Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Gulag? I don't think so.

Amnesty International compared Guantanamo Bay to a 'Gulag' recently. I'll be the first in line to be critical of the Aministration when it comes to violating the Constitution with respect to the people held there, but comparing the hundreds of people there to the MILLIONS (1.6 Million documented deaths) killed in the Gulag simply points out the remarkable ignorance of Amnesty International.

From detainees:

The documents included notes from a July 29, 2002, interview in which a detainee complained of ill treatment and beatings by guards. "They flushed a Quran in the toilet. The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray," the detainee alleged, according to the report. "The guards still do these things."

But they get fed. They get water. They are not forced into work camps where the odds are they will die. THEY ARE ALLOWED TO TALK TO OUTSIDERS!

Perhaps the folks at AI should take a few moments to read the Wikipedia entry on Gulag, specifically the 'Conditions' section:
Extreme production quotas, brutality, hunger and harsh elements were major reasons for Gulag's high fatality rate, which was as high as 80% during the first months in many camps.

Logging and mining were among the most common of activities, as well as the harshest. In a Gulag mine, one person's production quota might be as high as 29,000 pounds (13,000 kg) of ore per day. Failure to meet a quota resulted in a loss of vital rations, a cycle that usually had fatal consequences through a condition of being emaciated and devitalized, dubbed "dohodyaga" (доходяга).

Inmates were often forced to work in inhuman conditions. In spite of the brutal climate, they were almost never adequately clothed, fed, or given medical treatment, nor were they given any means to combat the lack of vitamins that led to nutritional diseases such as scurvy. The nutritional value of basic daily food ration varied around 1,200 calories (5,000 kilojoules), mainly from low-quality bread (distributed by weight and called "пайка", paika). According to the World Health Organization, the minimum requirement for a heavy labourer is in the range of 3,100–3,900 calories (13,000 to 16,300 kJ) daily.

Administrators routinely stole from the camp stockpiles for personal gain, as well as to curry favor with superiors. As a result, inmates were forced to work even harder to make up the difference. Administrators and trusties (inmates assigned to perform the duties servicing the camp itself, such as cooks, bakers or stockmen, dubbed "pridurki") skimmed off the medicines, clothing and the most nutritious foodstuffs.

This kind of stuff makes it easy to pretty much ignore AI. It also makes it easy for someone like me to not send them any money... given I'm someone who would have in the past, that's probably the best way to let them know what I think.

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