Prisoners held in British Afghan base no different to Gitmo inmates – MP
RT:Mr. Corbyn, is it right to compare Camp Bastion to Guantanamo Bay?
Jeremy Corbyn: The principles are very much the same, that is that people are collected or arrested as enemy combatants and for very long periods not allowed normal judicial process. With Guantanamo Bay, and I think the legacy of 2001, camp Bastion and the extraordinary rendition process is something that is going to live for a very long time, international law has been seriously undermined by Britain and the USA in their behavior over Afghanistan for the past 12 years.
RT:I guess not only breaking international law but human rights violations in these facilities have occurred, in Guantanamo we know that the detainees are starving themselves to be heard, do we know what is happening to those at camp Bastion?
JC: Well, it’s very difficult to find out exactly what is happening there and also what the nationality of some of the prisoners actually is. There is no longer any rendition going on from either of the bases in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay, but there seems to be considerable numbers held at both prisons and its very unclear whether the handing over of the bases to the Afghan authorities when the main forces of Britain and the USA withdraw next year, is actually going to be complete or whether there will be a security facility retained by the USA and Britain, which will include the prison facilities. What we do know is that the preaching of international law by Britain and the USA and others seems to me very hypocritical and hollow when, on the question of the past rendition of soldiers, not soldiers but prisoners rather, to Guantanamo Bay but also the indefinite detention of people in both these bases who may well be Afghan people or may well be people from neighboring countries.
RT:We know that President Obama has said that he wants to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, but those words have just been met with skepticism now, what do we know of the British authorities, are they planning to return these prisoners to the Afghan authorities when they leave Afghanistan?
JC: Well, I’ve had a number of meetings with the British government and I’ve raised the issue in parliament about British nationals who were held in Guantanamo Bay, all of whom have now been released and are now British residents, these are foreign nationals with the right of residence in Britain, the most prominent of which Shaker Aamer who is still held in Guantanamo Bay and is on hunger strike at the present time. The official position of the British government is that Guantanamo should be closed down and that all the prisoners should either be put on trial or released, that is its official position. President Obama claimed in his first election campaign he was going to close down Guantanamo Bay, he said as much in his second election campaign and here we are 5 years later, it’s still up and running, he claims or his administration claim that they can’t get it passed in the house and the senate in the USA and that’s the problem. I find it quite extraordinary that a major power like the USA should flout international law in this way, and I think we have to redouble our efforts to get Guantanamo Bay closed down and the rule of international law asserted.
RT:Just briefly, what do these kinds of prisons tell us about this US-led war that Britain was also involved in, in Afghanistan?
JC: Well it shows an utter contempt for the alleged independence of the Afghan government. The Afghan government is supposed to be in charge of the country and there are British and American and many other soldiers allegedly fighting to protect this government, they claim they can’t hand prisoners over to this government because they’ll be tortured but instead they’re held illegally in these two bases, What we need is transparency, the right of visiting, the right of representation, and to either release the prisoners or put them on trial. It is simply not right that prisoners should be held indefinitely without charge or trial.