Guantanamo Bay: Decades of Injustice
Twenty years have passed since the horrific 9/11 attacks, which killed 2,977, injured 6000 and led to a health fallout for survivors and responders. This year also marks the release of The Mauritanian, a movie based on the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who was held for fourteen years without charge in Guantanamo Bay. Salahi was among the lucky few to survive the military prison, which has attracted international condemnation and notoriety for its legacy of torture.
War on Terror
In the aftermath of 9/11, the then Bush administration established a detention camp on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. The purpose was to house suspected terrorists as one of the measures in the administration’s campaign against terrorism aka the ‘war on terror’. The administration chose to call detainees in the war against terrorism ‘unlawful enemy combatants’.
Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a formidable military prison to be held in. Escaping from the prison is not only difficult but also hazardous – you’d have to flee to Cuba or cross the Caribbean Sea.
Since 2002, about 780 detainees have been held in Guantanamo Bay. At the time of writing, 39 men were still held in the camp, of whom 12 have been charged with war crimes and 10 await trial. Furthermore, 17 detainees are held in indefinite detention, a state of limbo where they neither face charges nor have they been recommended for release. The United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch, have called the indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay a violation of international law.
Subverting US and international law
The US government never intended to house ‘enemy combatants’ in the ‘war on terror’ to give them a fair and just trial. They chose a place where they could subvert US and international law to hold suspected terrorists allegedly involved in terrorism against the country.
A disregard for the rule of law was apparent in the use of military commissions to try enemy combatants. It wasn’t a first for America. The US has a history of sorts in using military commissions to try enemy combatants of war crimes, beginning from the occupation in Mexico in 1847 to the Civil War, Philippine Insurrection and after WWII. From then on, the federal court and military justice systems took on the job of prosecuting alleged perpetrators of terrorism-related offenses.
Lethargic and ineffectual
The military commissions have been accused of violating fair trial standards. Pre-trial hearings of Guantanamo Bay inmates are plagued by procedural delays stemming from confusions over the rules from civilian and military courts to apply. Resultantly, since 9/11, the military commissions have convicted only eight detainees. Of them, four were overturned completely and one partially after the offences they were convicted of were deemed not to be war crimes. In the same time, federal courts have convicted more than 620 people on terrorism-related charges, notes the independent advocacy and action organization Human Rights First.
Guantanamo Bay holds the dubious reputation of being the longest-standing war prison in US history. The oldest Guantanamo prisoner, 73-old Saifulla Paracha, was cleared for release this year after 16 years at the camp. When reliable evidence exists, there’s nothing to stop a true criminal justice system from trying alleged enemy belligerents. In the absence of reliable evidence, detainees cannot be locked up indefinitely. This is yet another flagrant violation of human rights and international law by the US government.
Supreme Court actions against military commissions
In 2006, the Supreme Court struck down the military commissions, determining that they were procedurally flawed and unconstitutional, and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Congress passed the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which gave the President absolute power to determine who was an enemy of the country and to detain people indefinitely without charging them with a crime.
The administration of President George W. Bush made clear that it was not obliged to provide basic constitutional protections to prisoners as the naval base was outside US territory, or to follow the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians during wartime as the conventions did not apply to ‘unlawful enemy combatants’.
Torture of detainees
Guantanamo Bay has been condemned by several international human rights organizations for violating human rights, including illegal and indefinite detention, various forms of torture during interrogation, inhumane conditions, unfair trails, and more. The violations have gone unpunished.
Detainees face repeated and elaborate torture. Salahi endured isolation, sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual humiliation, temperature and sound extremes and a mock execution in a boat. Amnesty International recently released a report on the ongoing human rights violations at Guantanamo. The report notes that victims of torture do not receive adequate medical treatment and that transfers out of the prison have stalled.
The US has been tight-lipped about deaths by suicide at Guantanamo. Suicides accounted for the first inmate deaths at the camp, with a total of 41 suicide attempts among 29 prisoners until June 10, 2006. Since then, the Department of Defense has reported three suicide deaths.
Other countries have cooperated with the United States against the war on terrorism. Following public outcry, they have expressed regret for their complicity and compensated former prisoners. The UK, Poland and Canada have paid millions in reparations to ex-inmates tortured at Guantanamo.
Former inmates have also sued the US and allies that served as black sites for the torture of alleged terrorists prior to their transfer to Guantanamo Bay. Recently, a Palestinian man who was held at the military camp for 19 years without trial, took the US, UK and five other countries before a UN human rights panel on grounds of rendition and torture.
Closure in sight?
This year, UN rights experts called on the US to address the ongoing ill-treatment of Guantanamo Bay inmates, citing the advancing age and vulnerability of the remaining detainees. The fate of inmates has rested in changes in presidency – Obama sought to close the prison but faced opposition from the Congress, although he succeeded in reducing the number of inmates. Donald Trump kept Guantanamo Bay open indefinitely although he did express unhappiness at the costs of running the controversial prison. Current US President Joe Biden has promised to shutter the camp, and either release or transfer the remaining inmates, by the end of his term. Whatever the outcome, Guantanamo Bay will forever remain a human rights shame in the annals of history.
The US and Israel: The dog versus the wagging tail
The US and Israel: The dog versus the wagging tail. By: Khalid Amayreh.
It is an open secret that the United States has been the only country in the world that can prevent Israel from carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinians. Otherwise, the Zionist entity has absolutely no qualms against a full or partial extermination of the Palestinian people. Indeed, the very concept of “Ashmada” (annihilation or extermination) is well-established in the Talmudic literature.
Openly-Nazi Rabbis at the helm of power in Israel
Several years ago, a Rabbi by the name of Dov Lior, who holds a Judeo-Nazi ideology advocating the extermination of Palestinian civilians, co-authored a hair-raising book titled “Torat ha’Melekh” (the “Torah of the King”). In the book, he pointed out that there was no such a thing as “enemy civilians” during time of conflict.
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“The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them.
This is the real moral behind Israel’s Torah and we must not feel guilty due to foreign morals,” he was quoted as saying by the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv in 2004.
“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”
Lior is not a marginal figure in the Zionist religious establishment.
According to the late rabbi Menachem Froman, Lior “is considered among the most learned sages of the Torah in Israel..”
Another Rabbi, David Batzri, told followers that “it is impossible to mix the pure with the impure. They (the Arabs) are a blight, a devil, a disaster. The Arabs are donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all four. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean. They don’t have any place in our schools.”
In May 2007, Mordechai Elyahu, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, issued an edict that would permit the Israeli army to murder hundreds of thousands of Palestinians .
“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they don’t stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”
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Interestingly, these and like-minded rabbis are the actual rulers in Israel today, especially following the formation of the latest government, headed by Benyamin Netanyahu.
How the US sought to restrain Israeli bellicosity
Successive U.S. administrations have always sought to restrain Israel’s genocidal propensity, hoping that the Zionist state would not embark on wholesale genocidal massacres of Palestinians.
Normally, the US would give Israel state-of-the-art of the American technology of death. For example, Israel usually receives some of the latest and most lethal war systems before NATO members and in some cases before the US armed forces themselves. Thanks to this policy, the Israeli air-force is now only second to the US air-force.
Thus, the Israeli air-force can easily defeat the Royal British air-force, the French air-force, the Russian air-force, and the Chinese air-force.
The US consistently calculated that by aggrandizing the Israeli army, especially its air-force, the Jewish state would adopt relatively moderate policies in the region and be more willing to reach peace agreements with the Palestinians.
However, to the chagrin of the Americans, the political-military establishment in Israel, emboldened by its military might, became ever more extremist, recalcitrant and inflexible as far as the prospects of peace were concerned. Not only that, the Israeli leadership became more disobedient and even more contemptuous of the American government.
Some Israeli political and religious leaders even gasconaded about the tight Jewish domination of the American government, Congress and the two main political parties.
There have been two main consequences of this de facto Israeli defiance of its former master and guardian-ally.
First, the US. Leverage on Israel has never been as low and ineffective as it is today. This is despite America’s unfaltering strategic commitment to Israel’s security and military superiority (qualitative edge) overall Arab-Muslim nations combined).
In fact, one wouldn’t exaggerate much by arguing that within the frame of the American-Israeli alliance, Israel, not the U.S., now constitutes the centre of gravity.
This observation is vindicated by recent developments following the formation of the most openly-fascist government in Israel’s history, which has effectively scrapped all alleged shared values between the two countries. Thus statements by American officials voicing a modicum of US reservation over the new fascist dawn in Israel have been quite restrained, parsimonious, reluctant, and somewhat bashful.
Second, Israeli officials, including Benyamin Netanyahu, and broader Likud circles have been quite defiant and contemptuous of American officials, such as President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who reiterated U.S commitment to the two-state solution strategy.
Netanyahu retorted to Biden, saying “Israel doesn’t occupy foreign land.” A pro-Netanyahu writer advised the Americans “to take care of their crumbling democracy before lecturing Israel on occupied territories. More contemptuous is likely to be used by people like Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in reference to the Americans.
Who is the dog and who is the wagging tail?
The dog versus the wagging tail analogy is used to describe a situation in which a powerful entity like the US is being controlled by someone that is much less important or powerful like Israel. Today, the tail is entrenched in the driver’s seat like never before. The Wagging tail is the State of Israel, and the dog is, or should be, the United States of America. Small, isolated, dependent Israel no more dictates to the imperialist U.S. giant than a tail wags a dog.
In the past, Israel bullied the governments of the US to abandon erstwhile US policy vis-à-vis Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In the 1970s, for example, the US viewed the settlements as illegal and contravening the rule of international law. Eventually, however, the US came to view these criminal facts as mere “controversial” and incompatible with the aspiration for peace.”
Now, with the likes of Ben Gvir and Smotrich at the helm of power in Israel, it is more likely that the fascist clique in the Jewish state will eventually pull American leaders off to the Judeo-Nazi home-turf, not the other way around.
American leaders, whether Trump or Biden, simply lack the moral immunity to tell Netanyahu, who is merely Ben-Gvir’s and Smotrich’s public relations officer, “enough is enough”! These two words would be sufficient to put an end to the political career of any American president. (end)
Thousands of US Immigrant Workers Forced Into Modern Slavery
While, on the one end, thousands of immigrant workers are forced into modern slavery, migrant politics is once again taking center stage in the United States.
Last Thursday, two buses carrying immigrants and asylum seekers arrived near the residence of vice president Kamla Harris. Texas governor Greg Abbott said that the state of Texas “will continue to send migrants” until the white house comes up with strict policies to secure the border.
Since April, Texas has sent over 7,000 migrants to New York and Washington, DC. Not long before, Florida’s governor sent over 50 undocumented migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Politicians are, once again, inconsiderately using immigrant men, women, and children as political pawns. But nobody is talking about the suffering and exploitation these immigrants, even with a work visa, are facing.
The Reality of Immigrant Workers: The Operation Blooming Onion
Immigrant exploitation is nothing new in the US. The roots of forced labor — an ugly legacy of slavery — still run deep in the US labor market.
One live example is the recent crackdown in the field of southern Georgia, where 24 people were named in a federal indictment accused of Moder-Day-Slavery. For over three years, the 24 prosecutors trafficked migrant workers from Central America and Mexico and subjected them to horrendous working conditions on the farms in Georgia.
On further investigation, the authorities found that the culprits were a part of a transactional criminal organization that has been trafficking immigrant workers since 2015.
The victims were forced to live in cramped, dirty trailers with raw sewage leaking into the trailers, threatened with separation, and detained in a work comp surrounded by a work fence. And this is only a small fraction of thousands of suffering through immigrant exploitation under modern-day slavery.
The Ugly Face of Forced Labor & Modern Slavery in the US
For most natives of developing and under-developed nations, landing a job in the US is a dream come true. The same was true for Jayson, a construction worker in the Philippines, when his boss offered him a handsomely paying job in the states. But it soon became a nightmare.
Not long after he arrived in the US on a P-1 visa for athletes (as recommended by his recruiter), he realized that he was not here as a worker but as a trafficked laborer.
In the name of safekeeping, the recruiter took Jayson’s passport and asked him to pay $12,000 for a work Visa. Unaware of his rights and visa policies, he worked for the trafficker for nine months (in awful working conditions at a low wage of $400/month) until he was rescued by the FBI.
What’s worst? Jayson is not alone. Lured by the salary, status, and potentially bright future, thousands of temporary migrant workers fall into the trap of forced labor in the US every year.
Read More: Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery Still Exist
The Exploitation of Immigrant Workers in the US
Immigrants from other nations make up a sizeable portion of the forced (enslaved) labor victims in the United States. Most exploited victims suffer because they don’t understand or speak English, nor do they know their rights or the laws.
They decide to immigrate to the United States in the expectation of finding more chances and a better life, putting complete faith in their traffickers, like Jayson, only to find themselves trapped in an unstoppable circle of coercion.
Most immigrants caught in the forced labor trafficking chains come to the United States via student or work (H2A) visa programs. This is where the traffickers exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities, especially when their immigrants are entirely dependent on the exploiters for their basic needs.
The Unfair Power Imbalance
According to recent estimates by State Department, 14,500 to 17,500 immigrants are trafficked into the US every year. But experts believe that the real numbers are much higher since the data on human trafficking are immensely challenging to collect.
As per the Human Rights Center at the University of California, about 10,000 forced laborers are working as slave workers in the US at any given time.
Plus, for the victims who want to take the legal route, the process is complex, arduous, and lengthy. Moreover, the majority of cases are often left unresolved. A recent report by ABC news shows how even skilled immigrant workers suffer from immigrant exploitation and workplace sexual harassment.
All this makes one thing very clear: Immigrant workers are abused, and even after 150 years of slavery abolition, the US is still struggling to eradicate modern slavery.
The Call for Better Visa and Immigrant Protection Policies
In a letter to the government, 18 grassroots legal centers from all over the nation demand essential legislative reforms, such as criminalizing wage theft, enabling migrant workers to take legal action against exploitative employers, and widening the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to every worker, including those with temporary work visas.
But, still, the requests for more robust regulation to prevent the exploitation of immigrants are yet to be addressed.
The US and Israel are Weaponizing Iran Protests
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently blamed the US and Israel for the ongoing widespread protests in Iran. He said that the riots had been “engineered” by Iran’s arch-enemies and their allies.
The statement came after Israel and the US governments lent their support to the protests.
The US government said that it was “appalled” by the violent response to the protests. President Joe Biden expressed grave concern about reports of the “intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protesters”. According to him, those protesters were calling for “just and universal principles”. He added that the US “stands with Iranian women” who were “inspiring the world with their bravery”. The US also hit Iran with more sanctions. Iran’s interior and communications ministers and several law enforcement leaders were targeted for sanctions.
Also Read: Israel and U.S. fanning flames of Fitna between Iran and Arabs
Israel has been running a propaganda campaign on its official social media handles. The official handles shared several videos showing Israeli women standing up with Iranian women.
Widespread protests in Iran were provoked after the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. The protests are led by women. Some men are also standing up to the women and their demands.
The supreme leader’s statement has the backing of history. Those who are unaware of Iran’s history, the US intervention in countries like Afghanistan to save women and Israel’s purple-washing in Palestine, might dismiss Ayatollah’s statement. They might think that the Ayatollah is looking for a reason to suppress protests and justify the violent repression.
However, there is more truth to the statement than meets the eye.
Iran’s Experience with the US and Israel
When we read about Iran’s recent history, for some reason it always starts with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. However, this author believes that Iran’s recent history should always begin from 1953.
In 1953, the United States and Britain launched a joint operation through the CIA and MI6 to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had tried to nationalize oil companies and reclaim Iran’s oil from the British.
Further, one year after the Islamic Revolution, a CIA agent sneaked into Iran and took out six American diplomats who were staying in the Canadian embassy after the hostage crisis.
There have also been recent operations by Israel inside Iran. Israel’s Mossad assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020. Mossad carried out the assassination using A. I. and remote control. Additionally, Mossad has killed 5 and wounded one Iranian nuclear scientist in several attacks since Iran began trying to acquire a nuclear bomb.
Also Read: Is Iran really the enemy?
Weaponizing Feminist Movements
The West and Israel claim to stand up for women’s rights around the world. However, they have done more damage to these movements than anyone else by weaponizing the feminist movements.
One of the reasons given by the US to invade Afghanistan was to save the women of Afghanistan. The then-First Lady Laura Bush delivered a speech in 2001 in which she justified the invasion of Afghanistan to protect the women of Afghanistan from the brutal oppression of women.
Israel has also co-opted feminist struggles in order to justify the Zionist movement. It claims to rescue Palestinian women from the evil men of Palestine. It grabs the gender equality slogan to divert attention from its human rights abuses in Palestine.
However, when it comes to women like Shireen Abu Akleh whom Israel kills for doing their duty, Israel conveniently parts its way with feminism.
Right now, what we are seeing in Iran is no different from Afghanistan or Palestine. Israel’s government and its women are standing with women because they hate Iran. They do not care about Iran’s women. It is just that they want Iran to perish from the earth.
Similarly, the US does not care about women’s struggle in Iran. The US does not allow its female citizens the right to choose when it comes to abortion.
It is also interesting that neither the US nor Israel stands up for the feminist activists of Saudi Arabia who are languishing in jails for small acts of defiance. The US never sanctioned Saudi rulers for oppressing women.
Perhaps Israel and the US have this wishful thinking that somehow they could use this uprising to oust the current regime in Iran.
Also Read: Iranian Nuclear Facility Significantly Damaged In A Fire
Iran’s previous president Hassan Rouhani had given more leeway to women in Iran. There was a gradual change happening in Iran. However, Mahsa Amini’s death led to an uprising that has now been hijacked by Iran’s enemies. As a result, Iran seems to consider the current uprising a national security issue.
The West and Israel should leave Muslim women for themselves. They should not be in the job of rescuing Muslim women. It would be more helpful if they do not selectively stand with Muslims of a particular country. They turn feminist movements into national security issues and hence do a disservice to the feminist struggles.
This article deals with only one aspect of the current uprising in Iran. Other aspects have been covered elsewhere.
Read: Death of Mahsa Amini: How Governments are Denying Women’s Right to Choice?
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