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'US prisons, crime against humanity'
Tue, 26 Apr 2011 07:21:47 GMT
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An estimated 3,000 people are held and tortured in secret rendition prisons around the world by the US war apparatus of which 95% are reportedly innocent.

Press TV talks with Sara Flounders, Co-Director of the International Action Center from New York who provides insight on the relationship between these prisons and the US-imposed wars in the Middle East.

Press TV: Donald Rumsfeld in a public announcement some years ago said, “Until the conflict is over, even if they're innocent, we're going to keep them in Guantanamo Bay.” Looking at the question of the rights of the detained and the courts, there are some serious differences. Maybe you can share some light between the military court and the normal US law? Should the ones detained wrongfully be tried in a civilian court?

Sara Flounders: It's important to recognize that Guantanamo is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of secretly held prisons; secret rendition; extraordinary rendition -- what are described as black sites all over the world: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Poland, and Romania. You could go on and on over the number of people that the US has held and has tortured in secret prisons.

Guantanamo is the only prison where there has been an accounting, at least numerically, where we know of the terrible torture, the conditions under which were held and the overwhelming number of them for whom there was no evidence -- as a matter of fact there is every evidence of their total innocence -- people who were picked up who were shepherds, who were herders; there were young teenagers even who were held in Guantanamo. It's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the US describes as its war on terror.

It's also the tip of the iceberg in terms of the US prison system where more than two million people are held in prison and by the US' own accounting, 30,000 of them are held in total complete isolation -- that's torture -- solitary confinement, they don't hear a human voice. These controlled management units, largely Muslim prisoners, are held in these units.

When there was a world outcry on the conditions and the torture of Bradley Manning the US response was 'it wasn't out of the ordinary'. That was usual prison conditions in the US. So it's important what's exposed in Guantanamo, but we should know that Guantanamo is just an example of the secret prisons and prisons within the US. And all of them are a crime against humanity.

Press TV: What can be done? There is evidence piled on top of evidence and it keeps coming. There are two documents from Guantanamo officials that say they were aware that they had innocent men in captivity and they even put that in writing in the prison files. Isn't it time that some of these officials be questioned or prosecuted? How can these be put forward in the US to make them accountable?

Sara Flounders: In all honesty there won't be any justice on any of this until those US politicians who initiated these wars; that have laid waste to Afghanistan and to Iraq and imprisoned and destroyed so many lives -- these are the ones who should be on trial as war criminals and that is really the truth of it.

Those who are held who are known to be innocent, and the numbers are in the thousands. If you look at the figures they feel they have evidence of some charges of about 157 people and that's out of more than 3,000 that they acknowledge that they have held in secret prisons and in Guantanamo. So 95% of these people they had almost no evidence on.

That is a crime. The entire imprisonment of people as an outgrowth of the wars that the US is engaging in Afghanistan into Pakistan, in Iraq, now into Libya throughout the region and it's not only prisons, it's the use of secret drone attacks that swoop down on unsuspecting civilians in Somalia, in Sudan, in Yemen, country after country.

So those who are held without any evidence whatsoever of course should be released, but the entire prison network should be shut down along with the wars that gave lives to this. Without shutting down the wars themselves, which is a crime against the people of a whole region, there is no end to the prisons.

And this is something that President Obama found. He promised in campaign after campaign during his election run that he would close Guantanamo. He issued an executive order announcing that he would close Guantanamo and just like the wars that he promised he would end, it has continued. It's all broken promises because it's part of a system of war.

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