Monday, June 02, 2008

US Prison Ships

The Guardian reports that the US "is operating floating prisons to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees."

The report says that:

"Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped."

Reprieve says that the US may be operating as many as 17 ships. 15 of these ships operate in and around the seized British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The USS Ashland was loacated off the coast of Somalia in early 2007. Kenyan and Ethiopian authorities worked with the US to detain and interrogate so called terror suspects.

It is said that 100 of these suspects have been made to "disappear" to prisons in east Africa and, of course, Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve's legal director, Clive Stafford Smith, says in the Guardian report:

"They (US) choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them."

Yeah that is right broer! The US admits to keeping "26 000 people without trial in secret prisons."

These ships are floating "black sites" and are used in the US's extraordinary rendition program.

I have written here of he South African government working along with the US and British governments to extraordinarily render a Pakistani, Khalid Rashid, from South Africa.

Syria, Jordan, Morocco, and Egypt, have done the same. There are also allegations that those extraordinarily rendered have been tortured in secret prisons.

I do not think there are "black sites" in South Africa but the Guardian says they may exist in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland and Romania.

These are indeed treacherous times for freedom and justice. The reach of the US is astounding and its critics are not safe anywhere.

Still, it amazes me just how these kinds of attacks on human dignity, and the principle of the rule of law, is absent in current US debates.

Does the average American even know that these ships and "black sites" exist? Do they even care?

The allegations in the Reprieve report are not new. In June 2005 the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism raised the "very, very serious" allegations of prison ships in the Indian Ocean.

The US did not deny the allegations then, and they are not doing so now.

And the issue has not even caused a stir among the citizenry. I mean broer, did anyone ask the unholy trinity of Obama, Clinton, and McCain, to tell the American people what they would do about these inhumane floating prisons?

Ummmmm, no. Why would they? Bush and Cheney lied about Irag and they are still in office. Business as usual, well except that is costs a hell of a lot to be selfish in these expensive gas days.

I am not convinced that major change can come from inside the US. The average citizen there is stupified by the motions of capitalism and running in-place within the empire.

How else could one explain the belief that Obama is the lesser of evils over Hillary and McCain? And yet he is exactly the same kind of myopic apologist who, like Bush, does not have the conviction or vision to alter the course of America's unravelling.

Onward!

Image Credit

2 comments:

Dade said...

Wow! This is the first I've heard of ships being used as prisons. But I'm not surprised, given this administration's penchant for "creative thinking" when it comes to finding ways to torture people and abuse their rights.

Thanks, Ridwan. Your blog is always insightful and relevant.

Ridwan said...

Thanks kindly Dade. Yeah these prison ships are a nightmare that is too real for sure.

Peace to you,
Ridwan