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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

The Guantanamo File is a record of shame: of torture, illegal detention, violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Human Rights Charter that the US has practiced and condoned on foreign soil where such infractions do not attract the scrutiny of American domestic law

Infamous and Unflattering

The so-called Guantanamo File of 700 diplomatic papers dated between 2002 and 2009 published by WikiLeaks makes grim reading.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, 2 May, 2011

The so-called Guantanamo File of 700 diplomatic papers dated between 2002 and 2009 published by WikiLeaks makes grim reading. The other leaked papers relate to American political and diplomatic assessments of men, nations, opportunities. The Guantanamo File, however, is a record of shame: of torture, illegal detention, violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Human Rights Charter that the US has practiced and condoned on foreign soil where such infractions do not attract American domestic law, which would not tolerate such vicious processes. Hence also the wretched story of “renditions”, when those suspected to be inimical to US interests were sent to countries where un-American practices would not attract legal consequences or which were prepared to assist for a consideration.

A dragnet was used to trawl suspects with al Qaeda or other terrorist links post-9/11. Once in, there was no simple out. Proven innocence itself sometimes became a problem as there was often no easy way to return these “suspects” to liberty. There were protests at home and abroad but these were muffled by the louder and more insistent refrain that such measures were required for US homeland security. Many of those incarcerated suffered mental and psychological breakdowns and others later became terrorists in search of vengeance against the US.

Despite internal “reviews” and international protests, the Guantanamo “facility” survives. Some 600 prisoners have been transferred to other countries and still others released after so-called rehabilitation and supervision. Yet, despite Obama’s pledge to shut down the place, 172 detainees remain incarcerated in that hell-hole. Among those released are a Sudanese al Jazeera cameraman who was interrogated about this network’s training programme, equipment and news gathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

According to a Guardian of London analyst, the argument seemed to be “that it was necessary for democratic states to excuse themselves from the rule of law in order to save it”! This sounds like the infamous US response in Vietnam that a certain village had to be destroyed in order to save it! In officially protesting the publication of documents “illegally obtained” by WikiLeaks, the US administration blandly seeks to hide the very illegality and inhumanity of the entire Guantanamo prison operation.

Nor is this the first time. We heard the same story of macho illegality in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia (napalm bombs against civilians, massive defoliation and unexploded ordnance that continues to take a grim toll of life and limb). In Iraq, the lying, deception and brazenness were singularly blatant. Then Afghanistan, where the US encouraged the mujahadeen, the “good Muslim”, to wage jihad against the atheist Evil Empire and financed Pakistan to officer, train, direct, mentor and protect the Taliban – a monster that is now devouring that country, which is being bombed by American drones with considerable “collateral damage” as are Afghan civilians in a messy war that is unlikely to be won.

And what about little Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT), where the US, in partnership with the imperial overlord, the UK, expelled several thousand native islanders from their homeland decades back to vest the UF Air Force with the untrammeled right to operate strategic missions from out of there. The latest argument is that these Islands, minus the Islanders, have gradually retuned to their pristine state and constitute an ecological treasure trove that it would be a pity to lose!! The sheer inhumanity of it all!

And now Libya, where an ex-Guantanamo prisoner is among the “rebels” fighting Gaddafi with NATO assistance. The Security Council resolved, with India, China. Russia and Brazil abstaining, to permit UN intervention to declare no-fly zones and impose sanctions to compel Gaddafi to desist from targeting civilians demonstrating against his regime. Britain and France are in the lead here with US support in what has become a NATO operation that seems scarcely, if at all, accountable to the UN. Here is another case of the UN mantle being spread over a largely Western operation to serve what increasingly look like Western interests in which oil, located in the eastern provinces now largely controlled by the Libyan rebels, is no doubt a factor.

The Libyan war is not going the intended way. Gaddafi has shown that he is no push over, given the limitations of air and sea power. Now efforts are under way to eliminate him and secure a regime change. Hence the bombing of one of his palaces in central Tripoli, a repeat action that has evoked strong backing from the US Senate. There were 45 civilian casualties reported on this occasion. And so it goes. The goal posts are shifting under the cover, as always, of mounting humbug.

Even as this drama unfolds, Saudi forces have quietly entered Bahrain to prop up the minority Sunni monarchy against his restive Shia subjects who feel they are second-class citizens. Pakistani Sunni mercenaries and military are reinforcing all the threatened Arab monarchies. Iran is disturbed and a new Sunni-Shia confrontation could be in the making.

And now - no secret this – comes a WikiLeak paper that shows that the US officially categorises Pakistan’s ISI as a terrorist outfit and that Guantanamo Bay officials were so notified for purposes of interrogation. And this is America’s close frontline ally whom they denounce periodically – Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen – and immediately thereafter offer yet another generous dollop of military aid. What is one to make of this bizarre love-hate tango that has gone on for decades, with “collateral damage” to India, which has been the prime target of much of the military aid and fight-the-Taliban charade.

The Americans need to do much better. The US is not inappropriately called a Great Society but a Dangerous State.

Nearer home, after the Supreme Court declared khap panchayats illegal and barbaric in their enthusiasm for “honour killings” the khaps have moved a review petition. These feudal relics and odious customs like the “two tumbler system” of caste oppression must be firmly stamped out.

In another seminal ruling in the Binayak Sen case, the Supreme Court has laughed away the charge of “sedition” levelled against him and for which Arundhatti Roy and Ahmed Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat are still being arraigned. It is time to move into the 21st century.

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