|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
June 21, 2005
GUANTÁNAMO: 'NOTORIOUS PRISON' CAUSING 'IMMENSE DAMAGE' TO U.S. IMAGE
** Dailies cite Guantánamo to explain why the U.S. is "losing the image war around the world."
** To critics, the camp demonstrates the U.S.' "increasingly stunning double standard."
** Such "systematic abrogation of human rights" is "unjustifiable."
** Rightist media term comparisons to the Soviet gulag an "ahistorical absurdity."
'Close this disgrace now'-- Critics predicted the U.S. would gain a "positive propaganda effect" if it would "close down Guantánamo." Such a decision would both "demonstrate the U.S. commitment to human rights" and be "good for the U.S. image abroad," said Brazil's liberal Folha de S. Paulo. The pro-government Saudi Gazette labeled Guantánamo the "most potent symbol of the U.S.' spectacular and continuing failure" to "win the hearts and minds" of Muslims, judging the camp a "recruiting beacon" for al-Qaida. France's left-of-center Liberation agreed Guantánamo "fuels the risk of attacks against Americans rather than the contrary."
'Hypocrisy, arrogance and bullying'-- Outlets said the "concentration camp at Guantánamo" discredits the U.S. "claim to the moral high ground." The camp is an "arrant violation of every American value," thundered the conservative Ottawa Sun, while Pakistan's center-left Dawn warned that "America's position as a beacon of democracy will be lost" if the camp remains open. Analysts doubted the "unbelievably self-righteous" U.S. can "espouse and impose" democracy on others while "limiting and restricting the enjoyment of fundamental human and political rights." Bahrain's pro-government Daily Tribune stressed how the "self-styled champion of human rights" is engaging in "willful abuse of Muslim detainees."
Guantánamo 'must not become a precedent'-- Citing "injustice coupled with highhandedness," Euro and African papers such as Botswana's independent Mmegi termed the camp "humiliating and dehumanizing." Austria's mass-circulation Kurier warned that Guantánamo's "contempt for humanity" has "spun out of control"; activities there "cannot be termed anything but torture," added Denmark's center-right Politiken. These observers emphasized that the Guantánamo "abomination" has "shocked a good deal of Americans," as debate over the camp is "heating up in the U.S." Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung opined that "even loyal Pentagon friends are denouncing" the treatment of detainees.
'An ugly excess in an otherwise necessary fight'-- Conservative dailies dismissed the "strikingly mundane" reports of abuses at Guantánamo, noting that closing the camp and releasing the detainees "might allow them to resume their horrifying attacks on innocent civilians." Canada's National Post spoke for this point of view by stating that the camp is "certainly not a Koranic paradise, but it could be much worse." Venezuela's leading El Nacional alleged that Guantánamo opponents, "driven by hatred towards Bush," have chosen to "align...with Islamic fundamentalism." Other papers agreed that critics were reluctant to "take the real measure of Islamic terrorists" and instead are "excusing their ideology."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 36 reports from 21 countries over 6 - 21 June, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
FRANCE: "The Forgotten Jailers"
Ivan Rioufol wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/17): “The media’s refusal to carry judgment over the hostage takers (in Iraq) is not without meaning. The same media was quick to denounce the American humiliations imposed at Abu Gharaib.... Did Human Rights defenders criticize the conditions of detention of Aubenas and Hanoun? This silence goes hand in hand with France’s reticence to take the real measure of Islamic terrorists, who are trying to stop the timid progress of democratization in the Middle East. The recent carnage of Iraqi civilians has awakened no emotion in our moralists. They prefer to call these acts ‘acts of resistance.’ This type of attitude is already a form of capitulation in the face of this new totalitarianism and its Jihad launched since 9/11. With the pretext of not wanting to hurt the sensibility of the jailers, the media is giving the impression it is excusing their ideology and their practices or at least granting them extenuating circumstances in the name of their fight against 'the American occupier'.... This surrender is already a form of victory for Islamic fundamentalism.”
"Attorney General Does Not Preclude Closing Guantanamo"
Jean-Pierre Stoobants noted in left-of-center Le Monde (6/17): “Everyone in Brussels praised the positive balance sheet of EU-U.S. cooperation since 9/11, even if everyone noted that Guantanamo was one of the main obstacles to full anti-terrorist cooperation.... The general tone of the Attorney General, who praised the ‘excellent cooperation’ between the EU-25 and the U.S., was conciliatory.... About France, he also praised the 'remarkable level of cooperation, in spite of what some may think.’”
"New Questions About Guantanamo Interrogation Methods"
Philippe Gelie wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/14): “The debate in the U.S. over methods used in Guantanamo was slow to start but it is now launched in the political arena...with the possibility of a Congressional investigation being opened.... While the Pentagon has declared that its prison in Cuba ‘has helped to save American lives,’ the revelations made in Time magazine lead one to ambiguous conclusions: while it is clear that the detainees in Guantanamo are no angels, the methods used by the army are unjustifiable.”
"In The U.S. Pressure Is Mounting On Guantanamo"
Fabrice Rousselot and Pascal Riche held in left-of-center Liberation (6/10): “In Washington the appeals are increasingly numerous and loud to shut down this prison that opened in January 2002.... According to its detractors, Guantanamo fuels the risk of attacks against Americans rather than the contrary.... In the State of law that is the U.S., Guantanamo is an abomination that shocks a good deal of Americans.”
GERMANY: "Vice President Cheney Shows He is Unable To Understand Guantánamo"
Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/15): "Vice President Cheney has now given up his cover to defend the part of the Bush/Cheney policy that is the most difficult to defend: the practice to keep prisoners at Guantánamo. Cheney's self-righteous way is surprising, because it was no one but the president who gave reason for speculation a few days ago that his government could change the internment system for terror suspects soon.... With all the commentaries, it is the first time that the Guantánamo saga has reached a critical density, which Bush did not have to fear before. Criticism is now coming from his own party and even loyal Pentagon friends are denouncing the treatment of prisoners. The media now longer restrain themselves after the muzzle from the White House following the Newsweek affair on the alleged desecration of the Koran has undermined their self-image.... Cheney said an unbearably self-righteous sentence: 'Those who are the strongest supporters of closing down Guantánamo are rejecting our policy anyway.' This is the miserable logic of infants. Because you don't like us anyway, we do whatever we like. In none of his statements, the vice president has thus far revealed that he has recognized the vacuum of the rule of law as a problem in the terrorist camps, that he feels a democratic constraint to justify this policy of arbitrariness. It is schizophrenic of the U.S. policy that the Bush administration is demanding transparency and uprightness in arguments from young democracies, while it itself does not present convincing reasons for the break of the rule of law. Dinosaur Cheney does not realize how he weakens the U.S. persuasiveness with every appearance in public."
AUSTRIA: "Cost And Benefits"
Christoph Winder said in independent Der Standard (6/15): "What is more important than what is actually being said in the current debate about Guantanamo is the fact that, for the first time, this debate has reached a critical dimension in the US as well. Demands to close down the camp immediately have been heard. The arguments are not always predominantly constitutional ones. What is debated more and more openly these days is the immense damage to America's image in the world.... The Bush administration itself does not seem to know any longer how to deal with Guantanamo. The President does not rule out the possibility of closing down the camp and is being corrected in this by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, whom many people take to be the true boss. Apparently, there is lack of clarity in the top ranks of the political leadership about the cost-benefit equation of Guantanamo, and that is unlikely to disappear soon."
"Wrong Fight Against 'Bad People'"
Foreign affairs editor Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier (6/14): "It's not just Democratic politicians who have recently taken to demanding the closure of Guantanamo. More and more high-ranking Americans are realizing that the camp, just like the psychological abuse of prisoners in Iraqi prisons and the desecration of the Koran, are...the greatest 'propaganda gift for America's enemies.' The administration in Washington has not yet managed to arrive at this conclusion--nor at the conclusion that this reflects a kind of contempt for humanity that is not covered by the law. Bush's Vice President Dick Cheney, a past master in the art of self-justification, called the Guantanamo prisoners 'bad people.' It can be suspected that there are many of those around. If those who bear political responsibility would look at the cost of the anti-terror war and its paltry benefits, however, they would reconsider--if ethics is no longer a consideration, then at least for financial reasons or even just for the necessary positive propaganda effect.""
DENMARK: "Guantanamo Is An Historic Scandal"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende declared (6/19): "The internment of suspected terrorists on the US base in Guantanamo has never been legal.... The U.S. is in violation of the fundamental right possessed by any prisoner: that of being charged and brought before a judge, or being released after a short period of detention.... Even though the US justice system works in favor of equal rights before the law, there is every indication that a change of presidents will be necessary for the US administration to return to reason on this issue. It is not difficult to understand the U.S.' reluctance to giving 500 suspected terrorists back their freedom, which might allow them to resume their horrifying attacks on innocent civilians.... It is also true that the US fight against terrorism is being fought for everyone else's right to live in security and freedom as well. War claims victims and sometimes has to be fought using means that are not pretty. But Guantanamo is in a special category when it comes to both gross abuse and stupidity. The U.S.' trampling on democratic rules of the game is seen in the Arab world as legitimization of terrorism. The good example that the United States and the Western world should present in the form of respect for human rights is undermined.... The camp unfortunately presents an irresistible opportunity for primitive anti-Americanism. In short, Guantanamo is a scandal, and it is putting a lasting and shameful chapter on the U.S. into the history books."
"The Gulag And Guantanamo Are Not The Same Thing"
Center-right Politiken held (6/13): "Amnesty International is indignant--no lesser cause would be sufficient--over the conditions under which people suspected of terrorism live on the Guantanamo base. The organization may well have reason to be incensed. You would have to be more sympathetic than most people are toward the US 'war against terrorism' in order to ignore the harsh treatment that prisoners are subjected to in this camp. Concurring reports by released prisoners bear witness to interrogation practices that cannot be termed anything but torture.... Sophisticated ways to break down prisoners' mental and physical condition are frequently employed, and the highly praised Geneva Convention, which the U.S. is quick to cite in other contexts, is systematically disregarded. Our US allies, to whom we in Europe owe more than we like to recall, violate and besmirch the legal principles that we--and they--actually consider the cornerstone of Western civilization. Criticism of conditions in Guantanamo...is justified and can tolerate frequent repetition. So far, so good. But when Amnesty International...compare Guantanamo with the Gulag, there is reason to say hold on a moment. Let us repeat: the Gulag, the name for the concentration camp system that Soviet communism used to torture, humiliate, and 'liquidate' so-called class enemies, cost millions of human lives. Comparing Guantanamo and the Gulag for scholarly purposes is alright, but equating the two camp systems is at best an ahistorical absurdity, and at worst, an own goal of major proportions. The Gulag was an important part of an ideological program devoted to limiting and possibly eradicating any potential opposition to the concept of a 'workers' paradise.' Guantanamo is an ugly excess in an otherwise necessary fight against international terrorism."
NORWAY: "Toward An End For Guantánamo?"
Kristin Nilsen observed in newspaper-of-record Aftenposten (6/17): "The debate over a possible closing down of the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay is heating up in the U.S. Even to George W. Bush’s Administration the thought is not completely foreign.... In the White House they talk in two tongues about the future of Guantánamo. President George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are cracking the door open and say that all alternatives will be investigated in an attempt to find the best way to protect America.... From Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney there is a quite different and dismissive tone. Rumsfeld says it will be many years before the camp can be closed down… Dick Cheney rejects the criticism and says that no matter how people feel about Guantánamo, it is an important part of the strategy to win the War on Terror.... It’s not easy to say who will win the debate in the White House. A closing down of the camp would in any case not result in a freeing of the detainees, which is something not even the critics have voted in favor of. Some will probably be sentenced, the lucky ones will be let go, and the rest will be moved to a prison somewhere else. People over the whole world see Guantánamo as a symbol of injustice and abuse, and therefore it will be of great significance if the Americans close it down. But the moving of prisoners alone is probably not enough to restore the U.S. reputation when it comes to the treatment of prisoners.”
SWEDEN: "The U.S. Says One Thing And Does Another"
Independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter editorialized (6/15): "It is apparent that the war against terrorism has changed the way of looking at things.... There is no evident enemy in a uniform...and no given end to the ‘war,’ and no surrender.... Guantanamo must not become a precedent. It is disgraceful to keep people detained without trial--no matter how guilty they are--(or deprive them of POW status).... Guantanamo and the acts of cruelty against Iraqi prisoners will only reinforce the image many have about a superpower that puts itself above the law.... To the Bush administration the encroachments have become a special dilemma. During President George W. Bush’s time in the White House it has become more evident that the U.S. regards itself having a moral right to take action regardless of what others think.... Washington often asks others to do what it has no intention of doing itself. The U.S., for example, demands that other countries disarm or refrain from going nuclear, without living up to its own NPT commitments. The U.S. publishes annual reports on human rights in other parts of the world at the same time as the Guantanamo detainees live in a limbo. To have this kind of dual standard is, in a practical way, undermining the chance to have international support for rights that the U.S. considers itself to have.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Rage As Rice Visits"
Sabria S. Jawhar wrote in the pro-government English-language Saudi Gazette (6/21): "Condeleezza Rice, in making a forceful case for democracy in the Muslim world, on Monday found reason to criticize the course of justice in Saudi Arabia while choosing to ignore America's Guantanamo Bay detention facility where prisoners have got no semblance of justice months and years since their arrest.... Detainees in Guantanamo Bay have not been charged or tried and who are denied basic human rights under the Geneva Convention.... America should be ashamed of talking about freedom and human rights while the world is learning about human rights violations daily in Guantanamo. America is not in a position to talk about democracy and human rights while it's the first to violate them all over the world including on its soil.... They...should take care of their own issues first before lecturing the world about what should and should not be done.... Let them correct their problems in Guantanamo, overcome Abu Ghuraib and stop shedding blood in Iraq, then look into other country's internal affairs."
"Dick Cheney’s Legacy"
The pro-government English-language Saudi Gazette declared (6/17): "Cheney has no doubts about the value of the US military detention center at Guantanamo Bay.... He did not allude to a Pentagon inquiry that recently found that some American guards and interrogators had mistreated the Quran, in some cases intentionally.... Anyone parading the kind of nonsense emanating from Messrs Cheney and Hunter in fiction would be accused of writing stereotypical rubbish. Guantanamo is located in Cuba, a country most Americans are forbidden to visit. The military base is effectively outside the jurisdiction of the American courts which means in practical terms the activities of US personnel there are unregulated. Those who have been detained have no proper legal representation and if they ever were a threat it is difficult to believe after some three years they still are. Guantanamo is an institution that shames the American people and discredits their claim to the moral high ground. What Cheney and Rep. Hunter have completely failed to grasp is that in the battle against terrorism the U.S. must win the hearts and minds of the Islamic world. Guantanamo is the most potent symbol of the U.S.' spectacular and continuing failure to achieve that goal."
Ali Ibrahim argued in pan-Arab London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat (6/15): "The threat that prisoners in Guantanamo may pose when they leave the detention centre is only speculation and the countries which will receive them are responsible for preventing them from carrying out fresh terrorist attacks.... The closing of Guantanamo detention centre, which caused such an adverse publicity, is a must."
BAHRAIN: "Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Torture Icons"
The English-language pro-government Daily Tribune opined (6/15): "Spin doctors in the Bush administration are again working overtime to dilute the bad press the US has received recently over its mistreatment of people illegally detained from different countries and dumped at Guantanamo Bay.... On Capitol Hill, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter...displayed plates of meals served to detainees at the Bay and declared that 'the inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they’ve never been treated better, and they’ve never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation.' Hunter, in fact, made a laughing stock of himself by performing this media stunt. Either he is ignorant of US antics being performed at the Bay or he thinks nobody knows what is going on in 'the gulag of our times'.... If Hunter is so sensitive about Bay problems, he should have undergone the same torture tactics and experienced first hand what it means to be a victim in seclusion of injustice coupled with highhandedness in a foreign land.... Juveniles were also dumped at the Bay by the self-styled champion of human rights.... Dick Cheney who still thinks the US camps at the Bay are not hurting America’s image abroad and should not be closed down, needs to have a better view of how fast the US popularity is declining around the world.... Neo-cons should realise that they are losing the PR war too in and out of the country.... Guantanamo Bay has shaken the sensible and thinking world to its foundation. To much of the world, unfortunately, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are symbols of American willful abuse of Muslim detainees."
SYRIA: "Admission Is Not Enough"
Umar Jaftalli opined in government-owned Tishreen (6/8): "The US admitted five cases of desecration of the holy Koran in the Guantanamo prison.... What draws the attention in this issue is the fact that these shameful actions, which are associated with torture of Arab and Muslim detainees in US detention centers in Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib, show a perverse behavior in the US military mentality. What happened cannot be described as individual and isolated cases, as the White House said. Rather, they indicate the hatred and sense of superiority with which the US army treats people from other nations.... Strangely, these actions remind us of the occupation forces' practices in the occupied Arab territories where Israeli soldiers relish the killing of Palestinians, while some of them regard it as a religious duty. What is stranger still is the fact that the White House and Pentagon played down these offensive acts that took place in Guantanamo. They regarded them as unintentional isolated incidents without making an apology or taking measures to prevent the repetition of these 'incidental' acts. This stand will not calm down the feelings of anger and indignation toward the US policy in the Arab and Islamic worlds. The US Administration claims to care about the Arab and Islamic worlds and shows an alleged concern over their future. The admission of fault is not enough, if genuine measures are not taken to prevent the repetition of this fault and perpetuate the principles of respecting human rights, feelings, and faiths everywhere."
UAE: "Contempt For The World?"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf Today editorialized (6/13): "More shocking reports of torture are coming out of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. Even politicians who benignly backed President George W Bush's Iraq and Afghan expeditions are aghast at the treatment of terror suspects...held in what Amnesty International describes as a gulag. Despite fresh reports of torture and rights violations, the Bush administration has vowed that it has no plans to close the detention centre. It does not mind defying world opinion. Vice-President Dick Cheney justified on Monday Guantanamo's existence.... These declarations are not backed by a court of law. The White House and Pentagon are the arbiters deciding the fate of the detainees. There is no due process of law. The suspects are held under the legal disguise of non-combatants to deny them legal protection and safeguards offered by the Geneva Conventions.... Secret US interrogation logs...revealed blatant abuse of prisoners. The Pentagon justifies these methods as part of its war on terror.... What we see is systematic abrogation of human rights. In fact Guantanamo has come to symbolise Washington's contempt for the rule of law.... The US is losing the image war around the world. It is seen as a power that builds a global empire and scuttles multilateral institutions.... Wherever the US plans, the very label of shutting up people as enemy combatants violates the basic rights of prisoners. The torture, interrogation and desecration of the Holy Koran are against all norms of civilised behaviour. Today Guantanamo is a monument to America's contempt for democratic norms and the rule of law, which are the foundations of democracy that it seeks to espouse and impose on others."
"Close Down The Bay Now"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times declared (6/12): "If the U.S. shuts down the Guantanamo Bay prison, as President Bush hinted this weekend, it would indeed do a lot of good for America’s image around the world. Here’s an opportunity for the Bush administration to demonstrate that it continues to believe in human rights and respect for the rule of law. The clamour for closure of the infamous prison off Cuba has been steadily growing.... The chorus of outrage over the fate of detainees at the base reached its peak with the Amnesty International last week accusing the superpower of running 'the gulag of our time'.... Continual reports of abuse at the Bay are embarrassing to America and have damaged its standing around the world.... Reports of abuse from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay have indeed heavily dented America’s reputation around the world. So here is a chance for the Bush administration to undo the wrongs of the past and refurbish US image as a champion of democracy and human rights and friend of the deprived and persecuted. This will not only deal with the current wave of anti-US sentiment worldwide but also silence many of those critics who are always ready to unleash anti-America tirades even though human rights violations are quite common in their own countries.... Whatever the crimes of those held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, the US would do well to bring them to trial.... Forcing them to hang between life and death languishing in a lawless territory does not go well with America’s lofty ideals of justice and civil liberties. The US should close down Guantanamo Bay now--in its own interest."
YEMEN: "Amnesty International And Mr. Bush"
Hassan Al-Haifi asserted in the pro-government English-language Yemen Times (6/20): "It goes without saying that it seems that the issues of human rights and the right to uphold different political views has never been subjected to a harder ordeal.... Even the most looked-up-to democracy in the world has decided to embark on a clearly open systematic pursuit of limiting and restricting the enjoyment of fundamental human and political rights.... The Bush Administration then goes on to lash out at important institutions of civil society...Guantanamo is simply out of tune with internationally accepted principles of human rights and humane treatment of people, who may or may not pose any threat to anyone.... The White House...has openly declared a war against a significant portion of humanity.... This war was a predetermined agenda set out to serve the narrow interests of a dangerous evil force that seems to believe it has the right to bring down all of humanity to its knees...while the establishment plunders the elements of the planet and destroys its natural and social cohesion.... It should not be surprising to the Bush Administration that the harsh treatment meted out to prisoners detained without legal or constitutional pretext should come under criticism of a human rights watchdog organization like AI.... As usual the Bush Administration has demonstrated that indeed it is liable to even further criticism by harshly lashing out against its critics, as if to tell the world that the Bushniks and their Likudnik mentors have a God given hold on infallibility and their rights are only governed by the evil interests they serve rather than the desire to enhance and uphold the rights and welfare of people all over the world. It is really high time for the Bush Administration to understand that they will and must be subject to the criticism of respectable organizations like Amnesty International, whose credibility has far surpassed any credibility the Bush Administration has ever displayed."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Guantanamo Bay Defeats Its Purpose"
The centrist Canberra Times judged (6/15): "Perhaps the Prime Minister, John Howard, feels...that the sort of people who are critical of the detention, or of the prison, are 'against us anyway,' and that there is no purpose to be served by responding to critics of what has been happening.... But he's wrong, and on two counts. The very indifference to questions such as the rights of accused terrorists seriously undermines the Government's, and Australia's, position in the war against terror.... As the US judiciary has completed the brief fit of patriotic fervour which saw it overlook fundamental questions of justice and has come again to consider the situation of those in the Guantanamo limbo, it has seemed more and more likely that they will reject almost all of the legal base of America's holding prisoners there.... There is the slightly inconvenient matter that a court system, as opposed to the tame military tribunal system, seems unlikely to accept evidence which has been obtained by coercive techniques.... It is important to remember that the US did not establish the detention camp there primarily so as to hold terrorists for trial; it did so to obtain information and intelligence for use in the war against terror...if at a cost to human rights and America's reputation.... The problem which the Australian Government must contemplate is no longer mere collapse of legal proceedings against Hicks and other prisoners. It is that American politicians--the very ones in whose assurances we have placed so much faith--have recognised what a public relations disaster Guantanamo Bay is for the US.... There are increasing signs that the US will peremptorily close the facility down.... The PR disaster is not merely a matter of bad headlines. It is, in fact, a recruiting beacon for movements such as al-Qaeda, anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism.... In the war against terror, we are supposed to be defending our way of life and our systems. The problem with ends-justify-means solutions is the very negation of that cause."
CHINA: "Closure Of A Prison, End Of The Whole Thing?"
Sun Tianren observed in official People's Daily (People's Daily) (6/13): "The prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay has become a target of public criticism.... At a moment when Washington's reputation has been damaged by reports of prisoner abuses, closing the prison would demonstrate the US commitment to human rights.... But can the whole problem be put to an end even if the prison is closed?.... The US aims to promote democracy and freedom around the world and to put an end to 'tyranny.' But what its troops played in Guantanamo, as people see, is a 'game' of violence plus terror. In recent years, scandals about American mistreatment of prisoners exploded one after another, in which different degrees of abuse and torture during the whole process from capture, transport to detention and interrogation were reported.... Those subject to abuses were not only Muslims but also prisoners from Western countries. The means of mistreatment by American troops included threat to kill, theft, physical injury, shooting at prisoners held in detention facilities and even desecration of the Koran in front of Muslims. The 'guard of human rights' is used to attacking human rights records of other countries, but when it comes to its own, it either dodges the question or explains it away. Now the country cannot help being embarrassed by the scandal.... Closure of one or more prisons, however, can hardly cover up the many facts of American trampling on human rights, and what happened in Guantanamo is no more than 'the tip of the iceberg.'"
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Symbol Of American Mistakes Must Close"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (6/17): "U.S. President George W. Bush's war on terrorism has lost direction and nowhere is that more evident than at the military detention camp for suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The facility has become a symbol for all that is wrong with American efforts to prevent more attacks like those on September 11, 2001.... Bush administration claims are simple--that it has a right to deal with any perceived threat against the U.S. and American interests in its own way. The counter-argument is grounded less in American self-righteousness than international legal reality--as a global war has been declared on terrorists, they have to be dealt with by the legal framework drawn up to deal with armed conflicts, the Geneva Conventions. These clearly define the rights of prisoners and the obligations of countries towards them. Guantanamo Bay flies in the face of those internationally recognized and agreed rules. It is time for the U.S. to abide by them, acknowledge its failings and allow the detainees their rights. Closing the camp would be a significant first step."
"The U.S. As Seen From Its Prisoner Abuse"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (6/9): "At the end of last month, Amnesty International issued its annual human rights report gravely criticizing U.S. torture of prisoners. The report said that the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay was a 'contemporary gulag'.... Scandals of torture and Koran desecration have arisen because U.S. military methods of extorting confessions have spun out of control. These incidents have exposed the divide between U.S. social strata and politics, with broad implications. First of all, the incidents show the socialization of the U.S. military's lower stratum. In photos of U.S. prisoner abuse in Iraq, almost all of the soldiers are white. Racism is clear at a glance.... Secondly, the abuse implies a religious war as Iraqi prisoner abuse reflects another important social factor in the U.S.--religion. It shows that U.S. right-wing Christians despise and are extremely hostile to Muslims.... Third, the abuse points to a new civil war between the North and the South, revealing problems of class.... The political power center in the U.S. is shifting from the North and the coasts--with mainly traditional liberals--to the middle and the South, occupied by religious conservatives and blighted by racism.... Following this historic role reversal, the U.S. is depriving other people of their rights by using advanced weapons at the hands of U.S. soldiers. This is the U.S."
INDONESIA: "The Guantanamo Case"
Independent Media Indonesia noted (6/6): "The U.S. continues to demonstrate an increasingly stunning double standard. The country continues to claim to be the pioneer of democracy but it has its dark side with regards to tolerance. In fact, democracy places high respect on differences, human rights and other people’s faith. With regard to respecting others’ faith, the U.S. often shows a dark face. It often violates it openly, vulgarly.... The jail in Guantanamo reveals that the practices of interrogation and treatment to detainees are very inhuman.... In Guantanamo the prisoners are not only jailed without due process of law, but the American soldiers insult them, insult the religious symbols that the religion’s adherents respect and sanctify highly. The desecration of the Koran in Guantanamo proved that they do not have a standard code of conduct in treating prisoners from a democratic society. By no means do they have any knowledge of human rights. They have no understanding and sensitivity whatsoever about the issues that are sensitive to religious adherents.... The U.S. must learn a lesson from the desecration of the Koran. If they view it as a trivial issue, they would be very wrong. There must be a serious and objective investigation, the results of which must be made public. Those found guilty must be punished accordingly. The U.S. government must also gently apologize for this mistake. And as for Indonesian Muslims, we should not overreact to the case.”
PAKISTAN: "In The Prison Of Guantanamo"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn concluded (6/19): "It was evident that there was concern among both Democrats and Republicans that the treatment of prisoners in the Cuba-based prison camp was sullying America’s image abroad.... Guantanamo has also been described by Amnesty International as the ‘gulag of our times’. All this seems to have made little impression on Washington that does not seem at all concerned about the worldwide criticism its actions have drawn. Perhaps that is why it is not pushed to giving prisoners their legal rights.... This has raised questions about America’s commitment to justice as enshrined in its constitution and has led to justifiable fears that if Washington does not change its stance on the issue, America’s position as a beacon of democracy will be lost for ever."
An editorial in Urdu-language sensationalist Ummat read (6/17): "Donald Rumsfeld, who is one of the important characters of the quartet which imposed wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and spread terrorism around the world, has admitted that America’s credibility is badly damaged and the U.S. is not viewed favorably in several countries. Instead of saying that the cause of this loss of credibility is the barbarism of the U.S. government and its troops, Rumsfeld has said that whenever a country gains power, other countries try to weaken it.... If President Bush and his cronies take a look at the history, they will realize that powers even greater than the U.S. were destroyed in the past. If the U.S. really wants to restore its credibility, it should give up traits like hatred, malice and revenge, and take the path of humanity and nobility."
"Sixteen Methods Of Torturing Guantanamo Bay Prisoners"
Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan concluded (6/15): "According to American magazine Time, Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld has formally approved 16 methods of torturing Guantanamo Bay prisoners, which include administration of injections, making prisoners sit near dogs and humiliation at the hands of female functionaries.... Another method of torture at Guantanamo Bay had been desecration of the Holy Quran.... America should desist from taking the path of oppression and torture."
"Gulag Of Our Times"
The center-right national English-language Nation contended (6/7): "Rejecting strongly worded protests from President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Rice, prestigious Amnesty International has reiterated its stand that the U.S. government is operating an 'archipelago' of interrogation centers around the world reminiscent of the Stalinist prison camps.... They also took note of interrogative methods like extracting the nails of prisoners, use of electric shocks and in the case of Uzbekistan, even boiling political opponents and suspects alive. As Amnesty international observed it in its annual report last month, tactics to fight the War on Terror being employed by the U.S. had turned out to be counterproductive while they had encouraged rampant abuse of human rights. The desecration of the Holy Quran at Guantanamo, the killing of suspects by subjecting them to unbearable torture in Bagram and other places, and the humiliation of detainees by interrogators and U.S. army personnel at Abu Ghraib have strengthened the perception...among many Muslims across the world the Bush administration is in fact waging a war against Islam. This is increasingly isolating the moderate elements and regimes in Muslim countries and providing the extremists a cause célèbre to recruit terrorists. It is high time the Bush Administration apologizes for the desecration of the Holy Quran and treats the suspects in accordance with the normal judicial process and do away with...a shadowy parallel system created by the administration after 9/11."
BOTSWANA: "Close Down Guantanamo Camp"
The independent Gaborone-based weekly Mmegi/The Reporter stated (6/12): "When Americans travel outside their country, they often are surprised at the anti-American sentiment.... Reactions to the hatred tend to differ. There are those who feel the rest of the world is jealous of their country's prosperity and superpower status. Others are indifferent. Then there are others who rightfully attribute the way the world looks at them to their country's foreign policy. Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld fits very well in the dismissive camp. In his view, the U.S. can do no wrong. A case in point is the controversy surrounding the military detention centre at Guantanamo.... Despite the mounting complaints...Rumsfeld still finds it right to defend the use of a humiliating and dehumanizing concentration camp. Reports from human rights organisations about the abuses carried out at the detention centre have been damning. If it were any other country facing such criticism from human rights organisations, the U.S. would be shouting from the rooftops, lecturing about civil liberties. Herein lies the explanation for the anti-American sentiment. The world is tired of the hypocrisy, arrogance and bullying that characterizes U.S. dealings with the rest of the world.... American citizens interested in building better relations with the rest of the world should begin to demand that their leaders be more accountable in pursuit of their country's foreign policies. It calls for gestures like acknowledging the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel, and closing down the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay."
TANZANIA: "America Should Not Play Jokes With Muslims"
Independent pro-Islam Kiswahili-language tabloid Nasaha editorialized (6/8): "U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden has called on the U.S. to close down the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.... It seems America is now reaping the bitter fruits of waging war against Muslims and Islam around the world. From the look of things, when the U.S. launched its Crusade in 2002, it was expected that Muslims would bow to Washington and there would be no solidarity among them. Today, the U.S. is seeing that the whole Islamic world is affected by what is happening to their brothers in Guantanamo. It is afraid of admitting that its oppression of Muslims at Guantanamo Bay has strengthened the solidarity among Muslims around the world.... They are good at casting Muslims in a bad light. When Muslims stand steadfast to fight infidels whose aim is to extinguish the light of Islam, when they defend their rights, they are not called human rights activists--they are called terrorists. Recently, Muslims have been demonstrating against the desecration of the Holy Koran by U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo. The U.S. has quickly announced that it is carrying out investigations and has indicated a willingness to meet Muslims and discuss the issue with them.... America is looking for a way to soften things. After seeing that it is in trouble with Muslims, it now wants to win back their confidence. It wants to show that whenever Muslims have been mistreated, America is concerned and will take remedial action. It wants to prove that America respects human rights and freedom of worship.... We want to caution Muslims that Americans have nothing new to offer. They are murderers, leaders in violating human rights. Be not deceived.... Stay the course until justice is done to your brothers at Guantanamo."
UGANDA: "Quran Desecration Bigger Than Bush And Rumsfeld"
Opiyo Oloya wrote in the state-owned New Vision (6/8): "Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld do not get it. The furor over the US army mishandling of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay, where Muslim prisoners are held without charge, is not just about the Holy Book, but about the way America continues to treat those who practice the Islamic faith. The Bush administration was quick to note that these were isolated incidents carried out by individuals and is not a part of US official policy towards handling of the Quran. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused those raising issues of abuse in Guantanamo as lacking objectivity and seriousness. Yet, the Bush administration is responsible for creating conditions that embolden borderline racists who normally would operate in the shadows to act out their anti-Muslim hate openly. Ever so paternalistic--never mind that even a six-year-old can see through the charade--the administration continues to insist that the Muslim world not look at US actions leveled against it but rather what the administration is saying.... Muslim men and those with a Middle Eastern appearance continue to be targeted daily.... The bottom-line is that the Bush administration shotgun approach is wearing very thin, and the Americans need to start meaning what they say, namely that the current war is against terrorists and not against Muslims in general. It must stop perpetuating the myth that Muslims are terrorists and that those caught in security dragnets do not deserve due process of the law."
CANADA: "No Excuse For America's Island Jail"
Eric Margolis observed in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (6/20): "Fortunately, decent Americans find the Guantanamo gulag an outrageous violation of everything the nation stands for. Former president Jimmy Carter, who has become the country's conscience in a time of growing totalitarian impulses, demanded it be closed, as have a growing number of legislators, including the Republican party's most courageous senator, Chuck Hagel. Americans are being told that all Guantanamo inmates are mad-dog terrorists. Not true. Many were rounded up in Afghanistan by local warlords offered $10,000 or more per head by the U.S. for 'terrorist' captives. Some are Pakistanis who were visiting Afghanistan for religious or family matters. Some had joined Taliban forces to fight the Russian-backed Afghan Communist Party known as the Northern Alliance--not against the U.S. Others were jihadis preparing to fight Uzbekistan's brutal communist regime or to oppose Indian occupation of Kashmir. Only a handful of real anti-U.S. al-Qaida members are there.... Guantanamo violates the Geneva Conventions, international and U.S. law. There are reports that in the rest of the secret U.S. gulags in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Diego Garcia, even worse crimes are being committed against those suspected of anti-U.S. activities. If true, this is a criminal enterprise, and those involved should be prosecuted--starting at the top. The White House says Taliban and jihadi fighters were 'illegal combatants' deserving no mercy or legal protection. Then what of the 20,000 plus non-uniformed U.S. and British mercenaries operating in Iraq and Afghanistan as 'civilian contractors,' and non-uniformed U.S. Special Forces? Guantanamo, just 150 km from Miami, is not a problem of image. It is an arrant violation of every American value. It's worthy of KGB. Close this disgrace now."
André Pratte noted in centrist French-language La Presse (6/16): "Each time Westerners are made aware of abuse committed by American troops, they feel deeply uneasy. How can human dignity, indeed life itself, be violated in the name of liberty and democracy? Don't the means destroy the end?.... The acts revealed by Time might not strictly be torture. But we obviously do not know everything that goes on at Guantanamo. In fact, we know nothing. And that is worse. We do not know who is being held there. We do not know why. We do not know how the prisoners are being interrogated and if the methods used provide results. We do not know for how long they will be imprisoned (some have been there more than three years). Detainees have no rights. No charges have been brought against them. The United States deny them the protection afforded by international law as well as American law. Since September 11, 2001, a dilemma haunts the Western world: can we deny some people their rights if we are convinced that doing so will save innocent lives? It is an old dilemma that can be represented by the following extreme scenario: if a terrorist refuses to give information that would prevent an attack and, thus, save the lives of 100,000 people, is the use of force justified? In real life, obviously, situations are less cut and dry and the dilemma much harder to resolve. One thing is certain, a democratic society should allow tough interrogation methods only if there are control measures in place. Guantanamo should not be closed but opened. Open it to international observers, publicize the list of detainees and the reasons for their incarceration, give detainees access to the courts. Of course, we must fight terrorism with determination and without naiveté. But we must act according to our own values rather than those of the terrorists."
"Much Ado About Guantanamo"
The conservative National Post opined (6/15): "The recent disclosures by Time regarding interrogation methods used at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are strikingly mundane.... Khatani and his fellow detainees are being treated in a manner that befits their status as 'enemy combatants.' It is certainly not a Koranic paradise, but it could be much worse too.... The war on terrorism has not yet been won. The U.S. has no option but to continue to hold detainees who, like Kahtani, can be shown to represent a legitimate threat. For this purpose, the facility at Guantanamo is just as good a place as any."
BRAZIL: "Close Guantanamo"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo argued (6/18): "Two names symbolize the worst that has happened to the U.S. following Sept. 11: Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.... There have been abundant reports that prisoners in that U.S. base were submitted to humiliation and torture. Although generals at the Pentagon have denied the accusations, there are increasing signs that the White House plans to close Guantanamo or at least significantly reduce the number of prisoners. It would be a response to public opinion in both the U.S. and the world. The excesses committed in Guantanamo have shown that, on behalf of national security, U.S. officials had the intention to trample guarantees ensured by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions. The choice of Guantanamo to hold suspects of terrorism was aimed at denying the prisoners the protections provided by the U.S. Constitution.... U.S. officials argued that the prisoners were not entitled to constitutional guarantees because they were neither American citizens nor were on U.S. territory.... Such absurd juridical thesis was contradicted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It would be good for the U.S. image abroad if that decision were complemented by the closing of that notorious prison.”
VENEZUELA: "Bush, Iraq And The Left"
Aníbal Romero wrote in leading liberal El Nacional (6/15): “How can we explain such senselessness and irrational hatred towards Bush and the U.S. in general? A significant change has taken place on the international stage. The left, which fought against dictatorships in the past, today prefers Saddam Hussein to Bush. A few American soldiers, disobeying explicit orders, commit acts that go against human rights in an Iraqi jail, and because of that, Amnesty International, contaminated by the left and driven by hatred towards Bush, states that those situations are similar to the Soviet Gulag, where between 20 and 30 million people were killed systematically by socialism. The U.S., which was censured for endorsing authoritarianism, now defends freedom and democracy, and the left aligns itself with Islamic fundamentalism. There’s no doubt: the world is changing.”
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