By Dr Leon Tressell
The United States and its NATO allies have weaponised the issue of human rights, using it to attack their geopolitical opponents particularly Russia and China. Sadly, the mainstream media in the West fails to point out the glaring hypocrisy of this.
In mid February, the Biden regime indicated that it was carrying out an ‘inter- agency’ review with a view to closing Guantánamo Bay by the end of the president’s term of office. This sounds eerily familiar. Barack Obama within days of taking office also promised to close the infamous prison which stills holds 40 people in detention.
The overwhelming majority of media outlets in the West carrying news of Biden’s promise fail their readers. They fail to remind their readers that the journalist, who exposed the violations of human rights committed by the US at Guantánamo Bay, is locked up in a British supermax prison.
Ten years ago WikiLeaks began its release of the infamous Gitmo files (Guantánamo Bay) for which Julian Assange faces a 40 year prison sentence if extradited to the United States.
The Gitmo files expose the systematic and routine violations of the Geneva Convention and the abuse and torture of nearly 800 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. They reveal that the United States government knowingly imprisoned 150 innocent men and boys without charge. These prisoners ranged from an 89 year old Afghan man with dementia to a 14 year old boy who had been kidnapped.
The Standard Operating Procedure manual of Camp Delta was revealed by WikiLeaks. It shows how the American military used both physical and psychological torture on prisoners. One particularly notorious technique employed by the American military was the torture technique that involved waterboarding , that is the simulated drowning of prisoners in an attempt to obtain a confession.
Investigative Journalist Andy Worthington used the Gitmo Files to expose the repeated lies of the United States government that it was not detaining children at Guantánamo Bay. Worthington’s investigations revealed at least 22 children were held at Guantánamo Bay in direct contravention of international law. The Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict emphasises “the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict.” Children should not be punished by imprisoning them alongside adult prisoners.
On 15th June 2011 Worthington observed: “It remains disgraceful that so many juveniles were held at Guantánamo — and that three former child prisoners are still held — but it is just as disgusting that, under President Obama, one of these former child prisoners was obliged to accept that, in modern-day America, lawmakers and the executive branch, without a murmur of dissent from the judiciary, have arranged for opponents of the US military in wartime to be criminalized, their actions regarded incorrectly as war crimes, and their very existence declared illegal.’’
Julian Assange a victim of Psychological Torture
Here we are ten years later and the man who helped expose these crimes now resides in a British supermax prison full of convicted murders and armed robbers.
Julian Assange is kept in solitary confinement amidst incredibly restrictive and harsh conditions. He has been denied visits from his family for over six months now. During this last winter he has been denied the warm clothing sent by his family and left to shiver in a cold prison cell against the background of a deadly global pandemic.
Julian Assange is suffering from a variety of physical and mental health conditions, yet he is expected to prepare his defence against extradition to the United Sates from his prison cell. This outrageous state of affairs has led Professor Nils Melzer, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, to call for the British government to release Julian Assange’s from prison.
On 17th April Professor Melzer spoke at the International Symposium of Parliamentarians in the case of Julian Assange. Special rapporteur Meltzer visited Julian in Belmarsh prison in May 2019 accompanied by two experts in physical and psychological torture. They each examined the WikiLeaks editor separately. The evidence gathered from these separate assessments led Professor Melzer to state unequivocally that Julian Assange was a victim of psychological torture at the hands of four states working in tandem.
During his briefing, Nils Melzer addressed parliamentarians from 40 countries and gave a damning indictment of how the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador had come together to persecute a journalist for exposing evidence of war crimes.
“What is being done here is a prosecution that is not pursuing law and justice but is pursuing political purposes. And therefore it is a persecution: it is not a prosecution. All of this hinges on the good faith of the prosecuting states and here I am talking not only about the United States, I’m also speaking of the United Kingdom. I’m speaking of Sweden. I’m speaking of Ecuador. In all of those four states in every single proceeding that happened against Julian Assange or involving his procedural rights, I can assert that as an international lawyer his procedural rights have been systematically violated in each stage of each proceeding in each jurisdiction.’’
Melzer also told parliamentarians how he had written to all four states, declaring that he had identified serious violations of human rights law in the case of Julian Assange. He further added that he had asked for those states to cooperate with his investigation. Melzer pointed out that all four states refused to engage in any kind of constructive dialogue with him.
It is possible that in May the High Court in London will begin to hear the appeal of the Biden regime against the January court decision not to extradite Julian Assange to the US.
Now more than ever it is vitally important that ordinary people across the world take actions to support a journalist who is threatened with 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes, torture and corruption.
The Labour Party leadership must end its shameful silence over this case and demand that the UK government comply with its obligations under international human rights law and release Assange from prison.
You can make a donation to the legal defence of Julian Assange here
Leon Tressell is a geo-political historian who has written extensively about the new Cold War between the US and Russia/China as well as the persecution of whistle blowers such as Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
Image: Author: Val Brown, London Guantánamo Campaign
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