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Am I the only one who wouldn’t really object to prisoners from Guantanamo settling here in Australia?

An article appeared in the Australian this morning, suggesting that it could happen. By the end of the day, our poorly-rated opposition leader called the idea “completely and totally unacceptable to the Australian people” and the acting prime minister admitted that it was “very unlikely” to happen.

I’m not going to speak on the behalf of 21 million others like Malcolm Turnbull seems to think is appropriate. However, I personally would not have any problems with prisoners from Guantanamo Bay coming and settling here. After all, those two prisoners with Australian citizenship were allowed to come home. Why won’t we allow anyone else to come?

It’s not like we’d be letting terrorists into the country. If the US have an actual reason to detain a prisoner, they won’t be releasing him, I can assure you. The prisoners they’re going to release are the ones who don’t pose a threat to society. People who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who got mixed up in something they didn’t mean to, or who have changed their mind in the 6+ years that have elapsed. Among Guantanamo’s inmates have been journalists and taxi drivers. Still among Guantanamo’s inmates is a Canadian teenager whose dad got him mixed up with the Taliban. Well, he’s not a teenager any more, but he was fifteen when first detained.

Everyone knows that Guantanamo Bay is the site of some gross violations of human rights. Prisoners there, who have been detained for years without trial, are tortured. Everyone knows this. Some people there are chained to the floor for 23 hours a day, unable to move. Others are stripped naked, doused in cold water, and locked in freezing cold rooms. Sleep deprivation is common. Beatings are common. Being forced to listen to songs from Barney & Friends, at a loud volume, on repeat, for hours on end, is common. You’ll notice I didn’t even mention waterboarding to make my point. Guantanamo Bay is not a nice place to be.

The facility should be shut down; most people seem to agree on that. Those who have a case to answer should face proper, ordinary legal proceedings. Those who do not should be allowed to go free. That latter point, believe it or not, is what the US Government is trying to achieve here. Perhaps it’s not fair that the US won’t just settle the prisoners itself. In Australia, we can’t help that. All we can do is help the prisoners who need a new country to live in.

They have suffered a lot, and for a long time. There is no, or negligible, evidence to link them to terrorism. And they can’t go home, to their own countries, because they risk persecution there. It’s not necessarily our responsibility to resettle them, but some charitable nation has to. I, personally, would not mind if that charitable nation was us.

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One Comment

  1. I need to read more about this but it makes me wonder why we can’t just let them resettle in the US too which is closer to Cuba anyway.


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