Addressing Problems around the Controversial Guantánamo Bay Prison

Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:12 WIB

It has become truism to remark that Guantánamo is the Supermax prisons in the United States and also manifest space that reflects many dark site prisons of the 21st century. It is part of the black 11 September’s further impacts. In other words, the prison that located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba and established in January 2002 under Bush Administration, should be understood based on the background of the Global War on Terror after the 9/11 tragedy. Undoubtedly, this is an important issue to be discussed.

Immediate reactions of American to unify and love and support together has shifted their focus because of the 9/11 tragedy. In this sense, their focus is no longer love of countrymen, but look for someone to blame for all that happened. Then, informations related to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden become their main focus.  The war on teror began and religion has swapt into this hole. Much of American do not really know about what happened at that time, most of them hatred of religion, but actually many people just don’t know anything about it. Therefore, the existence of Guantanamo Bay Prison can not be separated from certain prejudices. It seems that the prejudices definitely rose from education and exposures of most peaceful form of religion.

Diana Murtaugh Coleman, a Doctoral Candidate in Religious Studies at Arizona State University, presented this interesting point. On Wednesday, 11 September 2013, Coleman become speaker at CRCS-ICRS Wed-Forum. She has spent several summers in Southeast Asia, both as a Luce Fellow and in her role as a graduate research assistant for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. The presentation is based on her dissertation project on the presence of religious discourses and ideologies in the legitimatization of disappearances, torture, and imprisonment at Guantanamo. She visits many countries to meet with scholars, activists, and survivors of state sponsored terrorism in her efforts to understand how individuals and societies negotiate and remember state violence executed in the name of security, order, cleansing, and identity.

In this enlightening talk, she offered a brief history introducing several case studies of former prisoners and former guards, and explore the broader implications of Guantánamo and other extrajudicial spaces. Several questions that be addressed include “How did this group of prisoners, all Muslim, but from diverse cultural backgrounds create meaning and community in these extremely difficult conditions? How did they understand what was happening to them in religious/theological terms? What kind of futures are available to them as they are released, and what ties are maintained between former prisoners (and former guards)? What kind of moral repair needs to be done on the part of the United States for those subjected to the unforgivable?”

Throghout the talk, she warmly welcome feedbacks from audiences. Furthermore, Coleman brilliantly explained history of Guantanamo in Cuba. In this regard, she emphasizes historical settings of the camp by describing that the United States used portions of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for temporary housing of Cuban and Haitian refugees intercepted on the high seas from the 1970s onward, as many were trying to get from the Caribbean to the United States. She mentioned that “the United States has operated a military base in Cuba for over 100 years. In the 1990s, the base was used to house Haitian refugees. In the 21st century the base has become infamous as an extrajudicial space where 779 men (and teenagers) from 45 countries around the world have languished, (and 164 still do) largely without due legal process.”  

Coleman convincingly claimed that the prison is again human rights law, but the u.s. still do it. She comprehensively explained controversies around The Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Most of prisoners come from the Afghanistan, Pakistan Iraq, and other countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. The Bush administration denied many reports mentioning that have reported abuse and torture to its prisoners. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has failed to close the controversial camp. He signed an order to suspend proceedings at Guantanamo military commission for 120 days and shut down the detention facility that year.

Coleman brilliantly addressed religious issues under this topic by telling the controversy that all of the prisoners are Muslim, but the U.S. government has claimed that they respect all religious and cultural sensitivities. In other words, one can argue that one of allegations of abuse at the camp is the abuse of the religion of the prisoners.

Then, Coleman described that supporters of controversial techniques have declared that certain protections of the Third Geneva Convention do not apply to Al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters. In consequence, some prisoners claim that they are being subjected to routine religious humiliation at the Guantanamo Bay. Moreover, the U.S government released many of innocent prisoners, but many of the Guantanamo’s ex-prisoners suffer lingering physical harm or post-traumatic stress. Additionally, the condition that we should anticipate is most of the prisoners get less support, and isolated from society. For instance, this less anticipated condition may make them tend to back to extremist activities. (admin,che)