MEDIA RELEASE – FAIR GO FOR DAVID (Embargoed until 11 January, 2004)


CALL FOR REPORT ON TORTURE AT GUANTANAMO BAY PRISON AS REQUEST FOR INDEPENDENT ENQUIRY FALLS ON DEAF EARS

It is three years since Adelaide born, David Hicks, has been detained at a prison on a US military base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (He was taken to the prison on 12 January, 2001).

Today, Hicks is still waiting on a United States court to decide whether his detention remains an illegal act. Late last year, a US Court ruled his detention was illegal but the American Government has appealed the ruling.

Hicks, who was amongst the first group of people to be detained at the military base, is due to face a military commission on the 15 March.

In the meantime, Fair Go For David, (Hicks' support group) has called on the public to write to the Australian Government to obtain the Red Cross report on the increased use of abuse at the prison.

The group fears abuse at the prison is the worst it has ever been.

David Hick's father, Mr Terry Hicks, said that at least one high ranking American military official, responsible for allowing prison officers to abuse prisoners; at the Abu Graib prison, was at Guantanamo, Bay, before leaving for Abu Graib.

"What happened at Abu Graib has clearly shown that, on occasions, the military is prepared to throw reason out of the window at the drop of a hat," Mr Hicks said.

"Since Abu Graib there have been abuses at Guantanamo Bay and I would say this abusive attitude is probably present throughout the prison there.

"I do not think we are getting all of the information about the detainees and there should be an independent enquiry into the abuses.

"Australia has human rights professionals, psychoanalysts and all that is needed to look into these problems.

"Amnesty International and the American Bar Society are also concerned, yet calls for help are falling on deaf ears as the Australian government chooses to believe the military's report which says everything at Guantanamo Bay is all right and there are no abuses.

"I think the American and Australian governments are afraid of being embarrassed.

Mr Hicks said that David's status was that of an “illegal combatant", something he was classified as by President Bush, and that illegal combatants are not covered by the Geneva Convention.

"On the one hand David is supposedly an illegal combatant, yet Mr Bush talks about the ‘war on terror'. That should make David a prisoner of war," he said.

David Hicks has been charged with; conspiring to commit terrorist acts, conspiring to harm civilians and attempted murder, which were "ridiculous", said Mr Hicks.

"If there is any conspiracy at all it will be in the conspired evidence that will be brought against David, that obtained from other prisoners and evidence obtained from a person who is under a great deal of duress."

He said that David's charges only related to his time in Afghanistan.

"David was charged for just being there -- in Afghanistan. There is no evidence that would stand proper scrutiny indicating otherwise," Mr Hicks said.

Mr Hicks said that Australians had shown how supportive they could be towards others by how they had reacted to the Tsunami victims.

"I believe we can do more to help Australians in need in other parts of the world as well, namely Guantanamo Bay," he said.

Media release written by Tasia Pertsinidis for 'Fair Go For David'


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