He prefers to be called Dan

21 Aug

Today I met Major Michael Mori, best known for his work defending David Hicks who is currently being held without charge in Guantanamo Bay.He was amazing to meet and listen to. He came to our work to give us a talk about David’s case, how it relates to US/Australian/International Law and how we could get involved.

How is David doing?
Not well. He’s been placed back in isolation after reporting on conditions and events to Consul occurring at Camp Delta (I think. Sorry, I lost track as he’s been moved from Camp X-Ray, to Camp Echo to Camp Delta and everywhere). This means he has no access to reading material (one item of which was, ironically, the Geneva Convention), no access to sunlight, 23 hours kept in a permanently lit cell with 1 hour to walk around a kennel-area as part of physical exercise. The exercise occurs at night, once again to remove him from sunlight.

Apart from the mental torture from isolation and other psych techniques, Major Mori states that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove Hicks has been physically assaulted by soldiers at the camp(s), plus reports of bruising (one memorable one on his back that was “bootshaped”). Despite this, the Australian Government believes the assurances of the US Government.

Law of War
One of the most fascinating aspects of Major Mori’s chat was how the imprisonment, charges laid etc bare very little resemblance to accepted laws of war.

In respect to the charges that were once laid against Hicks:

Charge 1: Conspiracy
According to Nuremberg precedents, etc. Conspiracy is not considered a relavant charge in law of war. Under the allegations relating to this charge is that he trained with the Taliban and guarded a tank (which is not attacking civilians, civilian objects or engaging in terrorism). The same year Hicks was alleged to have conspired with the Taliban was the same year the US gave that organisation $21 million.

Charge 2: Attempted Murder by an Unprivileged Belligerent.
Under all accepted Laws of War it is not criminal to kill another soldier in fight. And he wasn’t killing civilians. There are no allegations or proof that he actually shot at or killed any civillian or soldier. Additionally, to be considered a Unprivileged Belligerent, one must be a civilian/soldier in non-uniform (i.e. Western Army Uniform). Which um, was pretty much everyone in Afghanistan including the Northern Alliance, CIA and Special Forces according to Major Mori.

This charge specifies Hicks “intended to kill American, British, Canadian, Australian, Afghan and Other Coalition forces”. At the time of his capture by Northern Alliance, the Australian forces (to whom he would owe allegiance) were not in the country. British forces were about 500miles away.

Charge 3: Aiding the enemy
Hicks is not a US citizen, therefore owes no allegiance to them. Hicks was to be tried as were 9 other people out of the 460 inmates held as “enemy combatants” formally charged since the camp opened in early 2002. The case would have been heard in front of a Military Commission. There are many things one could say about Military Commissions and their effectiveness, however I’ll leave it at the fact the Supreme Court have ruled them as illegal.

Why was Habib released and Hicks not?
The rumour – and it is by no means substantiated – repeated is that Habib was going to introduce classified information about rendition approved by both US and Aus organisations. With Habib released, the information was safe from being reveled.

Getting Involved
David Hicks has been held without charge, without trial and without basic human rights for nearly five years. If you want to make your voice heard email, fax and call your local reps as well as Ruddock and Howard. I’m also getting the fax numbers for US Congress as we’re going to start campaigning them as the new Commission comes up for discussion.

There’s so much more to say but my head was literally overloaded after nearly 2 hours. I’ll put in some contact details and extra stuff later.

Final note: Major Mori noted how these camps were not for US citizens and that the US court system is quite efficient at processing the many terrorist cases before it. In his opinion no American would stand for a US Citizen being held in any of the camps at Guantanamo. So why are we?

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