Close Gitmo

Feb 192006
Authors: Ben Bleckley

PDF of UN report

Human rights investigators from the United Nations called on the United States to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison last Thursday.

The request stems from a U.N. report that classifies many of the interrogation practices there as torture.

The U.N. report was based on interviews with former detainees and publicized information. The chairperson and four special rapporteurs who investigated and wrote the report were prohibited by the United States to interview current detainees.

According to the New York Times, the White House dismissed the report, "suggesting that the investigators had based their conclusions on false information spread by terror suspects."

"We know that al Qaeda detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations," said Scott McClellan, White House press secretary.

Former detainees have nothing to gain by spreading false information about conditions at Guantanamo Bay. And if they are still terror suspects, in fact members of al Qaeda, why were they voluntarily released?

According to the report, which readers can find a copy of with this article at, approximately 520 detainees are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Only 17 have been designated by President Bush as eligible for trial. Of those 17, three have been transferred to their country of origin and released.

The report finds that numerous practices amount to human rights violations, including the removal of the Quran from detainees, the hooding of detainees during interrogation, the forced feeding of detainees using nasal-gastro tubes and the prolonged, indefinite imprisonment without a quick trial of chance of release, among others.

The report stated that some of these, such as the forced feeding of detainees on hunger strike, amount to torture.

In 2002, this columnist aided in the insertion of a nasal-gastro tube to deliver activated charcoal to the victim of an overdose. Even when completed by an experienced medical professional, insertion of the tube causes pain and extreme discomfort, and sometimes severe nosebleeds. Removal of the tube causes gagging and sometimes vomiting. This is on a person receiving the treatment voluntarily.

Some might argue that the United Nations does not hold authority over the U.S. and we should not heed a report published by that body.

While that may be true, it is ironic that our own Eleanor Roosevelt was the elected head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and spearheaded the drafting and adoption of the International Declaration of Human Rights. But there's a greater reason why we need to heed this report.

I'm completing my student teaching this semester at Boltz Junior High School. On Tuesday we begin a unit on the book "Night" by Elie Weisel. Along with teaching students about the Holocaust, we will also touch on propaganda and the Japanese internment camps in the United States. We will address this issue because it was a humiliating event in U.S. history because we as a nation regret it, and we don't want it to happen again.

Will we regret the Guantanamo Bay detainment center in 50 years?

We should not release detainees who are members of al Qaeda. We should not release detainees who can still provide us with reliable information on terrorist activities. We should not release detainees who we can prove are terrorists. But we must release all 400 plus detainees who do not fit into these three categories.

Ben Bleckley is a senior majoring in English. His column runs Mondays in the Collegian.

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