I really, really urge you all to read this article that appeared in Rolling Stone, The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr, and while you do, consider that the United States government is currently succeeding in making torture legal, and that as citizens of countries that are engaged in a war in which torture is a normal and acceptable outcome for “unlawful combatants”, we are personally responsible for this.
Ahmad and Wilson have filed motions in federal court seeking to enjoin the continuing torture and inhumane confinement of their client. Thus far, none has been granted. Except for a brief hiatus, Omar Khadr has been alone in a cell at Guantanamo Bay for close to four years. Four years is nearly a quarter of his life. Since he was caught, he has grown eight inches. It is nearly impossible for him to believe that he will ever be released, and his daily life remains filled with menace: He is so conditioned to abuse in captivity that he is incapable of believing he will ever be free of it.
A year and a half ago, Dr. Eric Trupin predicted that Omar Khadr would suffer serious permanent damage unless he was immediately moved into a humane detention facility, convinced that he was safe from all injury and provided with acute psychological care. Such a course of treatment, if ever administered, will come several years too late. It is possible that Omar’s mental life will progressively fracture into suicide attempts, hallucinations and paranoia. Having lived out the final years of his adolescence in Guantanamo Bay, he has learned nothing about the conventions of adult life, but he has as deep an understanding of powerlessness as any person can.
It was a unique moment today, killing time between rehearsals and reading the latest issue of Dance Australia while dozing on the sofas at ADT, and in its pages mostly notable for being the Who Weekly, New Idea, and Girlfriend of ballet and contemporary dance in Australia was the unequivocal and damning repudiation of the Australian Government’s treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks, and subsequently the concise and absolute moral standing I’m more accustomed to seeing in intelligent and responsible blogs than in a magazine.
All this was for Honour Bound, choreographed by Gary Stewart and directed by Nigel Jamieson. I’ve reprinted it (as usual without permission) here because Dance Australia doesn’t have a web presence and otherwise the article will go mostly unnoticed outside of the quite specific magazine readership, and also because it’s surprising and gratifying to see such a moral and political stand being taken by a publication I usually consider a bland waste of trees.
By then he has allegedly graduated from Al Qaeda training camps and fought alongside the Taliban, but at issue here isn’t whether David is bad, mad or simply misunderstood. Every was has its justifications on every side; what is crucial for the restoration of order is the victorious power’s respect for the rule of law. In Guantanamo and elsewhere, the US government has made open mockery of its own decreed standards of decency. The 700 detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison have been denied their entitlement to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and humane treatment in incarceration. As Alfred W McCoy put it in Melbourne Magazine The Monthly in June this year, “whatever Hicks might have been before he reached Guantanamo, his four-year stint of brutal beatings, endless solitary confinement and mock trials has transformed him into an unlikely symbol for the sanctity of human rights”.