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Last Updated: Friday, January 14, 2005 03:36:52 AM 

The Disappeared!
- by Hazel W.M. McKinlay
(Posted here by Wes Penre, October 23, 2004)

A British subject, Jamal al-Harith who spent two years in Guantanamo Bay as a terror suspect, Free Feroz!was subsequently released without charge and granted his liberty, no longer deemed a threat to National Security. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the same could be true of Feroz Abassi, who has been detained in isolation at Camp Echo for three years, without access to his lawyer or family.

Since no evidence has been presented against him, for all we know Feroz could have been shopping in Kunduz! If he is a “bad man” as claimed by George Bush, he should be repatriated to Britain and permitted the basic right to a fair trial. If our legal system is able to try Abu Hamza for International Terrorism, (audio tapes) then it must have jurisdiction over all our citizens incarcerated in Camp X-Ray.

The US Administration proudly named its offensive into Afghanistan and Iraq, a ‘War on Terror’ therefore, by all definitions the United States is at war, indefinitely and anyone captured during the course of this ongoing conflict, must be a prisoner of war, who in accordance with the Geneva Convention has unalienable human rights.

Zumrati Juma, the mother of Feroz Abbasi from Croydon, South London, who was caught (allegedly) fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan, argues that her son is being held at Guantanamo Bay in a way that “violates his fundamental rights under international law.”

Mrs. Juma has called upon the foreign and home secretaries to demand that the US government grant her son access to a lawyer. She claimed Feroz has been wrongly denied PoW status and that the government had “wrongly failed” to take up his case under the Geneva Convention and customary international law to “ensure the recognition of that status.”

Simply changing the name of PoW’s to “enemy combatants” does not alter their status one iota; whatever you call them, their basic rights are still being flagrantly breached. To change the term “war crime” to “peace initiative” would not suddenly legitimize road-side executions and give the US an excuse to overrule accepted, civilized codes.

If the captives of Camp Delta were combating enemy forces in defence of their country during a war, they are prisoners of that war and should be treated as such but they enjoy no protection under any national legal system and are subject to the arbitrary judgment of the Pentagon’s secretive Military Commission.

The ultimate decision on the penalty of those tried rests with the President and acquittal does not guarantee release. Bush presided over a record 151 executions while Governor of Texas and never granted clemency. Professions of remorse or pleas for mercy didn't sway him, believing that “judgments about the heart and soul of an individual on death row are best left to a higher authority.”

This is the first time a ‘friendly government’ has admitted beforehand that British subjects will not be entitled to a fair trial abroad and if found guilty, Feroz Abbasi and others could receive the death penalty, outlawed in our country for its barbarism. We expect 'death chambers' in undemocratic nations or repressive regimes, but not in the USA.

However, the UK government is equally unsympathetic to its citizens, plunging (Muslim) terror suspects into a legal ‘black hole’ without representation or recourse, on evidence which can be extracted under torture at Abu Ghraib and remain secret in the interest of National Security. Thus sounds the final death knell of democracy in this country.

Update January 14, 2005:

I am pleased to be reporting something positive, for a change! The British detainees at Camp X-Ray are due to be released from US custody after a surprise breakthrough was announced by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the Commons on 11th January 2005. Four days previously, I wrote a terse e-mail to the Foreign Office and forwarded it to a long list of MP’s including Tony Blair, who is said to have made a personal appeal.

The gist of my scathing words were; “It has come to light that a ‘confession’ was extracted from Feroz Abbasi in Guantanamo Bay with interrogation methods so severe that he required treatment at the prison hospital. For the United States to be torturing British subjects into admitting to bogus accusations, without charge, is a violation of human rights and international law.”

“Prior to his illegal torture, Feroz denied being an ‘enemy combatant’ or member of al Qaeda, therefore his capitulation under duress cannot be considered valid. He is clinically depressed and attempted suicide several times. If there is any vestige of decency or humanity left at the Foreign Office, you must demand his extradition to Britain, to undergo a fair trial, based on substantive evidence.”

I went on to ask; “I am interested in what you are doing, if anything, to secure the release of this UK citizen” putting the onus on politicians to explain their position. I would not be so presumptuous as to suggest that my letter prompted the government’s complete U-turn, which came like a bolt from the blue, but pressurizing political representatives works, if they are shamed for their inaction on defending civil liberties. That is their job!

The four captives, who were becoming an embarrassment to the War Cabinet, include Feroz Abbasi, 24, from Croydon, Martin Mubanga, 30, from Wembley, Richard Belmar, 25, from St John's Wood, and Moazzam Begg, 36, from Birmingham. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingston said they pose no threat to our security and he hopes the prisoners would go on to sue the US authorities for years of detention and abuse.

Livingston added, “I hope one day President Bush and those who authorised this use of low-level torture will face prosecution themselves.” This must include high-level members of the British government who were complicit in their incarceration and did not object to proposals for a secret military tribunal or even execution. There are two more UK subjects still remaining at GITMO, but they do not have citizenship.

A further 550 ‘enemy combatants’ from various nations are being held indefinitely at America’s Cuban concentration camp without charge. Those who have been freed tell tales of sexual abuse, humiliation, beatings and torture. Martin Mubanga claims marines used him like a ‘rent-boy.’ We have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib [WARNING: EXTREMELY DISTURBING PICTURES!!! - editor's note] and if this is acceptable treatment of people caught in the ‘War on Terror’ the US are the terrorists!


Britons to Confess or die.


Tip of the Iceberg of US abuses against modern concepts of justice.


Free my son


UK 'combatants' in X-Ray


Editor's Note:

See also Free Padilla, by Erik Fortman for more on the same subject.


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