- Forty years ago on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, crushed the democratically elected Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende.
Thousands of people were tortured and killed, others ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the authorities, the secret police and more were illegally detained. Men, women and children were rounded up by the military and taken from their homes. Most were never seen alive by their families again. 1 million people were forced into exile. – Chile 40 Years On network
In the UK, widespread public support against the coup was not welcomed by the Conservative government in 1973:
The shipbuilders’ union urged the government not to sell warships to Pinochet, even though losing these contracts could threaten their own jobs. The government’s response? To send spies to shipyards across Britain to check workers were not sabotaging vessels destined for Chile.
When Labour came to power in 1974, it cut off arms sales, aid and credit to Pinochet and, in 1977, withdrew the British ambassador. But existing arms contracts were to be honoured, so trade unionists took matters into their own hands. Employees at East Kilbride engineering yard in Scotland refused to fix bomber-plane engines destined for Chile, forcing Rolls Royce to break its contract with the Chilean air force. This forgotten history of solidarity will be celebrated across Britain today, the 40th anniversary of the coup.
Unsurprisingly, when Pinochet’s most prominent defender, Margaret Thatcher came to office in 1979, diplomatic relations were soon restored and arms sales resumed. Declassified papers reveal that, by June 1982, her government had sold the dictatorship: two warships, 60 blowpipe missiles, 10 Hunter Hawker bomber planes, naval pyrotechnics, communications equipment, gun sights, machine guns and ammunition. A unique attempt at a British “ethical foreign policy” had ended.
- On 11th January, 2002, the first 20 illegally-detained prisoners were delivered to cages at Guantanamo Bay: over 11 years later, the US is still holding 164 prisoners in extrajudicial detainment illegal under international law.
- Since 12th July 2005, it has been publicly known that the US government authorised US soldiers to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners: US soldiers also tortured prisoners in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the US military is also linked to the use of torture in Iraqi-run prisons.
In 2007, Wikileaks published the protocol manual for the US army at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta. The manual included a designated list of prisoners to be off-limits to the International Committee of the Red Cross – while the US government and military had claimed all along that all prisoners held in Gitmo could be visited by Red Cross representatives: and in April 2011, Wikileaks published the US military’s secret files on 779 detainees. President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay, and never has.
In 2010, Wikileaks made available to selected media outlets a huge log of every Iraqi death recorded by the coalition forces (Multi-National Forces Iraq) in Iraq between January 2004 and December 2009. As Jacob Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, pointed out: the deaths over five years is still an undercount.
- The database records 109,032 deaths in total for the period
- The database records the following death counts: 66,081 civilians, 23,984 insurgents and 15,196 Iraqi security forces
Nearly a year ago the last convoy of US soldiers pulled out of Iraq, and now President Obama uses drones to kill people with even less oversight than in Iraq.
Barack Obama will be a two-term President.
How do you know?
Because he came out in support of same-sex marriage two days ago.
Yes, well. Let me explain.
Barack Obama and David Cameron have little in common. But they are politically on the same page. Continue reading
On 11th January 2011, the first 20 prisoners arrived at Guantánamo Bay. Hundreds of prisoners have been airlifted there since. 171 prisoners are still there. 88 of those men have been cleared for release, but a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that bans all future transfers from Guantanamo Bay and gives the US the lawful power to hold these men – or indeed anyone at all – indefinitely without due process. There is no indication that at a national level either the Democratic or Republican Party in the US wishes to close down Guantanamo Bay or the other offshore prisons where people can be held indefinitely: these are perceived as a useful, even a necessary resource.
Here’s how that first airlift is described in ABCNEWS at the time:
U.S. forces took their first group of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners out of Afghanistan today, marching a group of 20 shackled, hooded prisoners onto an U.S. Air Force C-17 and taking off from Kandahar airport.
The prisoners are expected to be flown to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where they will be loaded onto a C-141 equipped for prisoner transport to Guantanamo Bay, due to arrive on Friday.
The prisoners were all chained together and outnumbered 2-to-1 by guards armed with stun guns.
Pentagon officials told ABCNEWS the prisoners might be sedated if necessary, and reports from a number of media outlets, including USA Today, said they would be chained to their seats, forced to use portable urinals and fed by their guards.
Today, prisoners at Guantánamo will embark on a peaceful protest, involving sit-ins and hunger strikes, to protest about their continued detention, and the continued existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, three years after President Obama came to office promising to close it within a year, and to show their appreciation of the protests being mounted on their behalf by US citizens, who are gathering in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to stage a rally and march to urge the President to fulfill his broken promise.
In December 2001, the US government announced that the “worst of the worst” of the prisoners of war taken in Afghanistan (whom they claimed were none of them covered by Article Four of the Geneva Convention and could not be allowed the rights specified in the Geneva Convention) were to be sent to a specially-built prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, the US miltary’s private plot of territory on Cuba, beyond the reach of law.
On 11th January 2002, ten years ago tomorrow, the first 20 prisoners arrived.