The US’s decision to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay detainees in connection with 9/11 is a crime against the very idea of justice.
The six will face a tribunal where military personnel will act as judges. This won’t be a “fair trial” – it will be a show trial, using evidence obtained through torture to send the men to their deaths.
Civil liberties campaigners in Britain have denounced the decision – and warned that the British and Spanish governments are also complicit with human rights violations associated with the “war on terror”.
Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, who spent three years in US custody, highlighted the US’s routine use of torture by drowning, known as “waterboarding”.
He told Socialist Worker, “Five of the six people they’ve charged were brought into Guantanamo only last year. They just materialised from secret locations whose existence is denied by the US government.
“The US military accepts that it uses waterboarding, but claims this isn’t torture – despite the fact that when the technique was used during the Spanish Inquisition it was called ‘torture with water’. They’re denying it’s torture in order to pretend they have valid confessions.”
Moazzam notes that the announcement of the charges against the men comes at a time when campaigning against the torture camp is reaching a peak.
“We’re in a period where the whole nature of Guantanamo is being questioned by everyone from former president Jimmy Carter to the US supreme court.
“They’re in a political quagmire, and there’s pressure to shut it down because there’s too much heat. These charges are intended as some kind of ‘legacy’ for George Bush – he wants to say, ‘We got them in the end’.”
On Thursday of this week two British residents who were recently released from Guantanamo – Omar Deghayes and Jamil el-Banna – will appear before a magistrates court for an extradition hearing to Spain.
“Throughout the time these men were in Guantanamo Bay they were never designated for trial,” said Moazzam.
“Now the moment they are reunited with their families, they could be sent off to Spain. Once they are in Spain they could be charged with something that it’s much easier to get a conviction for, or even shipped off to another torture camp in Libya or Jordan.”
Jackie Chase from the Save Omar campaign told Socialist Worker, “Omar and Jamil have been wrongfully detained, obscenely tortured and treated despicably for over five years by the US at Guantanamo and other secret prisons.
“Omar has many medical issues, including an eye blinded by the guards at Guantanamo. It’s time to leave these men alone and let them return to some semblance of a normal life.”
Demonstrate in support of Omar Deghayes and Jamil el-Banna. Assemble 10am, Thursday 14 February, Westminster Magistrates Court, Horseferry Road, London. For more on the campaign against Guantanamo Bay go to » www.reprieve.org.uk and » www.save-omar.org.uk