Archbishop compares Bush to Ugandan dictator - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 23, 2006

Archbishop compares Bush to Ugandan dictator

-23/02/06

The Archbishop of York has compared George W Bush to the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and said that the President is perversely applying rules which apply in a war situation, to Guantanamo Bay.

Himself Ugandan born, John Sentamu was forced to flee the country after criticising former dictator Idi Amin.

The Archbishop made his comments in response to the suggestion that the Guantanamo Bay situation was an anomaly.

ìThis is not an anomaly," he said.

"By 'declaring war on terror' President Bush is perversely applying the rules of engagement which apply in a war situation. But the prisoners are not being regularly visited by the Red Cross or Red Crescent, which is required by the Geneva Convention. They were not even allowed to be interviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Group.

"In Uganda President Amin did something similar: he did not imprison suspects because he knew that in prison the law would apply to them, so he created special places to keep them. If the Guantanamo Bay detainees were on American soil, the law would apply. This is a breach of international law and a blight on the conscience of America."

The Archbishop has previously accused the US Government of breaking international law.

"Whatever they may say about democracy, to hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwellís Animal Farm" the archbishop said.

"The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, is innocent until proved otherwise and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility.

"We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations. I back the United Nations Human Rights Commission report, recommending that the US try all the detainees, or free them without further delay. If the US refuses to respond, maybe the Commission should seek a writ of Habeas Corpus in a United States Court, or at the Hague.î

Bishops in the UK have been campaigning since 2003 for the rights of British detainees at the camp.

Seven Christians protesting the denial of rights to prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base face jail terms of up to 10 years for their protests against it.

In 2004, the World Council of Churches also focused its attention on US torture at the Base.

Archbishop compares Bush to Ugandan dictator

-23/02/06

The Archbishop of York has compared George W Bush to the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and said that the President is perversely applying rules which apply in a war situation, to Guantanamo Bay.

Himself Ugandan born, John Sentamu was forced to flee the country after criticising former dictator Idi Amin.

The Archbishop made his comments in response to the suggestion that the Guantanamo Bay situation was an anomaly.

'This is not an anomaly," he said.

"By 'declaring war on terror' President Bush is perversely applying the rules of engagement which apply in a war situation. But the prisoners are not being regularly visited by the Red Cross or Red Crescent, which is required by the Geneva Convention. They were not even allowed to be interviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Group.

"In Uganda President Amin did something similar: he did not imprison suspects because he knew that in prison the law would apply to them, so he created special places to keep them. If the Guantanamo Bay detainees were on American soil, the law would apply. This is a breach of international law and a blight on the conscience of America."

The Archbishop has previously accused the US Government of breaking international law.

"Whatever they may say about democracy, to hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm" the archbishop said.

"The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, is innocent until proved otherwise and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility.

"We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations. I back the United Nations Human Rights Commission report, recommending that the US try all the detainees, or free them without further delay. If the US refuses to respond, maybe the Commission should seek a writ of Habeas Corpus in a United States Court, or at the Hague.'

Bishops in the UK have been campaigning since 2003 for the rights of British detainees at the camp.

Seven Christians protesting the denial of rights to prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base face jail terms of up to 10 years for their protests against it.

In 2004, the World Council of Churches also focused its attention on US torture at the Base.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.