Dangerous Classification of “the lesser human”

GAYA FERNANDO

humanity-uprooted

Image credit: Asudev Humanity Uprooted

Reading two articles on Guantanamo Bay and Australian asylum law black-holes this morning, I scanned these terms with fresh eyes:

“Manipulative Self-Injurious Behaviours”

By May 2011 there had been at least six suicides in Guantánamo that have been reported. During August 2003, there were 23 suicide attempts. The U.S. officials did not say why they had not previously reported the incident.  After this event, the Pentagon reclassified suicides as “manipulative self-injurious behaviors”; camp physicians alleged that detainees do not genuinely wish to end their lives.  Guantanamo Bay officials have reported 41 unsuccessful suicide attempts by 25 detainees since the U.S. began taking prisoners to the base in January 2002.

“High-Value Detainees, Low-Level Participants”

In August 2006, Murat Kurnaz a German legal resident born in Germany, was released from Guantánamo, with no charges after having been held for five years. Check it out…

“Off-shore Processing Centres”

The federal government’s top legal adviser has told Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs that she cannot visit Nauru and Manus Island to assess and act on complaints from asylum seekers about conditions on the islands.  This is despite the centres being set up with Australian money, and at Australia’s behest.  Legal advice from the Solicitor-General, sent to Professor Triggs’ office late last week, argued she did not have the jurisdictional power to hear on Manus and Nauru the complaints of people kept in offshore processing centres. She could still hear and consider complaints from Australia, but would be unable to verify conditions first-hand. Read more…

Classification as cited above has been coined by  States and is applied to persons they consider lesser humans. Wherever it takes place and to whomever, it is a weapon that is not targeting the victim of the label but you, the civic-minded decent human being in society. It is aimed at making you feel comfortable that the torture, abuse and pain of those “lesser humans” are justified; it’s OK. And also that it is OK to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” (during which Guantanamo bay detainees have ‘committed suicide’) in order to obtain intelligence to support the grand objectives of State Security to disproportionate level creating paranoias among the people they aim to protect.

The grand objective

States declare that the objective of  locking some people  away forever is to ensure that they will not return to wage war against the nation; that they need to be isolated  so that they do not pose a threat to society. However others opine that while Guantanamo Bay continues to stay open it will increase recruitment by terror groups who pose a risk of terrorism to the USA.

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People in off-shore processing centres are less sexy in today’s media context. But if they are only processing centres why is it off-limits for the Human Rights Commissioner ? The ‘rights’ are not as ‘human’ as other ‘humans’? Not in these developed countries that do not listen to the United Nations and Amnesty International and numerous citizen action groups and human rights lawyers when it concerns the ‘lesser humans’. They are masters at ignoring advice.

Above: Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

How about the rest of us?

But the perpetrators are not only state representatives. When a nation’s people such as ours is divided into different groups and divided within those groups into diverse stakeholders both local and international and has emerged from a long war with a controversial ending, some groups treat others as though they did not exist as groups of humans with human histories. Some are largely ignored cos they have already been classified as ‘this’ or ‘that by another group. In other words they have been sentenced to indefinite detention cos they are not accepted as part of that community and no one hears em, visits em or cares about em as individuals anymore or what they’ve been through in their human lives.

Then there are those who are seen by another group as needing to apologise on behalf of a State’s activities. They are certainly not given the benefit of any doubt nor excused for human error or innuendo in language. Classification. Then there are other groups that are pushed to the brink of sanity with bombardment of digital material of bloodshed and tortured torsos that they cannot humanly handle after war; a kind of manipulative torture in its own way.

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 1.32.33 PMWe cannot defend our nations; only the values we personally hold as humans.

There are too many torturers and manipulators who have little concern for anything but the grand objective. There are too many gatekeepers and off-shore processors of people whom they hold in indefinite suspicion and demand that these detainees prove their lack of threat and repeatedly affirm their allegiance to the group’s ideals before they are treated the same as other members of that group.

We need less classification and more human voices among us – not among the state security and defence strategists but among us – who have little to do with State Security; we who live normal lives and do not hurt flies. We who buy into these classifications, take part in digital wars and seemingly forget how sharing one history, we’ve shed a lot of blood and how scarred we all are. Could it be acknowledged that we are all on the same journey and that no one else really cares about us Srilankans as much as we ourselves do in the end.

Let us show a little human kindness to each other along the way.

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