Sunday, June 11, 2006

Suicide Watch

Image of Original Painting, "Rummy's Fiesta," Used With Artist Mark Bryan's Permission

The news from Gitmo, in case you missed it having too much fun in the past couple of days, is that 3 prisoners there have succeeded in killing themselves.

This report in the Christian Science Monitor highlights the fact that the military brass still hold the opinion that the inmates are only doing it to make the U.S. look bad, reminiscent of the outburst directed at the UN Committee's report on its investigation into US human rights abuses (see "Riot in Cell Block 4 blog entry of 5/20, below.)

"Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the Guantánamo detention camp, has told reporters that the suicides were a coordinated attempt to spark international outrage against the US.

"'They have no regard for human life. Neither ours nor their own,' he said. "I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us.'

Have you lost your mind, man?

Thankfully, others whose views cannot help but be more sane & humane were included in the article, too.

"Others disagree.

"'I think it is people who have no hope, detained indefinitely, without rights,' says Harold Koh, an international law expert and dean of Yale Law School. 'We're really in the last days of a dying policy,' Mr. Koh says.'This is just another sad sign.'"

"Military officials say there have been 41 unsuccessful suicide attempts by 25 detainees since the detention camp opened in January 2002. On May 18, two detainees were discovered unconscious in their cells after attempting an overdose of an antianxiety medication, according to press reports. A third detainee also attempted an overdose.

"In addition, scores of detainees have undertaken hunger strikes, prompting military officials to force-feed them. Earlier this year, lawyers working with some of the detainees complained that medical personnel at the camp were inserting large tubes into the detainees' noses to facilitate forced feeding. The lawyers said the process was extraordinarily painful and was a form of mistreatment. They said the number of hunger strikers dropped off significantly following use of the tubes.

"Although Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said the detention cells at Guantánamo were reserved only for the 'worst of the worst,' defense lawyers have shown that many of the detainees wound up at Guantánamo by mistake. In other cases, military officials have recharacterized detainees, saying they are no longer considered enemy combatants.

"President Bush has twice suggested his desire that Guantánamo be closed. On Friday, he said he hoped most of the detainees could be sent home. 'We're now in the process of working with countries to repatriate people, but there are some that - if put out on the streets - could create a grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world,' Bush told reporters.

"David Remes, a Washington lawyer who represents 17 Yemenis held at Guantánamo, says the Bush administration has painted itself into a corner.

"'The US would dearly like to repatriate most, if not all, of the prisoners, and it appears the difficulty is in negotiating the repatriation with the Saudi and Yemen governments' Mr. Remes says.

"Remes says President Bush's recent comments on Guantánamo suggest the administration is bracing for a defeat at the Supreme Court. The justices are expected to rule by the end of June whether the president acted within his power in designating military trials for 10 Guantánamo detainees.

"News of the suicides was greeted with skepticism in Saudi Arabia, with the Saudi Human Rights Group calling for an independent investigation into the deaths, according to an Associated Press report.

"'There are no independent monitors at the detention camp, so it is easy to pin the crime on the prisoners, given that it is possible that they were tortured," said Mufleh Al-Qahtani, deputy director of the group. "

You can see why he'd be skeptical, after recent events involving civilians across Iraq. If we have such low regard for the lives of civilians, why would anybody believe claims of suicide--especially since we won't let independent monitors in, & hide some prisoners when we very rarely do.


Anonymous Pat said...

"I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

What type of mind could possibly formulate a statement like that?
I heard this quote on NPR this morning, I couldn't believe my ears.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Only a dog of war, as Shakespeare termed them. EVERY action by an "enemy" is to be interpreted as an assault on righteousness. Never mind that we MAY have imagined enemies where they didn't really exist: they exist now because of our heavy-handed treatment of what MAY have been their legitimate grievances in the first place. But oh well, what do I know of war & the tragic psychology of escalation?

I also found this tidbit from the article instructive: that many detainees were there by mistake, & we've since downgraded the "enemy combatant" designation..


12:26 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

I don't know if you caught this or not, but I am writing a series of articles about a soldier and his ideas before he is deployed.


9:39 AM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

WONDERFUL blog, Donkephant! Great conversations going on there.

Much more like what political-issues discourse SHOULD look like, in a sane society...before it all turned into lunatic shouting matches, a la Rush, Bill, & Ann the she-wolf.

4:57 PM  

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