20 years after Guantanamo: Legacy of ‘injustice’ and ‘abuse’ | Human Rights News

Washington, D.C.– On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China Guantanamo Bay, advocates say, U.S. military detention centers represent two decades of injustice — and must close.

Established in 2002 at the U.S. military base in Cuba administrative Under President George W. Bush, prisons were designed to deny detainees the constitutional rights they would have on U.S. soil in the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

Its location — an American-owned enclave on a Caribbean island — confounds the applicability of international law and the rules of war to the treatment of prisoners. And over the years, prison earned a reputation for abuse and injustice outside the rule of law.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to close the facility, but reports say that project A new secret court in Guantanamo has fueled fears that the government may not be serious about shutting it down. In the past year, there has been only one transfer out of prison.

The facility that once held nearly 800 detainees now holds 39 prisoners, 13 of whom have been cleared for transfer. Most were held without formal charges.

Here, Al Jazeera talks to human and civil rights advocates about Guantanamo’s legacy:

Activists in orange prison jumpsuits hold signs in protest next to American flagActivists demonstrate at the Guantanamo Bay internment camp near the White House on January 11, 2020 in Washington, DC [File: Mike Theiler/Reuters]

Mansoor Adayfi, ex-prisoner: “20 years of injustice, torture, abuse”

mansour adefi When he said Guantanamo represented “20 years of injustice, torture, abuse, lawlessness and oppression,” he was speaking from personal experience.

Adefi spent more than 14 years in prison, where he said he was tortured, humiliated and mistreated. Adayfi, a Yemeni, was doing research in Afghanistan at the age of 18 when he was kidnapped by Afghan militants and handed over to the CIA, accusing him of being a much older al Qaeda recruit.

Adefi maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal, which he described as inhumane, and was released to Serbia in 2016, where he continued to advocate for the closure of Guantanamo and to ensure justice for detainees.

“Guantanamo is one of the greatest human rights violations of the 21st century,” Adefi told Al Jazeera in a phone interview last year, releasing a memoir titled “Don’t Forget We Are Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo.” “And it is also [abusive] To the American justice system, to the American people. Guantanamo has done no justice for anyone – not for the victims of 9/11, not for the Americans, not for the detainees. “

from his own experience torture And unlawful detention, Adefi said, the road to justice will begin with the closure of Guantanamo and end the secrecy of the abuses and legal proceedings that take place there.

“Justice means reparation, it means recognition, it means apology,” he said.

ACLU Hina Shamsi: Guantanamo is a ‘symbol of injustice in America’

Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Program at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)war on terror“, calling Guantanamo Bay a “legal, moral and ethical failure”.

“This is a global symbol of American injustice, torture and disregard for the rule of law,” Shamsi told Al Jazeera by email, adding that Biden must be held accountable for his campaign promises collapse Guantanamo.

“Prisoners detained indefinitely without charge must be transferred, starting with those who have been allowed to transfer for years. As 9/11 family members urged, a Biden administration needs to address broken and unconstitutional grievances by seeking a plea deal. Military Commission, this agreement will explain the torture of defendants by our government while providing a degree of transparency and justice, as members of the 9/11 family have urged.”

“If President Biden is serious about upholding human rights, racial equality and justice, he needs to act to eventually shut down Guantanamo.”

Amnesty International Daphne Eviatar: Guantanamo’s legacy is ‘Islamophobia and impunity for torture’

The fact that Guantanamo has been open for 20 years “is a very disturbing legacy in itself,” said Daphne Eviatar, director of the Human Rights Security Program at Amnesty International in the US.

“Until the United States is willing to close the prison, move detainees to a place where their human rights will be respected, and acknowledge and provide compensation for the abuses that occurred at Guantanamo Bay, the legacy of the American prison at Guantanamo Bay will continue to be a blatant human being abuse of rights, racism and Islamophobia and impunity for torture,” Eviatar told Al Jazeera in an email.

Eviatar said the way forward for closing the prison was “clear” and “not particularly difficult” — releasing released detainees, trying those accused of “internationally recognized crimes” in U.S. federal court, and transferring those accused of “internationally recognized crimes” Prisoners not released. Charged to other countries that do not face rights violations.

“There’s no reason why President Biden shouldn’t go down this path,” she said.

Yumna Rizvi, Centre for Victims of Torture: “Hypocrisy and Arrogance”

Yumna Rizvi, a policy analyst at the Center for Victims of Torture, an advocacy group for torture survivors, including Guantanamo detainees, said the prison’s legacy was “dark and unforgettable.”

“Many Muslim men held in prison have suffered unspeakable human rights abuses by the United States and have suffered irreparable damage,” Rizvi told Al Jazeera in an email.

“Guantanamo underscores the hypocrisy and arrogance of the United States, which has deliberately turned its back on the rule of law and created a false legal system with impunity, injustice and disregard for human rights.”

Robert McCaw (CAIR): Prison designed to disenfranchise Muslim suspects

Robert McCaw, director of government affairs for the civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said prisons underscored the anti-Muslim bias of U.S. government policy after 9/11.

“The US government-maintained maximum security prison is located in Guantanamo. It is designed to house only Muslim men who have been acquitted on suspicion of supporting terrorism,” McCaw told Al Jazeera.

“The psychological impact of creating such a prison designed to detain Muslim men indefinitely and deprive them of their rights shows the place of Muslims in the American legal system and the extent to which the government is willing to treat Muslims detained in the United States,” McCaw said. “So, as long as this prison remains, it is not only a stain on our nation’s human rights record, but also a testimony to the disparate treatment of Muslim suspects in the American justice system.”