Op-Ed: American shame — 10 years of Guantanamo

Posted Jan 2, 2012 by Alessio Fratticcioli
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp was established in 2002 by the Bush Administration to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan (and later Iraq). It hosts hundreds of persons imprisoned, interrogated and held without charge or trial.
Detainees sit in the recreation yard. Guantanamo detention center on Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for enemy combatants captured in the global war on terrorism.
Photos by Sgt. Sara Wood, U.S. Army
Each prisoner costs $ 800.000 a year to the US taxpayer, 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.
Human rights groups argue that indefinite detention constitutes torture. Moreover, prisoners complain physical torture, sexual degradation, forced drugging and religious persecution. Red Cross inspectors have alleged acts of torture consisting in sleep deprivation, beatings and locking in confined and cold cells.
As a result, dozens of detainees ended up committing suicide, which Amnesty International said "are the tragic results of years of arbitrary and indefinite detention." Guantanamo's survivors suffer lasting effects to their mental and physical health.
After the UN called unsuccessfully for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be closed, one judge observed: "America's idea of what is torture ... does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations."
In 2011 Wikileaks released more than 700 leaked secret files, proving that innocent people were interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts and that even minors, elderly and mentally ill were among those wrongfully held.
The Cuban government claims sovereignty over the territory of Guantanamo, located in the southeastern end of the island of Cuba, which the US leased in 1903. Since 1960, a year after coming to power, Fidel Castro has refused the annual lease payment of $ 5000 from Washington.
During the 2008 presidential campaign Obama promised to close the Guantanamo detention camp, but he later failed to keep his word. After ten years from its establishment, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is still running. It is a shameful symbol of Western hypocrisy.