Today is Memorial Day in America; a day to remember those who have suffered and died because of war.
Today, I will pause and remember. I will remember the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens killed, maimed, tortured, and bereaved, because of the immoral and illegal invasion of that country by the United States and its satellite nation, the United Kingdom.
I will remember the five million children orphaned by that invasion. Five million young lives shattered forever at the whim of power-crazed politicians.
I will remember the innocent Pakistani people annihilated by the simple press of a button in some corner of a faraway nation. The US killing-machine drones delivering death from the sky to anyone ‘thought’ to be a potential enemy of that same distant superpower.
I will remember the hundreds of victims held in indefinite detention at the now infamous US military base at Guantanamo Bay, all of whom are innocent of any crime, if for no other reason than they have never been fairly tried and found guilty.
In particular, I will remember Shaker Aamer, a British resident detained in Guantanamo since February 2002. The Bush administration admitted they had no evidence against Aamer and cleared him for release in 2007. Five years later he is still there. The US won’t release him because they fear the story he has to tell about the hellhole that is Guantanamo.
Clive Smith, his lawyer, said in February 2010:
“I have known Shaker for sometime, because he is so eloquent and outspoken about the injustices of Guantanamo he is very definitely viewed as a threat by the US. Not in the sense of being an extremist but in the sense of being someone who can rather eloquently criticise the nightmare that happened there.”
I will remember Abu Zubaydah, another detainee in Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Donald Rumsfeld described him as a: “…very senior al Qaeda operative.”
Former President George W Bush called him: “…one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States,” and, “…al Qaeda’s chief of operations.”
Abu Zubaydah was water-boarded eighty-three times and suffered unbelievably harsh interrogation techniques during four and a half years in secret CIA prisons, and finally in Guantanamo Bay.
The CIA have now admitted that Abu Zubaydah was never even a member of al Qaeda. He has never been charged with any offence, yet still languishes in Guantanamo’s infamous ‘Camp 7’.
I will remember the many innocent Afghan people caught up in yet another invasion. The women and children gunned down recently by an American soldier, supposedly there to protect them. How many Americans, if asked why they are at war in Afghanistan, could provide any definitive answer?
You may ask why, on this American Memorial Day, I am pausing to remember these people.
It is because, on this Memorial Day, out of three hundred million Americans, I am probably the only one who will.