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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Past, Present U.S. lawlessness scrutinized

Values of violence — apropos current news from U.S. Bagram Prison 

Today in history: USA kills its head of state — November 22, 1963, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas.

On this day commemorating Kennedy's death, the Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] War Crimes Tribunal finds former U.S. President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of war crimes. 
The five-judge tribunal unanimously decided that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against peace and humanity when they invaded Iraq in 2003 in blatant violation of international law,” Press TV is reporting. “The judges ruled that war against Iraq by both the former heads of state was a flagrant abuse of law, act of aggression that amounted to a mass murder of the Iraqi people. In their verdict, the judges ruled that the United States, under the leadership of Bush, forged documents to claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They further said the findings of the tribunal be made available to members of the Rome Statute and the names of Bush and Blair be entered into a war crimes register.
Legal action charity Reprieve this month and last published updates on U.S. continued crimes against its  Bagram prisoners and a legal petition and Pakistani court action concerning the prisoners at this facility in Afghanistan.
Excerpting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

U.S. BAGRAM beyond law

The United States used Bagram Prison “to process prisoners captured during ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’” [the war on Afghanistan and other countries] and “has become backlogged with prisoners who are held for years — without charge, trial, or legal rights.”
Unlike U.S. Guantánamo detainees, who can at least engage a legal team to represent them at a military hearing, “prisoners at Bagram have no access to lawyers, and so are unable to challenge their detention.

Hamidullah Khan is among the United States’ illegal or extrajudicial detainees at Bagram.

Hamidullah Khan was 14 years old when forces picked him up. At the time of this abduction, Hamidullah Khan was “travelling from Karachi to his father’s village in Waziristan to salvage the family’s possessions during the ongoing military operation. … [H]is family are desperate for his return.”
Abu Ghraib
The Obama government, though “conceding that many prisoners are wrongfully held” at Bagram has in the past year “attempted to legitimize Bagram Prison, claiming that conditions and procedures at the facility have been improved.”

Families of Bagram prisoners asked Pakistan’s Lahore Court to secure the immediate release of their loved ones and a High Court Pakistani judge has ordered the country’s Government to visit the U.S. prison in Afghanistan in order to interview seven Pakistani nationals — including one prisoner originally captured by UK forces in 2004 — detained there illegally.

“This case,” Reprieve says, “tests the Obama Administration’s resolve and the Pakistani Government’s commitment to securing the rights of its citizens in illegal detention facilities abroad.…

Guantanamo Bay
Reprieve founder and director Clive Stafford Smith says, “the problem here is not the Pakistani Government – it is the U.S. Government holding Pakistani citizens for years beyond the rule of law.

“The U.S. must return to supposed American values – justice and the rule of law – and either give these men a fair trial or release them.”

Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world; its current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

Yesterday's Bagram update from Reprieve was that Pakistan's government was expected today to report to a court on the illegal detention of seven Pakistan nationals being held at a U.S. prison in Afghanistan.

Source and notes

 “Judge Orders Pakistan Government to interview citizens held illegally by U.S. at Bagram,” October 21, 2011, The High Court judge at Lahore acted in response to a petition filed by non-profit law firm Justice Project Pakistan (JPP).

The seven prisoners on the JPP petition are Awal Noor, Hamidullah Khan, Abdul Haleem Saifullah, Faizal Karim, Amal Khan,Yunus Rahmatullah and Iftikhaar Ahmed. All seven are Pakistani citizens who are being held indefinitely at Bagram without access to lawyers and without having been informed of the evidence against them. Some have been there for many years. Some have been abused. One prisoner is merely 16 years of age and was seized two years ago at the age of 14. Another was not permitted to speak to his family for six years, and is believed to be in a grievous physical and psychological condition.”


Reprieve is a legal action charity that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners — from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves.

Clive Stafford Smith is Reprieve’s founder and he has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.  http://www.reprieve.org.uk/news/

November 21, 2011 update

Pakistan Government due to report on illegal detentions by U.S. at Bagram prison, Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government is expected today to report back to a court on the illegal detention of seven of its nationals at a U.S. prison in Afghanistan.

In a hearing at the Lahore High Court, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is due to fulfill an order made last month by the judge, requiring them to send a representative to the U.S.-run Bagram prison to interview seven Pakistanis held there without charge or trial. http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/2011_11_21_Bagram_prison_Pakistan/

Lahore is second largest city of Pakistan and the capital of Punjab province. It lies 811 miles (1,305 km) northeast of Karachi in the upper Indus plain on the Ravi River, a tributary of the Indus.[Britannica note]

‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ (OEF) is the official name used by the U.S. government for the War in Afghanistan, together with a number of smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the global ‘War on Terror’ (GWOT).

The U.S. government originally called the operation ‘Operation Infinite Justice’— often misquoted as ‘Operation Ultimate Justice.’… U.S. President George W. Bush’s remark that ‘this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while,’ prompted widespread criticism from the Islamic world and may have contributed renaming of the operation.

The Operation some have reported comprises several subordinate operations:

1. Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan (OEF-A)
2. Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines (OEF-P) (formerly Operation Freedom Eagle)
3. Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)
4. Operation Enduring Freedom - Pankisi Gorge (completed in 2004)
5. Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) (see also Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002–present))
6. Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America (OEF-CCA)
7. Operation Enduring Freedom - Kyrgyzstan (completed in 2004)
Wikipedia note

Bagram Airfield (also referred to as Bagram Air Base) is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan.
The base is run by a U.S. Army division headed by a major general; a large part of the base is ‘owned’ by the United States Air Force (455th Air Expeditionary Wing).

The Detention Center at Bagram (Bagram Theater Internment Facility) has been heavily criticized for its abusive treatment of prisoners.
In May 2010, the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed that since August 2009, the Bagram Prison had been “informed by U.S. authorities about inmates of a second prison where detainees are held in isolation and without access to the International Red Cross, which is usually guaranteed to all prisoners.” Wikipedia note

“Bush, Blair found guilty of war crimes in Malaysia tribunal,” November 22, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/211548.html


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