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Guantanamo in Finland?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-01-16 18:55:41
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It was on the Finnish news a week ago but it really took me a week to swallow it and I have to admit that I still don’t get it. The news that hit the Finnish media was that Finland is not going to oppose asylum to Guantanamo detainees who are not posing a …security risk! And that was not the only thing that hit me because somebody called Martin Scheinin, some kind of UN special-something-or-other, added that “Finland could and should offer asylum to some of the Guantanamo prisoners.”

Hold on to your horse, cowboy, or better I would say ‘what the f@ck!’ if that hadn’t turned into an issue last week in Ovi. But let’s get serious. One of the promises Barack Obama gave during his campaign was to close down the Guantanamo prison for good emphasizing often that everything happened in this camp was against international law, violated every idea of human rights and embarrasses the whole world with the admitted use of torture methods. And we were all very happy with this because you can not declare ambassador of democracy and at the same time violate basic institutions of democracy like the one of fair judgment and fair treatment.

Even if these prisoners were guilty, the accusers lost their right with the way they treated them and in this case the American administration lost every single advantage it had when talking about justice and democracy; apparently what was going on in Guantanamo often showed that there was very little difference between the two sides and that if anything else it showed disrespect for the ones who lost their lives, the victims of terrorism including the ones from the Twin Towers.

But Barack Obama promised to change that and I think a lot of people - it doesn’t matter where they stand in the case of this war - were relieved because above anything else they believe in democracy and they could see the huge mistake George W. Bush’s administration was doing. Fine till now but if this news is true – and I have no doubt that they are – why add another mistake? And here is where all the questions start.

If these people are not a security threat then what the hell were they doing in Guantanamo prison? If after so long piling the prison with more detainees who had to go through torture and tense questioning without any defence and in the end without any accusations why the hell are they not free? And finally why has the USA moved the problem to other countries and make them an accomplice to a crime or if that sounds too strong to a wrong-doing? Because if they are guilty the USA legal system can manage well and lead them to the court rooms, give them a fair trial and whatever comes after if they are not guilty of anything, why the hell they were there? And let’s push it a bit more, why these people cannot return to their own countries and need asylum from countries like Finland?

I have to admit that I don’t expect any official from the Finnish government to answer to Ovi magazine, we are not used to this kind of treatment despite the fact that we have asked a few questions in the past but I think that was one more of the reasons I was waiting for so long before I write something because the government can ignore Ovi magazine but what about the other media, why they didn’t ask these questions? Do they find the situation normal and are they going to wait for the prisoners with red carpets in the airport and all the cameras there?

And what about the new US president; is this what he promised? He’s going to close Guantanamo and create many small ones in …friendly countries? This ‘friendly countries’ again brings shivers because I remember how the winner of the elections in Finland, Anneli Jäätteenmäki lost her Prime Minister seat in 2003, just weeks after elected because during her campaign she said the …truth; that the former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen was more …friendly than the constitution was allowing him with George W. Bush’s administration!

But don’t worry, be content; the Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb said that …"Finland is open to the possibility; however at this stage the matter is only under consideration!” Now I feel relieved despite the fact that Mr. Martin Scheinin from the UN thinks that Finland should offer asylum forgetting that Finland is an independent country and not some kind of colony!

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Emanuel Paparella2009-01-16 11:11:59
Of course Guantanamo is an outrage, and we ought not be creating more little Guantanamo; but frankly Thanos, aren't you forgetting that Barack Obama is not president YET and the US Constitution provides for one president at a time. After he is president we may further get it off our chest, with or without curse words, expleted or not, depending I suppose on which mode gives one a greater catharsis.

Eva2009-01-16 11:32:50
Good article!

Hank W.2009-01-16 16:20:12
If they're not a threat why doesn't the USA then give these poor people asylum?

AP2009-01-16 18:23:01
I think Finland is the right place. But for "prison asylum" like the one they give to the COs...

LL2009-01-16 21:19:06
In the US among the regular folks there remains a deep seated hatred and fear of those people associated with the 911 attacks.

Way to go Finland! Its time to get those folks out of jail.

There is some belief that the reason the US govt has not funded education in many years is to make the rank and file easier to brainwash in the US. In many places not only the education itself is falling apart but the school buildings are in dire need of repair.

LL2009-01-16 21:20:50
Many of those jailed illegally held for so long are considered dangerous in their own countries who do not want them back.

LL2009-01-16 21:23:01
Thamos, the use of colony here is loaded correctly. But I am not sure you yourself have personal experience with it. Colonial interests often have a strong patriarchal and slavery mentality, which is eroding at present in the US, for widely apparent reasons.

LL2009-01-16 21:24:05
Thanos, not Thamos, sorry a typo.

Thanos2009-01-16 22:37:08
I do understand the implications of the long imprisonment for these people still you don’t fix a mistake with another mistake. And if these people need some kind of support do you think a country near the arctic will help, won’t it look like another twisted kind of punishment in the end?

I agree that the word colonization is quite strong and I think that was my intention, to my defense I’m coming from a country that was dealt as a colony after the WWII with most dramatic moment the military dictatorship in 70s – for which to my surprise and admiration B. Clinton has apologize.

LL2009-01-17 00:28:55
being raised in Alaska I can see what you mean about prison conditions - it can be a joy or a drag based on conditions and what you personally enjoy.

Mathias2009-01-17 01:08:03
Quite easy to answer all your questions - you're actually missing the point a bit.

In Guantanamo you have 3 types of people now:
- the ones the Americans think are innocent and they want to set them free (now they finally say: 'sorry guys! we were wrong'! unbelievable but true!)

- the ones the US thinks are guilty and they will be put in front of a military court, who can then decide to put them in jail in the US or to let them free

- most problematic category: the ones the US thinks are still 'terrorists' but they don't have enough proof.

Finland wants to accept some of the detainees from the first category because some of these people come from countries like Yemen, Algeria, Tunesia, Saudi Arabia, China etc where there is a very big chance that they will be tortured again when they will be sent back (oh the irony...) and it's forbidden for international law to send somebody to such a country... that's why the US seeks help from other countries. ALSO because most of the GB detainees don't want to stay and seek asylum... in the US of course! (who wants to be bothered by the CIA and the FBI all the time after you just have been bothered for seven years???)

So what Finland is doing is definitely a very good thing. These people won't be prisoners anymore, they will just be normal asylumseekers, get housing etc..

Eva2009-01-17 01:33:11
For me this was a good article because of every point Thanos made - I agree with everything.
OK as Paparella pointed out, Obama is not president yet and it will be very interesting to see what happens over the next months.
But I personally have the feeling that every prisoner who was or is jailed there will gain cult/hero status purely - and ONLY! - because of the bad publicity the place got.
So let's watch it over the next months, eh?
Thanos said these prisoners are probably there for a reason, and I agree, it's not like the CIA/FBI/police knocked on any random people's door to fill the prison up...
but whatever happened, this is now known as a 'torture camp' and so... no matter what the prisoners did in order to get there in the first place, because of the bad press they will possibly be hailed heroes for having survived it?
Is this good? Should we really be dusting off the red carpet for that...?

Eva2009-01-17 01:41:14
Are you some kind of expert on this since you so confidently answer all of our questions?

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-17 02:26:03
Here is another perspective from the UK's Telegraph on the stance of other EU governments. I am no expert on human rights but I find myself asking the question: does the EU have a coherent policy on this based on its cultural, political moral values or is it a does it want the cake and eat it too?

European Union countries should offer to take in any detainees released from the US military prison in Guantánamo, Portugal's foreign minister said in a letter published on Thursday. Portugal is willing to grant asylum to Guantánamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said in the letter sent to his EU counterparts. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-17 02:26:51
President-Elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the detention centre, currently holding some 250 men, at the US Naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba. EU nations agree the prison should be closed. But human rights campaigners have said many inmates would face persecution if sent back to their home countries.
Mr Amado said the EU "should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the US government resolve this problem, namely by taking in the detainees," according to the letter. He said the EU has made progress on the legal considerations attaching to such an offer, but he did not elaborate. The letter was posted Thursday on the Portuguese government's website. It was sent to the EU foreign ministers Wednesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN's torture investigator Manfred Nowak had recommended last month that European countries take in Guantánamo inmates who cannot be sent home.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-17 02:41:42


The link above will take the reader to an article in EU Observer by Valentina Pop on "EU States criticized for human rights violations" which leads to the proverbial inquiry: should those who live in glass houses be throwing stones at passerbys; or perhaps more wisely: those who have no sin cast the first stone.

LL2009-01-17 06:40:03
no he's right all ya have to do is read the paper. cnn.com, msnbc etc

Hank W.2009-01-17 20:10:12
How about a novel idea of USA paying for their own mess.

And what is wrong with countries like China or Saudi Arabia. If they are good enough countries to support their regimes by buying their products and their oil then why do you care of their people all of a sudden.

Hank W.2009-01-17 20:12:59
"In the US among the regular folks there remains a deep seated hatred and fear of those people associated with the 911 attacks."

Yes and Finland we just love these kind of liberal people?

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