Language Games and the Denial of Human Rights in Guantanamo Bay and the Right to Protest in England, 2021
‘‘The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.’’
— Martin Luther King Jr.
On 11 February 2021, President Joe Biden announced a review of plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp by the end of his term. At the time, there were 40 prisoners at the camp, most of whom had been held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried. As of January 2021, 731 of the 780 people detained were transferred, 40 remain and 9 died while in custody.
The camp was established by US President George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 during the War on Terror following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Indefinite detention without trial and torture led the operations of this camp to be considered a major breach of human rights by Amnesty International and a violation of Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution.
Since the release of many of these prisoners from Guantanamo there have been a plethora of books and interviews regarding their brutal and inhumane treatment — torture — at the hands of the American personnel and in the case of the Tipton Three with the alleged connivance of British Intelligence personnel. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions, while also claiming it was treating “all detainees consistently with the principles of the Geneva Convention.” So which statement is true? They cannot both be true.
That ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ or torture as most of us would call it was taking place at Guantanamo Bay in contravention of the third convention is now an established fact. The recent film ‘The Mauritanian’ (2021) gives a glimpse into this dark and disturbing torture regime at Guantanamo. The short but graphic scenes that are depicted being inflicted upon Mohamedou Ould Slahi are enough for us to deal with and we are just watching a reconstruction. Yet it was language games that allowed this torture to begin in the first place.