Showing posts with label David Hicks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Hicks. Show all posts

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hicks fights back

David Hicks—the Australian who was imprisoned and tortured in the US concentration camp of Guantanamo—is now assisted by a group of supporters who are contributing greatly to his healing process.

Click the banner to access the Guantanamo file of Hicks, made available by WikiLeaks. In the wake of the release of this data, Hicks and his supporters published a critical statement. Click the following banner to access a presentation by Jeffrey Kaye, in The Public Record, of this statement by the Hicks group:

Here's an extract of the book, Guantanamo: My Journey, published by David Hicks in 2010:

I awoke on a concrete slab with the sun in my face. I looked around and saw that I was in a cage made out of cyclone fencing, the same as the boundary fence around my old primary school. Internal fences divided the cage into ten enclosures, and I was in one of the corner-end cells. Around me, I saw five other concrete slabs with what looked like bird cages constructed on top. A fence covered in green shadecloth and topped with rolls of razor wire was wrapped around these six concrete slabs, able to house sixty unfortunate human beings. Hanging on the inside of this fence were signs saying, ''If you attempt escape, you will be shot'', complete with a featureless person with a target for a head.

All around the outside of the shadecloth, civilian and uniformed personnel cleared and flattened grass and trees. They poured cement and assembled the wire cages, calling them ''blocks''. There was nothing much else around us except guard towers boasting large, painted American flags and manned by armed marines.

My block was only the second to have been built, but that would change over time. As this prison grew out of the grass, more ''detainees'', as they liked to call us, rather than POWs, arrived. About a month later, around 360 of us lived in these outdoor enclosures. They were open to the wind, sun, dust and rain and offered no respite. The local wildlife was being disturbed as their homes were bulldozed to make room for the concrete blocks, and scorpions, snakes and 23 centimetre-long tarantulas tried to find shelter in what were now our enclosures.

My cage, like all the cages, was three steps wide by three steps long. I shared this space with two small buckets: one to drink out of, the other to use as a toilet. There was an ''isomat'' (a five-millimetre-thin foam mat), a towel, a sheet, a bottle of shampoo that smelt like industrial cleaner, a bar of soap (I think), a toothbrush with three-quarters of the handle snapped off and a tube of toothpaste. When I held this tube upside down, even without squeezing, a white, smelly liquid oozed out.

This bizarre operation was called Camp X-Ray. Our plane was the first to arrive on this barren part of the island, and we remained the only detainees for the first three or four days. We had been spaced apart because of the surplus of cages. Every hour of the day and night we had to produce our wristband for inspection, as well as the end of our toothbrush, in case we had ''sharpened it into a weapon''. These constant disturbances prevented us from sleeping. We were not allowed to talk, or even look around, and had to stare at the concrete between our legs while sitting upright on the ground. If we did lie flat on the concrete, we had to stare at a wooden covering a foot or so above our cages, which served as some type of roof. Apart from blocking the sun for about two hours around noon, the roof offered no other benefit.

Sitting or lying in the middle of the cage, away from the sides, were the only two positions we were allowed to assume. We could not stand up unless ordered to, and the biggest sin was to touch the enclosing wire. If we transgressed any of these rules, even if innocently looking about, we were dealt with by the IRF team, an acronym for Instant Reaction Force. The Military Police nicknamed this procedure being ''earthed'' or ''IRFed'', because they would slam and beat us into the ground.

I first witnessed the IRF team a day or two after my arrival. An MP stopped outside the cage of an Afghan, my closest neighbour at the time. The MP demanded to know what the Afghan had scratched into the cement. He had not scratched anything and could not even speak or understand English. I heard the MP read, ''Osama will save us''. The detainee had no idea what the guard was on about, yet the MP was furious when he did not respond. ''I'll teach you to resist,'' the MP threatened and stormed off. Suddenly six MPs in full riot gear formed a line outside his cage. The first one held a full-length shield. He entered the cage first, slamming the detainee, pinning him to the cement floor with the shield, while the others beat him in the torso and face. The last to enter the cage was a dog handler with a large German shepherd. The dog was encouraged to bark and growl only centimetres from the Afghan's face while he was being beaten. In later cases, the dogs bit detainees.

When they had finished, they chained him up and carried him out. His face was covered in blood. A few hours later an MP washed the blood off the cement with a scrubbing brush and hose. To add to that injustice, an MP told me some weeks later that he himself had scratched that statement into the cement before any of us had arrived at Guantanamo, while they had been training and awaiting our arrival.

Every two or three days a planeload of detainees would arrive. They were always made to kneel and lean forward on the gravel while being yelled at and struck in the back of the head. They had to balance in this position while one detainee at a time was picked up from the line, escorted into a block and deposited into a cage. Those who were moved first were lucky not to have to endure the stress position for hours...

It was around this time that helicopters hovered above, and very large groups of civilians walked through the camp to view us in our cages - specimens in an international makeshift zoo.

The first two weeks of Camp X-Ray was a blur of hardships: no sleeping, no talking, no moving, no looking, no information. Through a haze of disbelief and fear, pain and confusion, we wondered what was going to happen. To pass time and relieve the pressure on my ailing back, I chose to lie down rather than sit up. During the day I would look slightly to my right, focusing my vision just beyond the wooden roof, and lose myself in the sky beyond. It was an escape, so peaceful, so blue and full of sunlight. I gazed at the odd cloud and spied big, black birds circling high above, called vulture hawks. It was never long, though, before a hostile face blocked the view, screaming, ''What are you looking at? Look up at the roof.'' All I could do was sigh and avert my gaze from the infinite, blue sky to a piece of wood.

Guantanamo: My Journey,
by David Hicks (William Heinemann Australia).

Saturday, March 31, 2007

David Hicks: future Aussie celebrity

Wow, this 31-year-old boy's in for a bright future! But he's only got nine months to put his celebrity act together, to start learning off by heart just the right things to say in interviews, the right clothes to wear, the questions to brush aside, the answers that attract audiences, when to joke, when to be serious, how to sign contracts to skin a kangaroo for a Japanese or American TV crew, where to invest his earnings...

Sorry, Irwin, it's time to get your heavenly arse out of the arena. Tina too. There's no way of combating this new wild beast. His fighting credentials are infinitely better than those of existing gladiators, including even Mad Max and the blond girl who married a washed-out hillbilly. If only David can sign up Mori as an agent...

Bloody lucky Australia! The country hasn't lost a single boy in Iraq (thank Allah), Howard and Bush are convinced that the sun shines out of each other's arsehole, and here we have in our own Taronga [Sydney's zoo] the only existing real-life specimen of a genuine home-grown terrorist, with direct links to Godfather Osama.

Flucki cuntri! [texto for fucking lucky country]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Guilty plea... to try to get out of Guantanamo

Yesterday, trying desperately to get away from Bush's notorious and ignominious Guantanamo penal colony, Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty to a charge of material support for terrorism. This courtroom sketch shows Hicks seated next to his sympathetic military defense attorney, Major Michael Mori:

The prisoner has let his hair grow long so that he can use strands of it to cover his eyes to protect him from the light that is turned on permanently in his cell at Guantanamo. Isn't that trivial anecdote straight out of a horror movie? Doesn't it back up one's feeling that the Bush administration, traumatized by 9/11, has lost all sense of moral relativity?

The truth of the matter, I fear, is that most Americans, preoccupied as usual by their own egocentric challenges (these days, the possibility of running short of petroleum gas for their automobiles), probably haven't even heard of David Hicks and the unjust way in which his case has been handled. As far as ordinary Australians are concerned, their passionate attempts to insist upon a fair deal for David Hicks have been typically marvelous, right from the start, and it's a terrible pity that the Australian people's concern and indignation have never been relayed adequately to Bush & Co. In the words of Brett Solomon, executive director of GetUp!: "The Australian government didn't have the guts to intervene and ensure a fair trial for David."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Sad affair

The Bush administration has just filed terrorism charges against David Hicks, who has already been detained without trial for more than five years in the notorious detention center of Guantanamo Bay. What a disgusting anticlimax to a mediocre affair. As an Australian, I'm ashamed of the way in which groveling Howard has allowed Bush to lead us up the the garden path concerning the treatment of this pathetic fellow who would have no doubt done better to stick to kangaroo skinning instead of signing up (so we're told) as an illuminated mercenary. Be that as it may, David Hicks holds an Australian passport. So, one might ask: What does it mean today, if anything, to be Australian? This affair is not only disgusting; it's frightening.