From Socialist Voice, November 2005

Irish and British airports used for torture flights

The Irish government continues the pretence that somehow we are not involved in the war in Iraq now being fought by the United States and its allies, which at this point in time they appear to be losing.
    This year alone it is estimated that more than a thousand US military flights passed either through Irish air space or through Shannon Airport, compared with 872 in 2003 and 973 in 2004. The use of Shannon is now at its greatest level since the Iraqi war started in March 2003.
    Not one US military aircraft that has landed at Shannon has been searched or inspected by the Irish authorities. There have been numerous requests to the Department of Justice to inspect these aircraft to ensure that they are complying with our rules in relation to the shipment of military equipment without permission.
    To add insult to injury, we have to pay for the privilege of the US war machine using our facilities at Shannon Airport. Irish workers will pay €5 million in charges for these flights this year alone; in 2004 we paid €3 million.
    Another area of serious concern is the fact that both Shannon and Aldergrove Airport in Belfast have been used for the transport of prisoners from both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as others who have been kidnapped from numerous other countries illegally by the CIA and brought to third countries that have a notorious reputation for torture. These torture flights are disguised by the use of CIA intelligence jargon. They don’t call it torture any more: it’s “extraordinary rendition.” What this means is that the United Sates and its allies don’t torture suspects directly if they can help it but they subcontract that work out to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and Syria (yes, one of the “rogue states”). These countries carry out the initial torture, breaking the prisoners, who are then handed back to the CIA to be brought to the Guantánamo base—a part of Cuba occupied by the United States.
    Aldergrove is one of nineteen airports in Britain and the north of Ireland that are being used for these secret kidnapping operations. It is estimated that 210 such torture flights have taken place since 2001 from British airports and sometimes using Aldergrove.
    Some of our European neighbours have respect for their own laws and do not completely bow the knee to the Yanks. An example is Denmark, which has banned unauthorised CIA flights from its air space.
    Most if not all European governments, including the Irish and British, have signed the UN Convention Against Torture as well as domestic laws, so not only have they signed up not to use torture but they are obliged to do all in their power to stop it and to bring those who have been accused of torture to justice. Our government, by doing nothing and actively turning a blind eye to US military and CIA flights through Shannon, is complicit in torture and is breaking international and domestic law.
    It is clear that we need to step up the campaign to have Shannon closed to the US military machine, and also Aldergrove. There should be no use of any part of Ireland for the United States and its allies to inflict war, repression and violence on the peoples of the world.

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