The Guardian 31 May, 2006

Illegal twice over

A collective suicide attempt by prisoners at the Guantánamo naval base was reported by the authorities of that prison, located on Cuban territory illegally occupied by the United States. There, 460 individuals of various nationalities are still being held without any evidence against them and with no legal rights.

Official records show that there have been 41 suicide attempts since the prison opened in January 2002. Released prisoners say that due to a lack of appropriate instruments, some detainees have tried to kill themselves by biting their own veins, an act considered extremely desperate.

On this most recent occasion, several prisoners using improvised means tried to protect those who prefer to abandon this world instead of continue undergoing the humiliations and abuse to which they are being subjected.

The fact that they have no legal rights is confirmed in a ruling issued by the UN Committee against Torture, which not only requested that the US Government close that arbitrary prison, but also urged it to change what they euphemistically called interrogation techniques, because they amount to torture, as well as a halt to brutal treatment such as what is called the "submarine technique", in which the prisoner’s head is submerged in water to the brink of asphyxia.

This was a method used by the military dictatorships of the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s, possibly because those criminals were taught by US instructors. It appears that they have continued to use these methods.

After detailed investigations, including a deposition in their own defence by representatives of the Bush Government, the UN committee’s final report reaffirmed the existence of secret prisons. That working group has obtained reliable information about US prisons on foreign soil, and in response to Washington’s allegations that international conventions do not apply in the case of war, the UN experts reconfirmed that torture cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Not only should this enclave be closed, the United States should also completely get out of the territory that does not belong to them and that they use in such a degrading manner.


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