and, amongst other alphabet intelligence agencies, was being interrogated by MI5, who were aware that torture, abusive and degrading treatment was being meted out to prisoners– including British citizens.

from The Great Debate UK:

Bagram lesser known – but more evil – twin of Guantanamo

clara_gutteridge-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.

Bagram Airforce Base is Guantanamo Bay’s lesser known - but more evil - twin. Thousands of prisoners have been "through the system" at Bagram, and around 600 are currently held there. Meanwhile President Obama’s lawyers are fighting to hold them incommunicado; stripped of the right to challenge the reasons for their imprisonment.

from The Great Debate UK:

No we can’t: Obama’s Guantanamo

Cori Crider

- 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.

It is four months since that decision. The president gave a speech, "clarifying" his plans for Guantanamo on Thursday. But I fear we will all look back on May 21, 2009, as the day real history was made—The Day President Obama Un-Closed Guantanamo.

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