As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Silent Riot At Bagram

From the did you know file, did you know that the United States continues to operate, and assert the legality of operating, a detention facility that indefinitely locks up suspects without charging them? No, not Guantanamo, which the President has vowed to close. I'm talking about Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, which is not merely a POW facility but which ships in terror suspects from all over the world and confines them in a legal black hole. There is little knowledge of this or outcry about it in the United States, but the prisoners themselves have begun acts of civil disobedience.

The prisoners at the largest U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan have refused to leave their cells for at least the past two weeks to protest their indefinite imprisonment, according to lawyers and the families of detainees.

The prison-wide protest, which has been going on since at least July 1, offers a rare glimpse inside a facility that is even more closed off to the public than the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Information about the protest came to light when the International Committee of the Red Cross informed the families of several detainees that scheduled video teleconferences and family visits were being canceled.

Representatives of the ICRC, which monitors the treatment of detainees and arranges the calls, last visited the Bagram prison on July 5, but inmates were unwilling to meet with them.

"We have suspended our video telephone conference and family visit programs because the detainees have informed us they do not wish to participate in the programs for the time being," said Bernard Barrett, a spokesman for the organization.

The 620 prisoners at Bagram, more than twice that of Guantanamo, have no access to attorneys. The facility is being rebuilt to hold even more prisoners, up to 1,000. And at least over three dozen of them have been captured around the world and transferred to Bagram, with no connection whatsoever to the war in Afghanistan.

This is a blight on our country, we must deal with the human rights and legal abuses at all of our detention facilities, including Bagram. What's disgusting is that the prisoners are more actively engaged in this than almost anyone in this country.

...and then you have people like Lindsey Graham, who thinks we should hold detainees without charges "until they die."

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