Examining and Understanding the Arrest of Moazaam Begg, Former Guantanamo Prisoner and Human Rights Activist

Jill McLaughlin | March 2, 2014

Moazaam Begg was captured in 2002 in the western imperialist “war on terror”. The British citizen of Pakistani descent was held for a time at Bagram Airforce Base in Afghanistan and then transferred to Guantanamo Bay Detention Center where he was detained without charge or trial for three years before he was released and repatriated to the U.K.

Since his release Begg has spoken out about his ordeal, but has also courageously spoken out on the abuses of the U.K. Government in numerous other cases of alleged torture and abuse. Most recently Begg had been investigating and writing about abuses of the U.K. government in Syria. Begg had gone to Syria to talk to victims who claim that the U.K. government had sent prisoners to Syria to be tortured.

In a recent article by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain it is noted that Begg was repeatedly harassed by the U.K. Government with repeated interrogations and having his passport taken from him in December 2012.

Begg’s arrest for terrorism related reasons now is suspicious and dubious given his history as a former Guantanamo detainee and now human rights activist investigating the U.K. government involvement in torture in the endless U.S. led war of terror. It should be understood as an attempt by western imperialist governments to repress and squash any hint of dissent against government crimes-crimes that it must carry out to retain influence and dominance around the globe. Begg’s own words that appear in the article by Greenwald and Hussain highlight this point “I am certain that the only reason I am being continually harassed….[is because of] investigations and assertions based on hard evidence that British governments, past and present, have been wilfully complicit in torture.” But we should follow this to a deeper point which is that when governments engage in crimes to maintain empire and these crimes are being exposed it calls into question their very legitimacy — and when their legitimacy is called into question their answer is repression in order to continue their crimes.

It is when incidents like these happen that people of conscience need to think critically and act courageously. People must both explore and understand the crimes behind the repression and stand up and speak out for those being repressed.