We must hold true to our values

22nd January 2002

The MCB will express its deep concerns regarding the treatment of suspected al-Qaida members held captive at Guantanamo Bay at a meeting with Glyn Davies, Minister of the US Embassy in London (Deputy Chief of Mission), later this week. This follows last week’s discussion between Prime Minister Tony Blair and MCB Secretary General Yousuf Bhailok at a reception held for Faith Community Representatives at 10 Downing Street.

“We have maintained from the outset that the true mark of a civilised society is the way it chooses to conduct itself in times of crisis. Sadly, the inhumane and degrading treatment of captives at Guantanamo Bay would seem to suggest that the US has placed vengeance and ritual humiliation ahead of justice,” said Mr Bhailok.

The MCB rejects the use of the term ‘unlawful combatants’ used by the US administration. These are prisoners of war and should be treated as such; their precise guilt is yet to be determined. This should be done not by a military tribunal, but by a properly constituted international court under the auspices of the UN, involving non interested parties, charged with investigating crimes against humanity because this is exactly what the September 11th attacks were. This applies to all captives, whatever their nationality.

The MCB urges the American administration to take heed of the growing international outcry and let justice and humanity prevail. The MCB delegation visiting Mr Davies this week will argue that comments made by the US Secretary of State for Defense Donald Rumsfeld, that he had “not the slightest concern” for the welfare of the prisoners, are morally indefensible.

“This heavy-handed approach will only hand ‘victory’ to the terrorists of September 11” said Mr Bhailok. He added: “At a time when we are all trying to defeat the evil of terrorism, the US must endeavour to be true and sincere to the civilised values it proclaims and which we all support. These include justice, humanity and integrity. This is no example to be setting to the rest of the world. Some regard it as blatant ‘double standards’ and a flagrant violation of our commitment to uphold civilised norms”.