Jun 6, 2005
In its latest annual report, Amnesty International indicted the U.S. as the year's worst violator of human rights. As Amnesty's Secretary General Irene Khan pointed out, " The U.S., as the unrivaled political, military and economic super-power, sets the tone of government behavior worldwide."This well-known human rights group specifically criticized the following behavior: "While the U.S. government is pursuing a public relations exercise to persuade the world that what the Abu Ghraib photographs revealed was a small problem that has now been fixed, thousands of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and secret locations elsewhere remain at risk of torture or ill-treatment.... More than a year after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. courts have the jurisdiction to consider appeals for the detainees held in the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, not a single detainee held there has had the lawfulness of his detention judicially reviewed."Like other repressive regimes criticized by Amnesty International, U.S. officials pretended to be indignant. "Absurd," said President Bush. It is the product of people who "hate America." "Frankly, I was offended by it," said the suddenly sensitive Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Administration officials were particularly annoyed that Amnesty International described the prison at Guantanamo Bay as a "gulag" – the notorious forced-labor camps in Siberia used during the Stalin regime to persecute opponents.
In fact, "gulag" barely describes the situation. It is not just at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan that thousands of people are abused, tortured and sometimes murdered. And it's not just this year. With the help of vicious local dictators and their armies, funded and supported by the U.S. government, U.S. corporations have imposed starvation wages on laborers in poor countries around the world. Using the repressive methods seen at Guantanamo – and much worse – the U.S. has turned entire countries into little more than forced labor camps for entire populations.