24 June 2008

Shannon linked again to CIA 'Rendition' Flights

Amnesty International says it has collected evidence that shows that three aircraft involved in US rendition flights had links to Shannon Airport.

As part of a week of events to mark the International Day against Torture, the human rights group has published a report on Europe's role in US rendition and secret detention.

In their latest report Amnesty International accuses a number of European states of either turning a blind eye to rendition or actively participating in it. The report highlights six cases involving 13 individuals, three of which have links to Shannon Airport.

In the case of one man - Abu Omar - the report says the aircraft that took him from Germany to Egypt eventually returned to the USA via Shannon.

In the case of another man - Khaled al-Maqtari - the report says the aeroplane which took him from Iraq to Afghanistan had previously stopped and refuelled at Shannon.

And in a third case, Amnesty says the aircraft that took Khaled el-Masri from Macedonia to Afghanistan had also stopped and refuelled at Shannon.

In response, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Irish government is "completely opposed to the practice of the rendition of prisoners". In a statement it said that no evidence has ever been produced that any person has ever been subject to 'extraordinary rendition' through Ireland.

That might well be the case, but nevertheless Ireland continues to be a low-level supporter and supplier of services to the USA in their war against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. US troop transporters land and refuel at Shannon regularly, and so do other US aircraft, military as well as civilian, including those used by the CIA. Even if there was no prisoner on board (which is at this stage neither to prove or disprove), three executive jets of the CIA - known to be used for the 'extraordinary rendition' - landed and refuelled at Shannon Airport. Thus we did, even though in a minor and indirect way, support the cruel and illegal CIA practice of torture which breaks not only natural but also international law.

By allowing the USA to use Shannon Airport at will for refuelling and stop-overs of their aircraft, the government of Bertie Ahern has abandoned Ireland's neutrality and thus sold out a sacred and long-established principle of Irish politics and independence. The consequences of this and the price we will have to pay for it long-term can only be imagined at this time.

The Emerald Islander

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