The Guantanamo Human Rights Commission (GHRC) was launched at a press conference at London’s House of Commons on January 20, 2004. It is a prisoners’-rights group committed to defending the several hundred incarcerated enemy combatants who were captured on the battlefield by U.S. troops during the war on terror. Most were captured during the 2001 war in Afghanistan, and many were arrested subsequently in Pakistan, Africa, or Southeast Asia. These men are being detained at prison camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
GHRC was founded by actress Vanessa Redgrave — a Trotskyite who detests the state of Israel and supports the Communist Workers Revolutionary Party — and her brother, the actor Corin Redgrave, who has characterized President Bush as worse than a Nazi. GHRC identifies the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Council of Churches as its “partner organizations.” Its ultimate goal is to end “all forms of internment without trial,” and to win the release of the prisoners at Guantanamo regardless of the reasons for which they were taken into custody.
According to Vanessa Redgrave, “Guantanamo Bay is not a detention center, it is a concentration camp.” In fact, the detention facilities at Guantanamo were constructed specifically to detain enemy combatants who have either received training from al Qaeda, or who have been in command of 300 or more military personnel. By incarcerating and interrogating them, the U.S. hopes to gain crucial intelligence that could thwart future terrorist attacks against America and to keep them from returning to the terror war against the United States. GHRC charges that the prisoners at Guantanamo are routinely subjected to “torture,” but outside observers have authenticated the opportunities for prayer and special diet for the Muslim prisoners, as well as television and the other recreational amenities of American prisons.
GHRC contends that the war on terror is a fabrication that was concocted to justify America’s militarism and imperialism, and the theft of Iraqi oil resources. In the summer of 2004, GHRC helped promote an off-Broadway play titled Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which depicts the detainees as innocent victims who were “simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
GHRC has been successful in its efforts to win the release of some of Guantanamo’s interned enemy combatants. As of July 30, 2007, approximately 420 Guantanamo prisoners had been released by the U.S. — a figure representing more than half the total number of those who were once incarcerated there. According to Pentagon spokesman Commander Jeffrey Gorden, “[O]ur reports indicate that at least 30 former Guantanamo detainees have taken part in anti-coalition militant activities after leaving U.S. detention. Some have been killed in combat in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” A July 2007 National Public Radio piece reported that the Pentagon could positively identify seven former detainees who “returned to the battlefield” after being set free.