The 22 Children of Guantanamo
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 11, 2011
Here’s one of the stories the news media is assiduously avoiding this week, preferring instead to focus on and demonize innocent and clean Tweets from a Congressman:
In November 2008, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas published a report, “Guantánamo’s Children: Military and Diplomatic Testimonies,” presenting evidence that 12 juveniles had been held, and this was then officially acknowledged by the Pentagon.
The next week, however, I produced another report, “The Pentagon Can’t Count: 22 Juveniles Held at Guantánamo,” providing evidence that at least 22 juvenile prisoners had been held, and drawing on the Pentagon’s own documents, or on additional statements made by the Pentagon, to confirm my claims.
Two and a half years later, I stand by that report, and am only prepared to concede that up to three of the prisoners I identified as juveniles may have been 18 at the time of their capture. In the meantime, I have identified three more juvenile prisoners, and possibly three others, bringing the total back to 22, and possibly as many as 28.
My new research coincides with a new report by the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, “Guantánamo’s Children: The WikiLeaked Testimonies,” drawing on the recent release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military documents shedding new light on the prisoners, identifying 15 juveniles, and suggesting that six others, born in 1984 or 1985, and arriving at Guantánamo in 2002 or 2003, may have been under 18, depending on when exactly they were born (which is unknown, as it is in the cases of numerous Guantánamo prisoners).
And what happened to these juveniles, these minor kids kidnapped from their homelands? UC Davis’ Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas has data for some of them:
Thirteen of the individuals mentioned in this table have now been released. Of the other two, one is the first child
in History to have been convicted of war crimes (Omar Ahmed Khadr); the other allegedly killed himself in his Guantánamo cell at age 21 (Yasser Talal al Zahrani). Information about them and many other prisoners can be found elsewhere in this website; pictures of some of them can be found below.
So regardless of whether one uses the 15 or the 22 figure for the total number of kids held at Gitmo, it’s clear that the majority were found to be innocent of alleged terrorism and released, and should never have been kidnapped in the first place.
Call me evil, but I think that holding innocent kids for months and years without charge (and getting off scot-free for it) is far more of a crime than an innocuous Twitter exchange.
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