On January 10th eight people braved the cold conditions at Shannon to highlight the broken promises of the US president and the Irish government over Guantanamo and renditions. Shannon airport is known to have facilitated the illegal US rendition programme and may even continue to do so.
On taking office, US President Obama committed his administration to closing Guantanamo within a year. But the process of releasing, relocating or prosecuting the men that are still detained there has stalled. On this, the 8th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, it is shameful that almost 200 prisoners still remain in inhumane detention there. They have been separated from their families for most of those eight years. They have been tortured. And the US government has acknowledged it has no evidence on most if not all of them. But they remain in illegal detention.
In Ireland the Government’s lack of progress in carrying out a review of the law on searching suspected renditions flights is also quite shameful. In November 2008 they announced the set up of a Cabinet committee to review the law and ensure Gardaí had the power to board and search suspected rendition flights. To date there has been no sign of this review.
Shannon’s role in facilitating renditions has been well documented (see the Amnesty International report, 'Breaking the Chain: Ending Ireland’s role in renditions' at http://www.amnesty.ie/amnesty/upload/images/amnesty_ie/...n.pdf). And this support for illegal CIA kidnapping and torture may well be continuing. In December Shannonwatch announced that since March 2009, five aircraft that have been linked to renditions have been recorded at the airport (see 'Shannon Airport may still be a Stop-off for Illegal Rendition Flights' at http://www.shannonwatch.org/suspect_rendition_flights_2...9.htm). Even though the Obama administration announced that the CIA's torturous interrogation program was to end and that its secret prisons were being shuttered, the CIA is still permitted to carry out renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US. Without action from the Irish government Shannon may still be aiding and abetting torture.
The vigil on Jan 10th showed that opposition to what is happening at Shannon will continue until effective action is taken by the government to end it. So too will the GArda presence it seems. They were on hand as usual on Sunday to protect the public from the truth - with vans, police cars, metal barriers and over a dozen officers in position to deny eight peaceful protesters access to the airport. As the uniformed men and women that blocked the road shifted uncomfortably, it was not clear if it was the cold or their consciences that was the problem.
Shannonwatch is grateful to their friends and colleagues in Galway Alliance Against War who braved the weather conditions to travel to Shannon on Sunday for the vigil.
Amnesty International: [Irish] Government failing on renditions as world marks 8 years of Guantánamo (http://www.amnesty.ie/live/irish/article.asp?id=39084&p...ge=00)
Witness Against Torture Fast and Vigil to Shut Down Guantanamo, End Torture and Build Justice, January 11-22, 2010 (http://witnesstorture.org/2010)