YESTERDAY’S announcement by the coalition government that it has agreed to make huge payments to former detainees at the notorious Guantanamo Bay concentration camp is designed to bring the lid down on any further exposures of the British state’s role as one of the world’s main torturers.
The payment of millions of pounds of compensation to at least seven former detainees was agreed by the government, at the urging of the security forces, to prevent up to 500,000 documents ever seeing the light of day in court.
These are documents dealing with the torture and interrogation techniques, and the rendition of British nationals to CIA and other torture sites throughout the world.
Such an offer of massive payouts was most certainly not on the table when a judge ruled that these documents could not be produced because of ‘security considerations’ at an earlier hearing.
Only when the High Court overturned this and ruled them admissible did compensation appear on the table, as if by magic.
Before anyone runs away with the idea that this somehow reflects well on good old British democracy and the rule of law, it must be appreciated that all this judgement did was to force the British state to try to buy silence over its criminal activities.
Equally, the line currently being peddled throughout the bourgeois press, that the ‘settlement’ of these civil claims now opens the way for an independent inquiry into the use of torture by Britain’s security forces, is also a fantasy.
This inquiry, due to report at the end of next year, will go the way of all other inquiries.
Documents withheld, secret sessions and a skilfully written lengthy report that lets the state and its torture specialists off the hook is par for this course.
The torture of innocent people is not something new for British imperialism. It has a long history of murder, torture and acts of inhumanity carried out in the name of subjugating the free peoples of the world.
In the 1950s, during the fight against the Malayan uprising counter-insurgency methods, including concentration camps, murder squads, village burning and torture, were routinely used.
These techniques were honed by British imperialism in suppressing the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, where 90,000 people were interned and alongside murder squads the British state also operated a mobile gallows that travelled the country executing 1,000 Kenyans.
The lessons learnt by the British state in these ‘actions’, as they were euphemistically called, were transferred to the north of Ireland in the 1970s.
There, the methods of internment without trial, no jury courts, torture, and army controlled murder squads became commonplace in an effort to smash the republican movement and subjugate the Irish working class.
The lesson for the working class that emerges from the state’s use of torture, and its willingness at all costs to maintain a protective wall of silence over its activities, is that has no intention of ceasing these brutal activities and that it will not hesitate to use these methods against its own citizens, in the period ahead when it attempts to turn these citizens into paupers.
As workers and young people are more and more forced into confrontation with a capitalist system that is determined to pauperise them to keep itself going, so the state will wage war on the working class using all the barbaric methods it has used throughout its empire.
No amount of public inquiries or court cases can deter the capitalist state, it must be overthrown by a socialist revolution.
This task requires the building up of the revolutionary leadership of the WRP throughout the working class to organise the general strike to bring down this government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
Only under socialism will the torturers and their masters face justice at the hands of the working class, and get their just deserts.