The Nature of U.S. Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan

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The U.S. logic behind keeping prisoners for decades without charges or trial

By Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA)

The U.S. government, in addition to detaining thousands of Afghans, has also detained hundreds other non-Afghan nationals. Since 2002, they have been passing their lives in several awful prisons in Afghanistan, including Bagram near Kabul city, without charges and trial.

The Bagram prison, which was established in 2002 under the U.S. in Afghanistan, is known as one of the world’s most dreadful prisons. The basic human rights of prisoners are systematically and openly violated by military forces, diplomats, and judicial authorities. The prisoners are deprived of contact with their families and friends, and outside the prison’s world.

Lack of access to a defense lawyer, court trial and other legal assistance, and keeping detainees even after their sentence period has expired are some examples of the U.S. authorities’ “commitment to human rights.” Human rights organizations have no right to access the detention sites under U.S. control in Afghanistan. Those that do get to visit a small and well-decorated site of the compound still blame U.S. authorities for violation of the prisoners’ rights. Violations include physical and spiritual torture, beatings, electric shocks, hanging prisoners from the ceiling, drowning their heads in water (waterboarding), sleep deprivation, threatening death, sexual harassment, withholding clothes, forcing prisoner’s to walk bare foot on snow, and prolonged exposure to loud music or bright lights … Under such circumstances at U.S. prisons in Afghanistan, some of the prisoners have lost their lives, their families and have no information about their beloveds.

In March 2013, after several requests by the Afghan government, around 3,000 prisoners in Bagram were finally handed over to Afghan authorities by U.S. officials. They were identified as innocent after 4-12 years in U.S. detention in Afghanistan. Most of the detainees still do not understand the reasons behind their detention and exposure to years of long, terrible torture. Most of the prisoners are victims of incorrect information provided by the intelligence services, or a high level of bias toward any Pashtoon with a long beard and dressed in traditional clothes that he is a terrorist.

Thus, this is the real and simple logic behind the majority of Afghan prisoners in U.S. custody. Bagram, like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, is a symbol of hypocrisy and injustice. Pentagon spokesperson Todd Breasseale justifies keeping third country nationals, held by the U.S. in Bagram, as detainees under the Law of War. The same reason is used against all prisoners at Guantanamo. This absurd legal rationale allows the U.S. imperialists to hold prisoners until the end of this war against anyone outside the U.S., which Washington officials have suggested could last another 20 years! That means the judicial system of U.S. imperialism authorizes the U.S. government to imprison detainees — without any evidence or charge — for decades, or even a lifetime. But the 1949 Geneva Conventions obviously invalidates the U.S. authorities’ excuse that this is a war situation justifying mass detention and the right to repress the political detainees in their detention centers.

As in the case of Afghanistan, the Bagram prison will remain under U.S. control after the 2014 withdrawal of U.S. and NATO combat forces from Afghanistan. The biggest concern is that there is no guarantee that human rights and prisoners’ rights will be observed while the U.S. hands over the Afghan prisoners to Afghan authorities. Because the Afghan intelligence is now a trained child of the U.S., they understand how to treat prisoners the same way as those trained in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram, since 2002. Amin Ahmadi, a member of a delegation to assess the prisoner’s situation in Afghanistan, says that the detainees with U.S. and NATO forces have been kept under the Law of War and they are detained only based on special intelligence information. He added that some of the detainees who have been identified as innocent and their cases closed by the court are still deemed dangerous and kept in detention because of the war dominated situation.

Mohammad Musa Fariwar, a law lecturer at Kabul University, expressed his view that having private prisons in Afghanistan run by the U.S. and NATO is illegal, and violates the sovereignty of the country. He urged that it is the duty of the Afghan government and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to defend their people’s rights, but at the same time, he revealed that the government of Afghanistan and the Human Rights Commission are financed by the U.S. and NATO, and that forces them to be silent.

A Bo Shirh news quote from CNN confirms that the Bagram prison is worse than Guantanamo. Anna Coren, a CNN reporter, conducted an interview with Muhammad Nasim, a man who was detained for 5 years in Bagram and Guantanamo prisons. Nasim says he was arrested based on an absurd reason — “having intention to attack Bagram air base” — and detained in Bagram for 5 months before being transferred to Guantanamo. He explained he was hung downward from the ceiling, had his head beaten into the wall, and was deprived of sleep for one week. He added that these tortures were unbearable and forced him to think about committing suicide. Nasim was released after 4½ years and was just told they were “sorry!” He disappointingly said that he was away from his children and family and the American authorities took away 5 years of his life for nothing.

The absurd Law of War allows the U.S. government to arrest suspicious people and keep them for decades without evidence, and shows the real face of U.S. human rights values and justice towards people from other nations. Due to cultural values, some Afghan victims of the inhuman U.S. policies never expose what happened to them during their detention period. Many of the released detainees feel fearful to speak
about the crimes in U.S. prisons in Afghanistan. But some of the detainees, who were not terrorists at all and were eventually released after several years, had no way to cope except to join the resistance to the occupation to compensate for their devastated lives, pain, and wounds imposed by U.S. authorities in their illegal prisons.

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