Sunday, November 29, 2009

USA Continues Torture At Bagram "Black Jail"

MY GUESS IS THAT THERE AREN'T MANY PEOPLE LEFT on the planet who would be surprised if they were told that the United States of America engages in torture. Even the media has had to provide coverage of such brutality from Bagram in 2002, where soldiers beat prisoners to death, to Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Nonetheless, it is important that revelations continue - especially coming at this moment when torture scandals have exploded in Canada and Britain, and key military and political figures have had to resign in Germany. The populations in NATO countries need to be constantly reminded that what we are doing over there is dehumanizing and degrading the people of Afghanistan as part of a colonial project related to US dominated geo-politics. And to read the accounts of two boys tortured at a secret "black jail" at Bagram Air Base - where even the Red Cross has been denied access - there can be no doubt that it is about dehumanization. Rashid, a 15-year old woodcutter from Khost Province described his stay in an interview with the Washington Post:
At the beginning of his detention, he was forced to strip naked and undergo a medical checkup in front of about a half-dozen American soldiers. He said that his Muslim upbringing made such a display humiliating and that the soldiers made it worse.
"They touched me all over my body. They took pictures, and they were laughing and laughing," he said. "They were doing everything."
He said he lived in a small concrete cell that was slightly longer than the length of his body. Food was tossed in a plastic bag through a slot in the metal door. Both teenagers said that when they tried to sleep, on the floor, their captors shouted at them and hammered on their cells.
When summoned for daily interrogations, Rashid said, he was made to wear a hood, handcuffs and ear coverings and was marched into the meeting room. He said he was punched by his interrogators while being prodded to admit ties to the Taliban; he denied such ties. During some sessions, he said, his interrogator forced him to look at pornographic movies and magazines while also showing him a photograph of his mother.
"I was just crying and crying. I was too young," Rashid said. "I didn't know what a prison looks like or what a prison is."
 In a follow-up article in the New York Times, other detainees of the black jail describe harsh treatment over extended periods, including not being allowed representation or to contact their families who spent small fortunes trying to find them. One former prisoner said that the US military released him after a year with a simple "sorry, we thought you were somebody else."
With treatment like this being widespread, whether through President Karzai's warlord government, or directly via the occupying countries, it doesn't take a rocket science to figure out why the insurgency is growing and spreading so that even once peaceful provinces, like Kunduz in the north, are now coming under the sway of the insurgency.
With Obama set to announce another 35,000 troops to be sent to Afghanistan this week, we should keep this in mind. US and NATO troops have not brought an ounce of liberation to this war-torn country. They have simply participated in brutality and in propping up a regime no less vicious - and probably more corrupt - than the Taliban before them.
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