Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fearing the Night

…I moan for the children in their innocence

Who are forced, too quickly, to experience

The burning sands of the desert and

The inhumanity of man to man...

But still I say: there will come a better day!

& these insanities will be washed away!

These concluding lines of a sonnette composed by an unknown poet from the Third Galaxy are dedicated as a sort of prayer for Mohammed Al Gharani. This boy was 14 years old when he received, without trial, a sentence of undetermined length to a maximum security prison for reasons no one knows, least of all himself or the lawyer who is trying to help him.

Last week, three men hung themselves in that very same prison. They had been held there, without charge, for over four years by the government of the United States of America. The un-admirable admiral who is the warden of that prison called their suicide “…warfare against the United States”. I ended yesterday’s post by quoting some brilliantly bitter satire from the keyboard of Jonathan Schwarz.

Today I post excerpts from a letter I wrote to Zachary Katznelson of Reprieve in response to his latest article on Common Dreams.

Dear Zachary,

I want to thank you…for writing about how the gov't keeps prisoners without writ or warrant or anything that even resembles due process…

As you may well know, June has been declared by several organizations as Torture Awareness Month, and of course the 26th of June has been a UN day for remembering survivors and victims of torture since 1987 (think I got the year right!)

.…something I have learned these past two weeks is that there is a grave misunderstanding in the public mind as to what constitutes torture -- usually given as a scale of various ways people can abuse other human beings. I think this misses the point entirely.

…my working definition at the moment: Mistreatment of people you have under your total control is torture. All other definitions such as "torture is permanent damage" or "organ failure" are utter and complete bullshit.

The key is when people are under your control. I remember when the Abu Ghrib finally surfaced in the mainstream media after bubbling on the internet for half a year. Then came the glib, in fact monstrous remarks that it wasn't much worse than "fraternity hazing" -- this is ridiculous! Prospective frat boys want to get in, so what's a cigarette burn or two between friends?. I haven't seen any polls, but I assume most prisoners would, if asked, like to get out, even if the mistreatment they received was "only" some euphemism as ”restriction of caloric intake".

Kind regards,

Chuck Cliff


p.s. Please, if possible [and if you can] let Mohammed Al Gharani know there are people in the world who wish him well.

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