Free at Last! But…

The pictures of Bilal Hussein that we’ve been waiting for- in an Associated Press feature on Google News.

So all of those who campaigned on his behalf will be celebrating his release after two years of imprisonment without cause by the US in Iraq. But like his mother, who is quoted there as saying “I thank God for Bilal’s release and I hope that all Iraqi detainees will be released” we know that he is only one of many who have been detained without proper cause.

In the same feature, Joel Simon, of the Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the way that the U S Military is increasingly removing journalists from conflict zones and locking them up for prolonged periods before releasing them without bringing charges.

Of course, as the prisons in Iraq and most obviously Guantanamo Bay attest, it isn’t only journalists who get such treatment. The demonstrations in January marked six years of the illegal detention of prisoners at Guantanamo, with some now having been held over three times as long as Bilal. Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan on April 10, 2002 and the CIA took him to be tortured in Morocco for 18 months, then imprisoned him in Afghanistan before he ended up in Guantanamo, where he remains despite a request from the British Government for his release made last August.

Guantanamo demo, London
London demo marks 6 Years of Human Rights abuse at Guatanamo

Of course the USA isn’t the only country abusing human rights, but what makes it stand out is the gap between the rhetoric of defending freedom and the practices of torture, maltreatment and illegal imprisonment used in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ It’s perhaps a continuation of the same hypocrisy and failure of understanding that led to disastrous US foreign policies that took them into Vietnam, supported dictators and corrupt regimes around the world (including for many years Saddam in Iraq and in too many South American countries to list.)

Of course there are many countries with a considerably worse record in terms of human rights in their own territory – China springs immediately to mind – and of course for its activities in Tibet as well as for its abysmal record in China itself. And of course Britain isn’t entirely blameless. In My London Diary I’ve recorded protests about human rights abuse in countries around the world. I sincerely wish there was less need for them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.