Friday, February 17, 2006

Tutu: Gitmo is New South Africa

Remember when the United States was respected and admired for its openness and justice? Where did that country go? Why are we not marching in the streets?

From the BBC:

Tutu calls for Guantanamo closure

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined in the growing chorus of condemnation of America's Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

He said the detention camp was a stain on the character of the United States as a superpower and a democracy.

He also attacked Britain's 28-day detention period for terror suspects, calling it excessive and untenable.

His comments follow a UN report calling for the closure of the camp where some 500 "enemy combatants" have been held without trial for up to four years.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Archbishop Tutu said he was alarmed that arguments used by the South African apartheid regime are now being used to justify anti-terror measures.

"It is disgraceful and one cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted," he said.

The respected clergyman said the rule of law had been "subverted horrendously" and he described the muted public outcry - particularly in America - as "saddening".

Only a handful of the approximately 500 detainees have been tried

Archbishop Tutu also attacked Tony Blair's failed attempt to hold terrorist suspects in Britain for up to 90 days without charge.

"Ninety days for a South African is an awful deja-vu because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention law," he said.

Under apartheid, as at Guantanamo, people were held for "unconscionably long periods" and then released, he said.

"Are you able to restore to those people the time when their freedom was denied them? If you have evidence for goodness sake produce it in a court of law," he said.

"People with power have an incredible capacity for wanting to be able to retain that power and don't like scrutiny."

The America I grew up in would never do what the Bush administration has done to people. America is not a police state. It is not a dictatorship. It is not a monarchy. At least it wasn't. America, as viewed by most of the world, is no longer a great and free country.