Eric Fottorino | Guantanamo
By Eric Fottorino
Tuesday 04 November 2003
Guantanamo? And why Guantanamo? What s new under the sun at Guantanamo? Precisely, nothing. On the Guantanamo Bay American base hired from Cuba ages ago, absolutely nothing is happening.
Oh yes, two Miami cops found sanctuary there after neutralizing a dangerous narco-trafficker.
But that s in Bad Boys II, Michael Bay s film that just came out, which Thomas Sotinel , writing in the Culture pages of this newspaper, advised potential viewers to see only after taking two aspirin beforehand as a precaution against migraine and nausea . (Le Monde, October 15).
Migraines and nausea, these terms are also appropriate to realizing the true situation at Guantanamo. More than eighteen months now "enemy combatants , the expression used by their jailers, 660 prisoners from 42 countries, including France, have been languishing on this American base.
Detained in secret, they know nothing of what s in store for them. They aren t allowed to speak to a lawyer. They have no contact with their families. They don t know what they are charged with, what sentences they incur. Whether they ll be judged, or when. The prisoner-of-war status convered by the Geneva Convention is denied them.
Are we in Cuba? Yes, but in an American principality, all the way to the east of the island, in the part where its geography makes Cuba look like a hammerhead shark. Go get a map if you think this is some morning delirium. So? We agree then, Guantanamo is in the shark s maw.
In Cuba, we said. Or rather in a rental concession made by a dictatorship to what was believed to be the greatest democracy on earth, with freedom of opinion and respect for human rights. All those things one thinks are superfluous when one isn t Cuban. Or immured at Guantanamo.
From there imagine that it s because of Cuba s liberty-killing air that the prisoners are held body and soul outside the law. Remember having once read Montesquieu s powerful and lovely reflections on the link between the climate and the nature of the existing power.
However, the author of The Spirit of the Laws argues just the opposite, that the hotter the sun shines, the more lax are political and social norms.
In Guantanamo, it s hot and tense. Very tense, even. The Australian and British governments have publicly protested the violations of international law perpetrated on the naval base against these enemies , who, for the most part, were captured in Afghanistan.
An Australian lawyer has spoken of torture endured by two of his countrymen who were forced to stand until exhaustion holding their arms in a cross. Ridiculous, responded George Bush, who knows what that word means.
Lawyers for the four French detainees have referred the case to the Quai d'Orsay*. They ve been understood to have been answered that Paris was acting on this matter under the logic of discretion . One of the lawyers wonders whether this logic of discretion wouldn t be a pretext or alibi for impotence. Isn t he right?
* the offices of the Foreign Affairs Minister in Paris (t.n.)
Translation: Truthout French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher
Former Guantanamo Inmate Sues U.S.
By Zaffar Abbas
Wednesday 05 November 2003
A man who was imprisoned by the US military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is suing the Pakistani and US governments for damages worth over $10m.
Pakistani cleric Mohammed Sagheer was seized by US troops fighting in Afghanistan in 2001.
He spent roughly a year with other suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban operatives in the US military prison.
His lawyers say he is suing for the mental and physical torture he endured at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay.
'Treated like an animal'
Mr Sagheer filed his suit in an Islamabad court on Tuesday.
Lawyers acting for him said the case could be heard in a Pakistani court because Pakistan's interior ministry is one of the defendants.
In the first case of its kind, Mr Sagheer described his arrest by American authorities as illegal and his treatment at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay as extremely inhuman.
He says he was kept for more than a year in a prison cell that was like a cage meant for animals.
During this period he says he was treated in the worst possible manner and was repeatedly interrogated about his links to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Despite insisting that he no ties to the Islamic militant group, Mr Sagheer says he was punished by the authorities for what they saw as his lack of co-operation.
After being released by the Americans, Mr Sagheer says he was sent back to Pakistan, where he spent a few more days in detention.
The court has decided to hold a preliminary hearing for the case in the third week of December.
Jump to TO Features for Thursday 6 November 2003
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