Guantanamo suicides

June 13th, 2006 by amy

Three men committed suicide at Guantanamo Bay earlier this week.

There have been at least 40 officially acknowledged suicide attempts at the camp. Out of the 759 people detained since 2002, approximately 465 people are still being held. Some have been imprisoned there for more than four years and many have had no access to legal counsel or their families. Only 10 have been charged with any offense. In January 2004, the US released three children between 13 and 15 years old.

There have been widespread reports of abuse from prisoners and the Red Cross cited activities it said were “tantamount to torture.” According to Wikipedia ‘A report based on data supplied by the Defense Department showed that 86% of the prisoners were handed over by Afghan and other local bounty-hunters rather than as the result of any American investigation or collection of intelligence. It is alleged that because the bounty-hunters were compensated per-capita, they detained innocent civilians in order to maximize their profits.’

The BBC stated that one of the men who committed suicide was due to be freed but had not been informed.

The EU and UN, amongst many others, have called for the closing of Guantanamo.

Ali Abdullah Ahmed, was 28, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi was 30 years old. Yassar Talal al-Zahrani was 21 years old.

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
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2 Responses to “Guantanamo suicides”

  1. chaals Says:

    Sigh.

    Someone from the hierarchy responsible said something like “this is just fighting by another means” – as though it is OK to keep people in totally extra-legal detention, but not OK for them to attempt to do anything about it.

    When people are driven to suicide as a fightng style, we seem to be a bit schizophrenic in our responses. People have won a number of Victoria Crosses for doing so on behalf of the British Commonwealth. But people who do it for causes we don’t like are generally terrorists.

    It is a reasonable argument that people who are attacking civilians are not in the same class as people rescuing wounded soldiers on a battlefield, or taking on some extremely dangerous mission to help others achieve a military objective.

    It is also true that firebombing cities, breaking dams open onto villages, and the like are things for which people have been praised – indeed, flying daylight bombing missions over Germany in WW2 took extreme courage, but the targets were still often civilians.

    There are sadly a lot of bad things that happen. People killing themselves is generally a desperate response to a desperately bad situation.

    If we want to promote society that values the rule of law and the will of the people above greed and machtpolitik, we should probably work out how to do it by means that don’t rely on greed and machtpolitik. Otherwise perhaps we should simply stop playing charades.

  2. amy Says:

    The camp commander, Rear Adm Harris, called the suicides “an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us”. I didn’t initially cite this or other official statements which seemed to diminish or ‘spin’ the acts as born of anything other than profound despair, though it was those statements that angered me and spurred me to write. In the end, I didn’t feel that giving those kind of quotes space was worth it, beyond showing a stunning callousness, an unwillingness to acknowledge any culpability and an attempt to manipulate language in an effort to obscure the reality of something (distressing trends I see far too often in politics these days).

    Listing the names, who they were beyond ‘suicides’ (as though their act became their singular description) was the important bit for me.

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