So as you may or may not know, the US is sending all Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners to their military base in Guantanmo bay (in Cuba). These prisoners are being kept shackled in cells that are roughly 1.8 M by 2.4 M. In addition, these prisoners have been shaved. What’s also of interest is that the US claims that these are NOT Prisoners of War, and as such, do not gain the protection of the Geneva convention. Their claim is that, these prisoners, not being representatives of a foreign government, have nowhere to be handed over to. They also content that the prisoners are being treated well. I’m willing, for argument’s sake, to allow that the Al-Qaeda forces are not agents of a government. But let me ask you: Just what goverment was it then that was in power in Afghanistan? According to the US, not the Taliban, because if they were, the US would be in contravention of the Geneva convention. Which of course, they are. And why is that the US wants to keep these prisoners, rather than return them? I don’t know. My guess is that they want to be able to interrogate them to their heart’s content. And why Guantanamo Bay, rather than mainland USA? My guess is because it wil be just that much harder for the public to learn how exactly the prisoners are being treated there, and being there also puts the military out of sight of the American justice system.
What has become of concern to me is that Canadian troops are operating under US command while in Afghanistan. That means in theory, that they will be handing over these prisoners to the US. However, Ottawa has said that they will not. So will Canada simply not take POWs? I’m fine with that. On the other hand, I heard last night on the news, and I don’t know which politician it was, the following quote ‘Canadians would rather see a 1000 shackled taliban prisoners in Cuba than 1 Canadian to die at their hands’. You know what? I completely disagree with statement. This valuing Canadian lives over those of Afghani lives is just sickening. A life is a life. Everyone, regardless of origin deserves the sames rights and protections. And if Canada summarily follows the US as it contravenes and ignores the dictates of the Geneva convention, what would prevent the same from occuring to a Canadian prisoner taken by someone else? In Afghanistan, for example, where, as there is not actually a ‘war’, any prisoner taken by the remaining Taliban and Al-Qaeda could legally, under international law then, capture and do what they will with any prisoner, as they would not be POWs, and as such, not covered by the Geneva convention.