Cuba condemns 20 years of US ‘business,’ ‘abuse’ at Guantanamo Bay, UN calls for closure

Cuban officials have condemned the ongoing US military presence on the 20th anniversary of the opening of a controversial detainment facility off the coast of Guantanamo that UN experts and other analysts want to shut down immediately.

The prison was the target of a report published on Monday, the opinion of a group of experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which President Joe Biden’s administration has re-attached last February. Featured voices were unanimous in condemning the facility and demanding its closure.

Experts said, “Despite the overwhelming, repeated and outspoken condemnation of this horrific detention and the operation of the prison complex, along with its associated trial procedures, the United States continues to detain people, many of whom have never been convicted of any crime.” The offense has not been charged.”

He described the site as having “unique notoriety, defined by the systematic use of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against hundreds of men brought to the site and deprived of their most fundamental rights.”

The report was shared on Twitter on Tuesday by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who wrote, “There are already 20 years of reprehensible abuses in the illegally occupied Cuban territory in the Gulf of #Guantanamo by the biggest violators. [human rights] in the world.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla also drew criticism with a photo of the site’s opening on January 11, 2002, with detainees in orange jumpsuits kneeling between barbed wire-wrapped fences as US personnel patrolled among them. Was.

“The US Naval Base at Guantanamo has a 20-year history of humiliation,” Rodriguez wrote. “780 people, including minors, were arbitrarily detained without trial or due process. Some of them are not victims of human rights abuses and abusive treatment.”

“Finish that heinous prison,” he said.

People walk past a guard tower outside the fence of Camp 5 at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on January 26, 2017, six days after then-President Donald Trump took office, and calls for former President Barack Obama to shut down an attempt. make threats. Controversial site. President Joe Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, set out to restart the process of closing the facility, but has yet to complete a year in office.
Thomas Watkins/AFP/Getty Images

The US first took control of Cuba’s territory in Guantanamo Bay as part of the Platt Amendment of 1903, which gave Washington a permanent hand in Havana’s affairs after the Spanish–American War, but repealed the measure in 1934. Given. Relations between the two countries completely collapsed. After the 1959 revolution, which brought Fidel Castro to power, the US military remained in place, despite opposition from the new communist rulers of the island just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

The area became the subject of international notoriety, more than four decades later, in the months following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The administration of then-President George W. Bush ordered the transfer of persons detained by US officials to Guantanamo. The “War on Terror” that will expand around the world includes extravagant presentations to apprehend suspects and transfer them to open captivity without charge or trial.

Just two days after taking office, Obama went on to close the facility within his first year, but the process stalled and remained that way during his two terms. His successor, Donald Trump, reversed Obama’s efforts to shut it down. He also withdrew Obama’s historic detention with Cuba, issuing new sanctions and sanctions on top of a decades-long trade embargo that has strained the island’s trade ties.

Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, criticized Trump’s policy approaches to both Cuba and Guantanamo Bay. But as he approaches the one-year mark of his own presidency, little progress has been made on both issues.

Additionally, a report published last year the new York Times suggested that a new courtroom be built at Guantanamo Bay, which would restrict access to the press, raising concerns that the closure of the site would further delay the process.

Asked about the state of the shutdown on the eve of its 20th anniversary, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby gave reporters few details, but said the process was still on track.

“I would say that the administration is dedicated to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” Kirby said. “Nothing has changed about it. We’re reviewing the way forward there right now, so I won’t go further than that.”

He said the Pentagon continues to work with the National Security Council, the State Department, the Justice Department and other federal government bodies. He said part of the process is to “reduce the population, which is still very small,” noting that “more than three dozen of the roughly 800 detainees were at their peak.”

“So, the small numbers, not surprisingly, are the hardest cases to deal with and decide,” Kirby said. “And so, we’re working our way through it right now.”

Of the remaining detainees, Kirby said that “13 are eligible for transfer,” and that diplomatic processes are “underway to work out the transfer”. [or] repatriate them as appropriate,” while “14 are eligible for a periodic review board” and “10 are in the process of military commissions pending charges or undergoing a trial or pre-trial proceedings, and Two prisoners have been convicted in the army. commission.”

But without any concrete updates, several analysts and activists have spoken out at the two-decade mark of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay site.

“After twenty years of operation, the Guantanamo experiment long ago tarnished the reputation of the United States as a global leader on human rights,” Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First, said in a statement. newsweek, “Furthermore, the military commission and deterrence system in Guantanamo damages national security by undermining efforts to cooperate with allies on global counter-terrorism operations and feeding into terrorist groups’ propaganda and recruitment efforts.”

Breen, a former US Army officer who previously served as head of the Truman Project and served in the Office of the White House Council, estimated the annual cost of Guantanamo Bay to be $540 million, or more than $13 million per remaining detainee. guessed.

“Guantanamo has proven itself to be a costly ethical and strategic failure; after two disastrous and damaging decades, it must finally be shut down,” Breen said.

A 13-stage set of recommendations to end the facility’s two-decade rule was presented Tuesday by a working group from the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, a participant in the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania . Nine steps urge executive action.

“The arrival of the first detainees at Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, marked the beginning of one of the darkest and most disgusting chapters in American history,” Claire Finkelstein, co-chair of the working group, said in a statement. newsweek,

“Yet 20 years and nearly eight billion dollars later, we still have not achieved justice for the victims of 9/11,” she said, “and we have tarnished the nation’s moral authority and distorted the rule of law.” has done.”

Fellow co-chair Harvey Rishikoff said that “many good and dedicated legal authorities have tried to make GTMO work.”

“After 20 years, it is time to realize that a new approach is needed,” he said. “Hopefully, our recommendations will kick-start this policy conversation.”

Another expert said that the continued existence of the prison makes a statement.

“The presence of the prison in Guantanamo really reflects the hypocrisy of the entire enterprise known as the Global War on Terrorism,” said Phyllis Benis, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ New Internationalism Project. newsweek,

“It was supposed to be about ‘justice,’ but it was not accompanied by the attack on Afghanistan, clearly not with the attack on Iraq, and clearly with the establishment of CIA Black Sites or Permanent Black Sites around the world.” Wasn’t with Guantanamo Bay,” Benis said.

“It was clearly about vengeance and not justice at its core,” she said, “and it had nothing to do with justice. It was about power, about oil, about military bases.” , was about expanding US military capability.”

The lack of progress on Guantanamo Bay came despite Biden’s stated resolve to end the “forever wars”, which included a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and a US-led intervention shortly before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The exit came as part of a deal launched by Trump, who also campaigned against America’s involvement in endless conflicts.

Although Biden openly disagreed with Trump on most key foreign policy points during the presidential campaign, as president he has continued to bolster Trump’s sanctions against Cuba and Iran as well as Guantanamo Bay’s operations.

This has led some experts to note the similarity of approach in the foreign policies of both men.

Bennis said Biden has let Trump’s policies remain in place in several key areas, and “thus, after a year in office, those are his policies.”

“It doesn’t matter whether he agrees or not, as long as he lets it be, it’s his policy,” she said. “Continuing the questioning, the lack of trials, the dire circumstances, whether or not there is apparent torture still going on at Gitmo – of course we don’t have enough evidence to say with certainty that it isn’t, we don’t know – all This is Biden’s policy, and time constraints cannot be an excuse for a US president.”

in a statement sent to newsweekLt. Col. Kenneth L. Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman, acknowledged there had been wrongdoing by US personnel, but said all allegations would be investigated and all violators held accountable.

“In all locations, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment for all US personnel is prohibited,” Hoffman said. “We believe the law has been violated by US personnel in the past.”

“However, all allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated,” he said, “and those who fail to comply with these treatment standards will and will be held accountable.”

guantanamo, bay, protest, white house, dc
Demonstrators gather during a protest calling for the closure of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in front of the White House in Washington DC on January 11. Two decades after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay, a group of UN experts urged Washington to finally shut down the site of “incredible human rights violations”.
Nicolas Chem / AFP / Getty Images