Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One hundred years of prisoner-of-war 'reform'

Ruhleben Camp was situated on the outskirts of Berlin at the outbreak of the First World War. It was a converted racecourse which housed foreigners in its buildings. Prisoners had some difficulties getting certain products especially food, but it was a civilised and thriving community, which though monitored by sentries gave prisoners a degree of interned freedom and self-respect. There were all kinds of activities like chess-clubs, a theatrical society, a debating society, an orchestra, tennis-club and other sports clubs. They even had their own elections and prison magazine called "In Ruhleben Camp"..

Compare that with Guantanamo Bay, a similar type of internment camp for untried prisoners, a century later and the regression in prisoner rights is diabolical. They have no rights (or very few) and no hope. It is a disgrace to the reputation of the United States. At the beginning of its existence when men and boys were first rendered there the torture was even worse than it is today. But conditions are so severe that those held there even today are on hunger-strike against them. Some are still being detained, and force-fed, a torture in itself, although they have been cleared for release for six years, like Shaker Aamer, the last remaining UK citizen. To them it must seem like they are never going to be released. Nearly 800 men and boys have been held there at one time or another, 8 have died there, and all kinds of accusations have been levelled at the authorities including sexual abuse. To my knowledge there has only been one conviction.

1 comment:

  1. Daily Life in Guantanamo.