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Torture


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From: The Socialist issue 668, 27 April 2011: Fight the cuts: Vote for a socialist alternative

Search site for keywords: Guantanamo - Women - Torture - US - Abortion - Afghanistan

News in brief

Torture camp

The latest tranche of WikiLeaks documents covering prisoners at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reveals what has long been suspected, ie that many of those incarcerated were completely innocent people, not terrorists.

Some 150 people, including farmers, cooks and drivers, were snatched from Afghanistan and Pakistan and handed over to US forces (and in some instances sold to US captors) before being transferred to Guantanamo.

Hundreds more, low level foot soldiers snatched from the battlefields in Afghanistan, were held for years and tortured despite the lack of intelligence obtained by their US captors.

These human rights abuses took place under the watch of US president George W Bush who has refused to even apologise for these outrages. Current president Barack Obama has failed to close down the camp despite his election pledge to do so.

Women's rights attack

Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP behind the '20 reasons for 20 weeks' campaign, is continuing the charge on a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children.

She has proposed two amendments to the government's Health and Social Care Bill. Dorries suggests that women seeking abortion are referred to 'independent' counselling groups rather than those who provide abortions. This clearly opens the door for religious and 'pro-life' groups to pressure vulnerable women to change their minds.

She also calls for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to no longer be the body that draws up clinical guidelines for abortion (having previously criticised it for publishing studies showing that abortions are medically safe and that the impact on mental health is likely to be minimal).

Both amendments patronisingly assume that women need 'moral guidance' because they are unable to make their own decisions based on medical fact alone. The women's and trade union movements need to ensure these amendments are defeated and step up the campaign to defend and extend a woman's right to choose.

Rough sleepers

Because of government spending cuts, Nottinghamshire probation service is giving out tents to ex-offenders to live in. Last year five people were given tents and sleeping bags because no hostel accommodation could be found. This scandal resulted from spending cuts causing the Nottinghamshire-based Framework Housing Association to close two hostels this year.

Research by Homeless Link revealed that there were 1,169 fewer bed spaces available for homeless people in 2010 compared to 2009.

Royal despots

Being subject to the nauseating spectacle of a royal wedding costing millions, at a time when our services are being cut to the bone, is bad enough, but the establishment has heaped further indignity onto the public by inviting representatives of various bloody dictatorships including Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Bahrain to attend this royal knees-up.

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