Closure of Guantanamo Bay: Ending the Violent Practices
In the modern day world, society has become accustomed to the fear and anger of terrorism. While it may not be prominent in many countries, the topic of terrorism in high-risk countries, such as Iran or Afghanistan, is much more noticeable. In the United States, the government has its own way of handling terrorists: Guantanamo Bay. Founded in 2002, according to Britannica School, it is a camp where “Muslim militants and suspected terrorists” are brought to, mainly to be interrogated for information about terrorist groups and their future actions or plans. In reality, Guantanamo Bay displays a darker side, as the prison is well known for the horror rather than the good. Over the years, the U.S. has received a bad reputation due to Guantanamo, as many human activist groups and foreign countries have condemned Gitmo for its sickening actions. While some may assume that keeping the infamous camp will be the best option for housing these terrorists, the closure of Guantanamo Bay brings the end of abuse, torture, injustice, and unnecessary spending of government funds.
When people first hear of Gitmo, they are often reminded of the horrific actions that America’s government has placed on these detainees. Although some may argue that torture is the best option for these supposed terrorists, it draws a line at how harsh these acts of misery are used upon these people. One of the most controversial methods of abuse has been through the detainees’ hunger strikes, where medical authorities at the camp administer force-feeding. In an open letter, released by the Guardian, detainees express the pain that they face when having a tube inserted into the nose and/or mouth, quoting that the “process of having a tube repeatedly forced up our noses and down our throats […] to keep us in a state of semi-starvation is extremely painful and the conditions under which it is done are abusive” (Chekkouri, et al.). They are fed against their own will, sometimes choking on the nutrients supplied by the medical authorities. Many detainees who are force-fed do not have the option to opt out, attempting to squirm away from the tubes that would eventually go down their systems. Restraining into chains or held down by officers, this type of abuse can bring lasting pain and torture that no human should go through. The pain brought onto Gitmo prisoners has led to traumatization, as many are confined and tormented. In an interview with Guantanamo ex-detainees by Vice News, Ruhal Ahmed talks about his experience at the detention camp. He mentions how “some detainees were […] physically strong enough to overcome it and move on with their lives […] some detainees weren’t. A lot of them tried to commit suicide […]”, citing how their health deteriorated as time went by imprisoned inside of the torment-filled prison (Ahmed 3:16). Their mental health is ruined as they are faced with humiliation, such as force-feeding and choking on tears or being chained and tortured to share information they may or may not have. Some believed that suicide was the only way to end the pain and psychological torture, thus the numerous suicides and suicide attempts made from the camps. For such a troubling prison with supposed dangerous terrorists, the suffering enforced on these detainees crosses the line of human rights.
Guantanamo Bay is infamous for hosting the world’s most dangerous terrorists. In reality, this is evidently false, as many of the detainees from the camp have no connection or evidence linking them to any form of terrorism. This results in many being falsely imprisoned and, with the lack of trials, forces these detainees to be held for years with no valid reason. Some, indeed, are notable terrorists, but most have no association with terrorism itself. In fact, it is also reported that “The Pentagon’s own files suggest that the military made numerous mistakes in sending people to Guantanamo and detaining them there without charges or trials” (Fisher). The newspaper later mentions how many of these detainees were not obtained from battlefields, but rather, from the streets and locations throughout Europe/Middle East, with no reasoning. From this, the U.S. government wastes thousands, even millions, of dollars on innocent detainees waiting for a fair trial and freedom. Without the availability of a trial or charges faced against them, many undergo a harsh lifestyle at Guantanamo Bay, something that many do not deserve. Some are also unaware of the reason why they are stuck in Gitmo since many are transferred with no explanation. One of the detainees in a group called Bosnian Six discovered that he was placed into Gitmo because he was accused of conspiring to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. He expresses his affliction at the time and quotes that “these accusations were just told to me […] Not even one mentioned the embassy thing, the terrorist organization, [and] the Algerian Islamic organization” (Fisher). Without knowing why they are detained in Guantanamo, they can barely defend themselves of their actions. They are forced to wait for months, sometimes years, to find out what they are being convicted for. In some scenarios, these circumstances are deemed false, causing them to waste months of their lives in prison. With no known information of their conviction and waiting years for a trial, this time could have been used to pile up evidence and defend themselves with the help of lawyers, but many find out their convictions long after they are sent to Gitmo. Guantanamo Bay is not only a prison for terrorists but a place where innocent people are held captive for years with no reason given.
Guantanamo Bay is extremely costly to maintain, staffing over 1,800 troops and medical advisors, along with the 40 detainees. Colonel Morris David, a former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, state in an interview that America “invested roughly $6.5bn on detention in Guantanamo Bay […]”, and also comments how “[the detainees] could have been housed in federal prison for a fraction of the cost” (Borger and Smith). Critics have reported that the money used on Gitmo could have been directed towards other programs, such as education or veterans. Most of the reported 6 billion dollars have been towards the prisoners and, in recent years, has escalated to “$11 million per prisoner per year” (Rosenberg). The 6.5 billion dollars is a waste of money for the American government and its citizens, as these prisoners could be transferred to other prisons or back to their home countries. In the scenario where their home country will not accept them, there are a number of supermax prisons that hold dangerous terrorists like the ones in Guantanamo, all for a fraction of the cost. Throughout its history, a majority of the detainees have been transferred to other prisons/countries throughout the years, making the option possible for the remaining 40 to transfer. The closure of Guantanamo Bay saves millions of dollars for the future, allowing the saved money to be used in fundamental and needed programs.
Many Americans believe that Guantanamo Bay is necessary for keeping the nation safe from terrorism in the future. By housing dangerous criminals coming from terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda or ISIS, it keeps the United States safe from attacks. By shutting down the detention camp and releasing these terrorists, they will continue to threaten other countries again. Nevertheless, Guantanamo does not only contain terrorists. As mentioned, a majority of these detainees are innocent and tend to have no involvement with terrorism. Some have expressed how they were taken off the streets, rather than a war zone filled with terror. Many have criticized how innocent detainees “were not captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan, but kidnapped off the streets of Europe […]”, while others were “‘sold’ to U.S. authorities […] for bounties” (Fisher). Without a fair trial, these individuals are locked up for years, going through insane pain and humiliation by the staff at Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. government. With a large number of detainees held at the camp, it racks up to millions of dollars wasted over the years and could have easily been solved by a legal trial with sufficient evidence. In the situation of terrorists, both the Bush and Obama administration have shown that it is possible to relocate them to other supermax prisons in the United States, saving resources through each transfer. In conclusion, Guantanamo Bay is a symbol of human abuse for America.
Overall, ending Guantanamo Bay would allow the United States to end its practice of inhumane torture, allow the innocent to be set free, and save precious resources. The physical and mental trauma from Gitmo placed on innocent civilians would end, such as force-feeding, giving a chance for the U.S. to maintain the money used for Gitmo to be used in other situations. Opposers argue that a prison like Guantanamo is necessary to protect the nation, but it is not worth the money and suffering that sticks with this notorious prison.
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