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From: The Socialist issue 238, 25 January 2002: New Labour is Bad for Your Health

Search site for keywords: George Bush - Guantanamo - Human rights - Terrorist - War - US - Tony Blair

Bush's Human Rights Hypocrisy

WHAT HYPOCRISY! Bush and Blair have tried to justify more than 100 days of bombing the life out of Afghanistan as a war for 'freedom' and 'civilised values'. But what kind of civilised values condone the degradation and torture of prisoners of war who are suspects but have not been charged with any crime?

US defence secretary Rumsfeld appears to have appointed himself judge, jury and possibly executioner, branding the prisoners at Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as "dangerous terrorists" and "the hardest of the hardcore".

"I do not feel the slightest concern over their treatment" he declared, and "not the slightest interest" in the camp's conditions.

The prisoners are manacled, subject to total sensory deprivation, denied basic human rights and yet Tony Blair is "relaxed" about their treatment. Is it any wonder when, according to the Home Office's own medical experts, in Belmarsh high security prison terrorist suspects convicted of no offence are being held in barbaric conditions.

Gareth Peirce, solicitor for some of the detainees said: "these men are being buried alive in concrete coffins and have been told the legislation provides for their detention for life without trial".

The Socialist Party condemned the 11 September attacks and is opposed to terrorist methods. However we explained that repressive 'anti-terrorist' legislation, rushed through in the wake of these attacks in both the US and Britain, would not succeed in combating terrorism and would be used against innocent people.

Every time that suspects have been interned, in Northern Ireland for example and during the Gulf War, innocent people have been incarcerated. This kind of repression, as the centre pages in this week's Socialist on Bloody Sunday explain, fuels anger and resentment and can itself become a recruitment tool for further terrorist attacks.

Some politicians are aware of this and the treatment of prisoners from the Afghan war is creating tensions within the 'coalition against terrorism', especially between Britain and the US.

As Human Rights Watch (HRW) explains in a recent report. Dictators "need do nothing more than photocopy" repressive measures introduced by Bush. These include suspects being tried in a military court with no right to see the evidence against them, no presumption of innocence until proven guilty and no right of appeal. If convicted, suspects could face execution.

Russia and China have both used US anti-terrorist rhetoric to attack separatist movements in their own countries. Sharon in Israel has referred to Yasser Arafat as "our bin Laden". Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe has justified cracking down on political opponents by branding them as "terrorists".

Authoritarian and repressive measures introduced in countries such as Egypt and Uzbekistan could, HRW argue, fuel rather than defeat terrorism. "As the option of peaceful political changes is closed off, the voices of non-violent dissent are frequently upstaged by violent opposition."

In Britain some MPs and media commentators have tried to associate anti-globalisation protesters with terrorists. In the future such repressive legislation could be used against anyone who tries to oppose capitalism and its effects through mass movements.

We should therefore continue to oppose all abuses of democratic and human rights.







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