Amnesty International called Guantanamo The Gulag of our time. I agree that Gitmo is in violation of international law and practices ‘torture light’, and is something of an embarassment as a result for a country that claims to fight for human rights, but it is hardly the yardstick of human rights abuses in the 21st century.
There are only about 600 people at Gitmo (compared to some other slave labor camps with hundreds of thousands or millions of inhabitants). Inhabitants there have (as far as I know) access to competent medical care, adequate food, and are free to practice their religions. They are not worked to death and claims of abuse are investigated. The word ‘gulag’ to me reminds me of soviet gulags. In soviet Gulags people worked on railroads in Siberia 16 hours a day in -50F weather on starvation diets while guards beat, raped and tortured them for fun.
Is throwing around a word like ‘gulag’ or ‘gulag of our time’ going to minimize the more destructive human rights violations on earth? What about the slave labor camps in North Korea, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, etc. Isn’t calling the camp at Guantanamo which is a small camp with minor (when looking at global human rights violations) ‘the gulag of our time’ an insult to those in labor camps in Myanmar and North Korea? Won’t this create a ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario where instead of focusing on gross torture allegations by despots people will focus on less serious (but still serious and worth noting and investigating) human rights abuses by western countries?
I suppose because the US is so much more open mediawise than those countries that our abuses are easier to research and look into. And I guess people care more about abuses by the US than they do by North Korea or Myanmar. And I suppose people expect better from the US than from Myanmar. However I don’t see how this label is even remotely productive, it just minimizes the real gulags on earth and takes away the seriousness of gulags and slave labor systems.