Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bataan, Guantanamo, & the Geneva Convention

When I told a Japanese friend that my Dad was stationed in the Philippines during World War II she responded by telling me that the Pacific Theater was the bloodiest and most brutal of all the fronts. That's what my Dad had told me about the Battle of Luzon (he calls it the "liberation of Luzon" - sound familiar?). Only thirteen of the three hundred in his group came back without serious injuries, many died. He always tells us how he survived his hell. During boot camp, a senior officer told him that if he became a specialist with the bazooka he would be safer, because when they marched through the jungle the bazooka guy always marched at the end of the line. The soldiers in the front were often killed.

The Death March from Bataan occurred in April 1942. About 70,000 American and Filipino Prisoners of War were forced to march without food and water for over 300 kilometers. It is estimated that 21,000 Allied soldiers died during the march.

The Bataan Death March is such a big deal that memorials have been built all over the world for the soldiers who participated in the march. There have even been a few movies about it. The word "Bataan" is not one to joke with. It is serious. It represents honor, courage, and patriotism. Japan was charged with War Crimes because of its treatment of the P.O.W.'s.

The highest honor paid the men in Bataan was the naming of a ship. The U.S.S. Bataan was commissioned in 1997. It is part of a fleet of amphibious ships that can also be used for assault purposes.

It is now a floating prison, holding hundreds of incarcerated men whom the U.S. Government believes are terrorists, even though most have not had formal charges placed against them, and only a handful have been given a trial.

Our post on the floating prisons quotes The Guardian of London - which surmises there have been 17 U.S. ships involved in this program.

It is disrespectful to the soldiers of Bataan and to the ship itself to have it used as a prison ship. How ironic that a ship named after a war incident that did not honor the Geneva Convention is now being used as a prison that also does not honor the Geneva Convention.

No comments: