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Wikileaks: Irish Government Knew They Were in Violation of Torture Conventions

Slowly but surely the entire shameful truth is coming out about Shannon airport, CIA renditions, and the lengths the Irish government went to avoid the evidence. One of the first Dublin embassy cables from Wikileaks confirmed that the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern knew about the CIA’s use of Shannon for its renditions. The latest Dublin cable (full text below) shows that they knew this meant they were in violation of torture conventions. Yet they did nothing to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities, preferring instead to avoid political difficulty.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks on 14 January, an unnamed individual who met with the U.S. embassy’s deputy chief of mission (DCM) in Dublin told the embassy

“were a plane to include Shannon in an itinerary that also included transporting prisoners, GOI [government of Ireland] lawyers might be forced to conclude that the GOI itself was in violation of torture conventions”.

Warplanes Refuelling at Shannon but Gardai Still Refuse to Investigate

Hercules MC-130P at Shannon, 9th January 2011Shannon airport has played a despicable role in the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is continuing today, and the evidence was visible for all to see on Sunday 9th January as two US warplanes sat at the airport. One of these was a Hercules MC-130P 66-0216 special operations warplane. It is known as a Combat Shadow because of the subversive roles that it plays, not only in war zones, but also on so-called special operations in other countries. These operations are frequently denied by the U.S. Government.

This is not the MC-130P's first visit to Shannon. It refuelled here also in 2005 (see a photograph of the aircraft at Shannon on this jetphotos webpage) and probably multiple times in the meantime.

Remembering the Victims of Torture in Guantánamo

Shannonwatch Vigil 9th Jan 2011 remembers the forgotten prisoners still in GuantánamoMargaret Mead, the U.S. anthropologist and author once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” With that in mind, 11 people gathered at Shannon today to protest against the collusion of the airport and the Irish government in U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the airport is also known to have assisted the CIA crews taking kidnapped men and boys to Guantanamo Bay where they were systematically tortured, the group also remembered the men who died there as a result of this torture, and the 174 men still illegally detained in Guantanamo.

U.S. Military Still Using Shannon Like they Own it

The December 2010 Shannonwatch logs show that the number of commercial aircraft carrying troops though Shannon Airport has remained steadily around the same numbers for the last three months. In the last month of the year 61 Omni Air International flights were recorded landed at the airport. Other commercial airlines such as World Airways and North American airlines regularly pass though Irish airspace carrying U.S. troops to and from Iraq and Afghanistan but only Omni Air lands to use the facilities at Shannon. An average of 5 to 6 troops flights per day used Irish airspace in December.

Over 1,600 People Killed in Pakistan by CIA Drones in Last Two Years

A total of 2,043 Pakistanis have been killed in CIA drone strikes in the past 5 years according to a new report from the Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC). The vast majority of them innocent civilians. Over 1,600 of these were killed since Barack Obama became U.S. President at the start of 2009.

When President Bush was in office drone strikes were a comparative rarity, but they have been dramatically escalated by President Obama. They usually occur in retaliation for attacks by militant groups. CMC termed the program an “assassination campaign turning out to be a revenge campaign.”

According to the report 134 drone attacks were reported in Pakistan’s FATA region in 2010 alone. These inflicted 929 causalities. On one day alone last month (December 17) three drone attacks killed 54 people in Khyber Agency.

Guantánamo - Nine Years of Torture and Injustice

“The existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained... By any measure, the costs of keeping Guantanamo open far exceed the complications involved in closing it... That is why I ordered it closed within one year.”
- President Barack Obama, May 21, 2009

January 11th 2011 marks the beginning of the 10th year of confinement, abuse and injustice for the men at Guantánamo. There are 174 men still imprisoned there, despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s promise to close it and to end torture.

Not only has President Obama failed to close Guantánamo, he has also failed to renounce extraordinary rendition and to hold former President Bush and his administration accountable for torturing prisoners in Guantanamo and in other locations around the world.