New Worker Special Feature - 14/3/2003

Afganistán: Una página de ESPAÑA ROJA

Torture: weapon of the ruling class

by Ray Jones

THE ISSUE of the use of torture by states has arisen again with particular regard to the United States. This is hardly surprising as the world's only super power more and more obviously feels above minor details such as International Law and conventions when they are inconvenient.

Two Afghan prisoners held by the Americans in Bagram air base have died "while under interrogation". The details of their deaths, one of them reads "died from blunt force injuries to the lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease" (he was 22) could hardly be clearer - unless it just said `died under torture'.

Those of us who believe that human society progresses may like to think that part of this progress is the development of less brutal ways of living. We might sometimes almost despair when we consider certain periods, such as the Nazi Germany, but it is never the less true that modern capitalism has tried to clean up its act - hasn't it?

The US reportedly exports some of its torture work - sending prisoners to other countries willing to do their dirty work for them. Well, perhaps hypocrisy is marginally better than blatant abuse but it is arguable.

The US admits using "stress and duress" on prisoners in such places as Bagram and Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay which includes sleep deprivation, denial of treatment for battle injuries, being forced to kneel or stand for hours with hoods over their heads, and cultural humiliation techniques such as having male prisoner kicked by female guards.

This not torture in the US's book - although human rights organisations, and common sense, strongly disagree.


Some US politicians have openly argued that torture would be permissible to save American citizens from `terrorist attacks'. [...]
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