Monday, June 01, 2009

UK's Own Gitmo Hides Some Dirty Secrets

The shameful cover-up by the foreign secretary who lied to parliament over illegal secret renditions on the tiny crown island of Diego Garcia has been exposed, while the government's disgraceful dirty little secret has been systematically wiped from the official record.

Time and again the New Labour government has scoffed at suggestions the island was used as a Guantanamo (Gitmo) style black-site prison. 

Now two terror suspects who were flown by the CIA to the UK territory and later allegedly tortured have been named and evidence about their treatment has been revealed for the first time, according to the Guardian

Meanwhile the islanders who were ruthlessly deported to make way for the US base continue to face an uncertain future. 

As a UK territory, the islanders should have been be protected by the Crown and the island's future up to the will of parliament. Instead a  New Labour government has relentlessly persued a policy of cleansing and deporting the ethnic population, while being complicit with the US in using the island as a base for state abduction and Gitmo-style detention, rendition flights and interrogation. 

After repeated denials by ministers, fresh evidence prepared for the commons foreign affairs committee by Clive Stafford Smith, of the human rights group Reprieve, show two men, referred to by foreign secretary, David Miliband, had been rendered through the island in 2002. 

And the government had systematically destroyed flight logs for the US airbase, according to LibDems foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davy.

The government has an appalling record over the tiny island in the Indian Ocean since leasing it out to the US in the 1970s. Then locals were forced out to live in poverty more than 1,000 miles away in Mauritius, so the island could be turned into a US military base. 

One of the alleged terrorists held at Diego Garcia cited in the Reprieve evidence before he was flown on to Gitmo is the subject of a police investigation into "possible criminal wrongdoing" by the CIA and an MI5 officer.

Stafford Smith said: "It is time for the UK government to come clean about its role in the detention and to reveal who else has been held on and rendered through Diego Garcia, what happened to them there, and where they are now." 

Unlike Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, no-one can drop by Diego Garcia, even with a UK passport. Anyone entering territorial waters will be arrested. The  island, which has a huge airstrip, is full of US military and an army of cheap labour migrant workers to do the dirty work for them.

The government has a shameful record over the use of the island and the treatment of its people. In 2004, Blair exiled the whole population from the Overseas Territory when he issued an Order of Council stopping the islanders from ever going back, using the 'royal prerogative' without recourse to parliament or the crown. 

In June of last year the Orange Party highlighted the plight of the islanders which has been the subject of high court and house of lords appeals to no avail and the disreputable use of the UK/US military base.

Parliament had been repeatedly told no detainees have passed in transit through Diego Garcia or have disembarked there,  despite  long-standing suspicions the CIA operated one of its so-called 'black site' prisons on the island.

Commenting on the latest revelations, Davey, said: "These astonishing allegations fly in the face of the assurances given by the foreign secretary to parliament. The use of British territory for illegal state abduction and detention is unacceptable." 

Government ministers are happy to voice concern over Guantanamo Bay and how it's used to get round international law.  But time and time again the iron fist of government has refused to examine the truth of the allegations at Diego Garcia, while enforcing full-scale deportation of the population. 

The UK government's complicity in torture while burying its head in the sand and leaving the displaced islanders to rot, leaves behind one of the more shameful episodes of a discredited New Labour party and the sham of the  so-called 'liberal' credentials of its ministers. 

Picture: Ariel photograph of Diego Garcia

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