A statement from VVAW AI Germany, Cologne 13.01.02

"Our grief is not a cry for war."
Nor for concentration camps and
torture of prisoners.
by Darnell Summers

For the past few days the U.S. military has been transporting suspected members of the Taliban & Al Queada from a military prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to another prison on the island of Cuba at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay. This base was originally leased to the U.S. government by the new Cuban government installed after the war between the U.S. & Spain in 1898, a war which ended hundreds of years Spanish colonial rule in the Caribbean & South Pacific (Guam & the Philippines in particular) and resulted in the loss of their stolen treasures to the U.S. I watched as the military guards paraded their captives in front of the TV cameras at Kandahar, bragging openly that they had been sedated and shackled like animals. The captives were then dragged along blindfolded like slaves to auction. They were forced on to the plane and believe me this was no charter flight to Mallorca. A few buckets were set among the prisoners to serve as toilets. It was outrageous.

When they landed in Cuba they were again paraded in front of a disgusting array of reporters and cameras, then led into another facility where they were thrown in open cages and exposed to the elements 24 hours a day. America has a long history of running prisons, with 25% of all prisoners that are locked up in the world being locked up in the U.S.

I couldn't escape the irony of the situation. Brown and black bodies being brought to Cuba again. This island used to be the biggest breeding station of slaves in the New World. And once more they were being brought, by their white masters--the protectors of the "Holy Grail", to sit somewhere and rot. I sat there and thought of my own experiences for I too was once a prisoner of the U.S. military. I know first hand how brutal they are. I saw them use the same tactics against their own soldiers at the notorious Army Prison at Long Binh Viet Nam, LBJ, where I was a held captive in 1968, the first and worst of several such places I would experience. The Daily Beatings, Torture & Terror, there's no other way to explain it. I resisted, I was beaten. I was one among thousands of American soldiers who had experienced this same form of Justice and Democracy. The spectacle of it all, the deceit, the arrogance, the cold-blooded murder. The utter disregard for human dignity.

They say they're only protecting their way of life. Well, their right to live means untold millions must die to serve that end and that includes the victims who died and those who were injured during the World Trade Center attack.

I sat in front of the TV and searched the faces of the U.S. soldiers looking for that telltale sign of fear in their expressions, I knew what to look for, I had seen it in my own face. You can feel it somewhere in your stomach and your face has a mind of its own. A fear generated by the realization that you don't want to be where you are. You want out, but you're thousands of miles away from home, killing and bombing in someone else's country. Setting it up for the kill, making it ready and ripe for rape, pillage and plunder. A strange mix of apprehension and doubt.

I found what I had searched for across the TV screen. The U.S. and its Allies along with a few other petty-thief states are sending a message loud and clear. Whether Viet Nam, The Balkans, Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, there's a plan and a Modus Operandi.

It's important that I stand here today in front of this audience being able to speak to all of you as an eyewitness to their treachery and victim of their crimes. We are here to discuss and express in many forms what we can, what we should, what we must do. The role that veterans can play is crucial. We are the direct link to the soldiers fighting today. We must confront them. We must show them a way out of their situation.

One thing is certain, as they boast that the world has changed forever and that they are in charge and everything is under control and we should all return to our desks because the fire is next door and not in our building, the reality is that the outcome is uncertain and many things are possible.

Let me read something that I think speaks to the present situation, it's from an article written by Howard Zinn, a prominent American historian.

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. ... Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem."

Thank you

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