Friday, January 26, 2007

A day late for Burns' Night

Ah shouldnae have run o'er that moose
Ah've gone and wreckt his little hoose
But if I turn him inside oot, observe:
Yon tiny haggis maks a braw hors d'oeurve.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Torture is bad, and I can't believe I had to say that

Guantanamo Bay isn't funny.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the first prisoners being sent there. I took part in a protest, about 40 of us marching from the American Consulate to parliament in orange boiler suits. Then we went into a meeting in the Parliament chaired by Tommy Sheridan, where a film was shown about Guantanamo Bay, other US-run prisons and torture camps around the world, and "extraordinary rendition", which means flying prisoners around from camp to camp and torturing them.

The film included an interview with one former Guantanamo detainee, and the brother of a current detainee who had somehow got some declassified letters from him. They went into detail about the methods of torture used. The British press usually talk about white noise and dunking in water and being made to stand still for four hours, but the people who have been there assure us that the preferred method is an old-fashioned knife in the private parts. The CIA's method of investigating a terrorist network is to show their captive a picture of someone they've never seen, and torture them until they make up a terrorist plot that the two of them did together. Something striking here is that, if they're going to behave in such an inhuman, paranoid way anyway, they bother getting the 'confession' at all, rather than just picking up the next guy. That kind of perverse respect for imaginary law is what takes us out of ordinary cruelty and into psychopathy.

Please, please do what you can to close Guantanamo Bay. For most of us that is almost nothing, but do it. Write to whoever represents you in your government, or go on the next protest, or blog about it, or something. Even if you think it is utterly futile. Even if it is. Please.

I knew, of course, that protesting against torture and indefinite detention without trial would get us called unelected, middle class pressure groups trying to justify their existences. Yesterday morning I took a kind of sanctimonious pride in that. Today, I just feel sick.