Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Desmond Tutu: U.S. detention and torture policies like apartheid-era South Africa

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has expressed surprise so many Americans have accepted arguments for the treatment of terrorist suspects that were once prevalent in South Africa’s defense of apartheid. Tutu was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

This from Reuters:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused the United States and Britain of pursuing policies like those of South Africa's apartheid-era government by detaining terrorism suspects without trial.

At an event to commemorate the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDR) today, the Nobel laureate said the detention of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a "huge blot on a democracy".

"Whoever imagined that you would hear from the United States and from Britain the same arguments for detention without trial that were used by the apartheid government," Archbishop Tutu said.

Archbishop Tutu is chairman of the Elders, a group of prominent international statesmen that includes former US president Jimmy Carter, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and his Mozambican-born wife, Graca Machel.

The group is spearheading a campaign to get one billion people to sign a pledge reaffirming the principles of the UNDR, passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

Archbishop Tutu, who helped lead the struggle to overthrow white minority rule in South Africa, said he was surprised so many Americans had accepted the argument that the Guantanamo detentions were necessary because of national security.

"It is exactly what the apartheid government used to say here," the Anglican cleric said.

His remarks come amid a growing outcry over alleged abuses at Guantanamo, which was used as a mass detention centre for suspected violent Islamic radicals in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.

Critics have said the US is circumventing international law by holding detainees without charge, often for years, and violated their human rights with forced confessions and torture tactics.

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

It reminds me that the correct behavior by a government is sometimes highly unpopular amongst the majority of people---who prove themselves indebted foremost to blood lust and vindictiveness.