Amnesty report's criticisms rejected by Bush administration

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Sunday, June 5, 2005

Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, compared the United States detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to a Soviet-era gulag in that it is "entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," she said.

The group's Executive Director William Schulz, on Fox News Sunday, said in response to questioning that they do not "know for sure" whether or not testimonies it has published describing torture and abuse of prisoners by sections of the U.S. military are valid because the U.S. will not give access to the camp to investigate them. [1]

He also said he has no conclusive evidence that U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, ordered torture of detainees at the facility. Schulz had previously referred to "apparent high-level architects of torture,", and included Donald Rumsfeld in that group. [2]

Director Schulz stated that comparing the installation to a gulag was perhaps not the best choice of words. "...they (detainees) are not in forced labor, they are not being denied food. But," he continued," there are some analogies between the gulags and our detention facilities." Schulz alleged that U.S. officials are "running an archipelago of detention facilities," some secret. The report also describes "ghost" detainees who "disappear" and the export of prisoners to countries that are known to practice torture.

During his appearance, Schulz argued that his and other human rights groups should be given broader access to the facility. "We don't know for sure what all is happening at Guantanamo," he said, "and our whole point is that the United States ought to allow independent human rights organizations to investigate." The treatment of prisoners at the facility has been in hot dispute recently, with Amnesty International comparing the facility to a "gulag" in its annual human rights report. Bush administration officials condemned the comparison.

On Friday, the U.S. government released documents indicating that both guards and detainees at the facility had on a few occasions abused the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book.

Prisoners and ex-prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have testified that they have been tortured. David Hicks, still being held, filed an affidavit on August 5, 2004 [3] declaring that he had been tortured, abused and ill-treated during his detention by US military authorities, and that he saw and heard similar treatment inflicted on other detainees. Mamdouh Habib, now free, says about his time at Guantanamo Bay that he was told by interrogators that his family had been killed, and that he was tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him. Professor Christopher Tennant of Sydney University also stated he saw an unsigned medical report from Guantanamo Bay that backed up Habib's claim to have been beaten while in US custody;

"Well, the main feature of the medical report from Guantanamo was that he had had repeatedly blood in his urine, which is a very significant symptom and a worrying symptom, and that was consistent with his reports both to me and to the specialist physician who also examined him, and was consistent with the fact that, on examination, he had evidence of discolouration to his skin on his right loin, just over his kidney, which in turn was consistent with old bruising and possibly due to being beaten."


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