What will future generations say about us?
May 5th, 2006 by teragram

A long time ago I was in Krakow in Poland. The nearby town of Oswiecim was the site of one of the most famous “concentration camps” — Auschwitz. The camp was scarily close to the centre of Oswiecim itself. Though I decided not to visit the museum that the camp has been turned into, I read a little about it. I was struck by the idea of the residents of Oswiecim passing the camp, or avoiding it, knowing — if not exactly what was going on there — that something awful was. I thought: “How could they stand it? Why didn’t they do something?” But what could they do?

Before I go on, I want to point out that I am not comparing the Americans to the Nazis. I am not about to say that Guantanamo is just like Auschwitz. I don’t know what is happening inside Guantanamo, but I’m sure it does not contain the degree of horror that Allied soldiers found in Nazi death camps. I do believe, however, that we are talking about a matter of degrees here.

It is just plain wrong to detain someone without due process. A certain Mr Bellinger, described by today’s Irish Times as “a top US government lawyer” has called on EU leaders to offer alternatives to Guantanamo. Here’s an alternative: charge them with a crime, or release them. That’s one of the foundations of the rule of law, and you don’t get to discard it when it becomes inconvenient. Questioning someone against their will when they’re not charged with a crime — even if they definitely know something you need to know and even if you treat them better than you treat your mother when she comes to visit — is indefensible.

I honestly believe that future generations will look back at Guantanamo and wonder why we didn’t do anything.

Well here’s what I’m going to do. It may not make any difference at all, except to salve my concience, but I’m going to turn this entry into a letter and send it to my four MEPs.


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