Ibrahim Osman, prisoner at Guantanamo Bay concentration camp will soon arrive in the Sudan. He is unwell, and has been for some time. The ordeal of Guantanamo Bay prison-camp is such that several have actually died there. Some-on hunger strike-are being force fed.
In March 2010, I visited Sami Al-Haj at a hospital in Doha-Qatar where he was undergoing surgery for a leg complaint resulting from his Guantanamo Bay ordeal. He displayed that most gracious of Sudanese Sufi traits – utter lack of desire for vengeance. He told me about the many good people whom he encountered during his incarceration.
This Sami Al-Haj cue, is our best clue to protecting our young people from extremist ant-Western views. We need to explain that campaigns to free him and Ibrahim Osman were fronted not only by Sudanese organisations and the Sudanese government; but by Khawajat in the West too.
The London-based “Reprieve” was and still is outstanding in its Guantanamo Bay campaigns.
We could also (without any hint of cynicism) quote President Obama’s speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009, in which he said: “I believe the US must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison of Guantanamo Bay closed”.
We know of course that-to his credit-Obama had promised to close Guantanamo Bay during his presidential campaign and that after winning the presidency to the relief of most US watchers, he had issued a memo to that effect followed by an executive order; but the prison remained open for 680 detainees who were never accused or tried or convicted. Several were gradually repatriated to their homelands.
The stumbling block is Congress where Republican Tea Party extremists hold many cards.
The President in the US does not “rule”. He navigates policies through a maze of checks and balances (or cheques and bank balances!), and must consider his party’s future prospects. He cannot ignore what President Eisenhower called “the military industrial complex”.
Congress, which kept Guantanamo Bay open against the desire of the President is the Congress which is keen on Sudan’s sanctions and economic strangulation. Many members are from the reactionary Southern States with safe gerrymandered constituencies as Edward Luce of the Financial Times (7/10/13) has observed.
We welcome the release of Ibrahim Osman; but remember that there are two more Sudanese held without trial or accusation. Their release will be achieved with non-Sudanese solidarity, including US-based campaigns that prove the existence of more than one USA.