Guantanamo Boy and Man’s Inhumanity

guantanamo boyAnna Perera’s Guantanamo Boy is fiction, but is based on real accounts of the Guantanamo concentration camp the USA established off-shore during the “War on Terror”.  It tells the story of an average English boy, Khalid,   kidnapped from Pakistan while on a family holiday and handed over to American forces on suspicion of being involved with a terrorist plot. He is later flown to the Guantanamo facility after “confessing” (under torture by waterboarding) to involvement with Al Qaida. From that point on he is subjected to even more inhumane treatment including sleep deprivation, beatings, lack of basic sanitation or exercise, regular interrogation, poor diet…

Maybe if I saw this book in isolation I’d be more sceptical of the situations it portrays, but it is NOT isolated.  A year or so ago I read David Hick’s Guantanamo: My Journey about an Australian captured, imprisoned and tortured by US forces over several years.

9519353While Hicks perhaps wasn’t entirely forthcoming regarding the reason he was in Afghanistan when  he was taken prisoner, there can be NO excuse for the treatment he endured at the hands of the US government from that point until his eventual release,

No matter what Hicks’ “crimes” may have been – they were nowhere near as serious as those of the governments (US and, by complicity, Australian) that subjected him to the inhumanity of Guantanamo. If this had been done by other governments, those responsible would probably be facing war crimes charges, but the “victors” write the rules.

The premise of Guantanamo Boy should be hard to accept – it seems so outrageous. Who can believe that the US government would do such things? But the evidence is there to those who open their eyes. And scarily the book was entirely believable because of those like Hicks who have given very similar testimonies of their own experiences in the camp.

Many years ago I read a book about the Communist treatment of Christians imprisoned because of their faith, who were regularly tortured and abused over the years of their imprisonment. I think it was Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. Some of the treatment described in Guantanamo Boy and the Hicks book is identical to the Communist treatment of their Christian victims.

Reading about Guantanamo made me realise how the German people were able to turn a blind eye to Hitler’s atrocities and even, in the case of camp personnel, put Hitler’s orders into practice. People just don’t want to know what their beloved nations are doing. Or if they know they like to justify it.

And with that example I’ve made links between the behaviour of Communists, Nazis and recent Western Governments. I think the comparisons I’ve made are entirely valid – and they show how close ALL of us can get to justifying inhumanity when we think it might suit our own interests.

Sick Irony

Sick Irony

One thought on “Guantanamo Boy and Man’s Inhumanity

  1. Sadly (and frustratingly), Christians often take in the wrong “lessons” and come up with distortions from history. One of these might be mainly their own fault (due to religious zealotry — as well as/or alternatively due to their own self interest, which isn’t limited to this topic but often is all there is to their “faith” too): that these things shouldn’t happen to Christians [period]. Another of these lessons/distortions, though, might be coordinated “behind the scenes” so to speak. This one has to do with money (which still might have a seed of blame to put on susceptible Christians because of their hearts): the horrors involving Hitler and Soviet communism specifically have been shorthanded as where we go if allowing for community concern or living in a sense of social justice or [yiker of all yikers] “redistribution” (where the richest of the rich aren’t supposed to be revered — and me keeping “mine” isn’t sacrosanct). There is so much of more depth to learn from the time period and the very different approaches yet with similar tactics. One observation is, yes, to be very careful about and even wary of extreme utopian exuberance (however, that, to me, includes also the current overly-dedicated utopian ideology tied up with some mythical notion of a perfectly free “market” or perfectly “libertarian” social structure or excellently Christian by law America, as if these concepts actually work together). We lose sight of the plainness of the atrocity of cruelty.

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