December 3, 2016

Global Thinking: Gitmo hinders US foreign policy, North Korea keeps prisoner

Every once in a while you may read a headline about an American tourist, spy, veteran, hiker, etc. arrested or captured by a far away country’s government.  You may say to yourself something like, ‘those damn heathens and their evil ways.’ But you needn’t look any further than an American detainment camp for something far more sinister.

Korean War Veteran Merill Newman was detained by the North Korean government (Pyongyang) as he prepared to leave North Korea last week. Since then, the U.S. government has pled with North Korea to release the 85-year-old veteran.

While I hope this war veteran returns home safe and sound as soon as possible, the U.S. comes off about as incredibly hypocritical when they ask countries to release prisoners. Since 2002, Guantanamo Bay has housed “enemy combatants” against their will, guilty or not. So it seems a little backwards to ask countries to release our citizens when we have 164 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to this day, according to the New York Times.

Americans must look inward to understand why Americans are not the good guys in any situation involving foreign detainees. First and foremost; we have to understand that we, as Americans, are the hypocrites.

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel has been detained in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. In 2010 he was cleared by the Guantanamo Review Task Force to be transferred to Yemen, but remains in Gitmo. Earlier this year Moqbel and 106 other detainees went on a hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment.

“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone,” wrote Moqbel, in a op-ed contributing piece to the New York Times last April.

This is happening in an American detainment camp. Americans are doing this to a human being who hasn’t been found guilty, or charged with a crime.

People may read headlines and think, ‘damn those Iranians and North Koreans and Cubans and Syrians and so on for taking Americans hostage.’ I don’t argue with that. Americans should never have to accept being a prisoner of war in a war they aren’t even fighting in. But Capitol Hill cannot expect sympathy from other nations when atrocities still take place at Guantanamo Bay to this day. I believe people like to think our hands are clean in all of this, but it’s well documented that the U.S. detains innocent people in Guantanamo Bay on mere suspicions.

Guantanamo Bay makes me, as an American, step back and rethink what being an American is all about.  We’re supposed to be about freedom and democracy. Not just the rights of a few, but for anyone who comes to the U.S. searching for freedom. Instead, we take people from their homes that are guilty of nothing we can prove and hold them for years at a time, forcing tubes up their noses when they resist food because they would greet death with a smile.

This isn’t freedom.

164 souls remain in Guantanamo Bay to this day. I’m not saying all of them are innocent, or that even half of them aren’t guilty, I don’t know that. But what I am saying is that something needs to be done. Opposition in congress is not even close to a valid excuse. It’s time to shut down the factory of horrors that is Guantanamo Bay, only then can we legitimately complain when places like North Korea take American prisoners.

 

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