The Object of Torture is Torture:10 years of Guantanamo Bay

Dominic Turner

Image © U.S. Army

In the South-Eastern periphery of Cuba lies the province of Bahía de Guantánamo. Unlike the rest of the Caribbean island, its vegetation does not grow green and abundant. If only the signs of American imperialism were limited to the Cuban mainland’s only McDonalds and Starbucks. If only the crimes perpetrated in this naval base concerned the validity of the United States’ occupying lease, obtained under the threat of force.

Ten years ago, Guantanamo Bay received its first detainees and began an unending tale of human suffering and degradation for children as young as 13 and men as old as 98. Eye witness accounts detail a nightmarish existence of systematic beatings, torture, and humiliating treatment. But its not just the physical abuse that destroys the victims of Guantanamo. Its in every spiteful action, in every callous deed, the breaking up of families by denying prisoners even the right to exchange letters. By desecrating copies of the Quran and imposing unimaginable periods of solitary confinement.

When detainees rose up against their merciless oppressors, the ’payback’ was unthinkable brutality. One such man, who protested against the humiliation of having to routinely march without trousers, is Omar Deghayes. Almost three years ago Omar came to speak in an event organised by Cardiff’s ‘Stop The War Coalition.’ His account of the cruelty he suffered at the hands of American imperialism is almost too horrific for me to put in writing. He was left permanently blind in his right eye, after a guard tried to gouge it out. A deep scar runs across his forefinger after being slammed in a steel door. His nose, crooked from being punched repeatedly in the face by guards. What I saw was a man tortured, not just by physical beatings, but by the psychological legacy of six years of unspeakable misery. Omar was never brought to trial and never saw the charges against him. Omar Deghayes was innocent and, like 600 of the 779 detainees of Guantanamo Bay since January 11th 2002, was never charged and finally released only after serving indefinite detention in hell. In ten years of Guantanamo only 6 military trials have ever been instigated to its pariah population. If you want to see the garbs of fascism, you need look no further than the infamous orange jumpsuit worn by every detainee.

Coincidentally, it almost three years to the day since Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo within the year. Even George W. Bush expressed hope in closing Guantanamo and in fact released nearly 9 times the amount of prisoners that Obama has. Obama has, in characteristic fashion, broken his promise. Worse still, despite ‘severe reservations,‘ he has signed the National Defence Authorization Act into law which will codify the indefinite detention of US citizens at the authorisation of the President. What the USA has exported abroad is coming to a state near them.

It does not matter if the war is not real, or if it is.
Victory is not possible.
The war is not meant to be won.
It is meant to be continuous.

George Orwell 1984.


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