Guantanamo's No Gulag
Despite what Amnesty International and Sen. Dick Durbin have said, the prison at Guantanamo Bay is not a "gulag of our time." At least not according to someone who should know: Pavel Litvinov, a dissident who was once imprisoned by the former Soviet Union for his beliefs. In an article from Saturday's Washington Post, Litvinov shares: . . .
By any standard, Guantanamo and similar American-run prisons elsewhere do not resemble, in their conditions of detention or their scale, the concentration camp system that was at the core of a totalitarian communist system.
For example, incidents of desecration of the Koran in Guantanamo by U.S. personnel have been widely reported. But those Korans were surely not brought to Guantanamo by the prisoners themselves from Afghanistan. They were supplied by the U.S. administration -- in spite of the obvious fact that most of the prisoners misguidedly found in the Koran the inspiration for their violent hatred of the United States.
By contrast, Russian author Andrei Sinyavsky, who was sentenced in 1966 to seven years' forced labor for his writing, was approached one evening soon after his arrival in a labor camp by a prisoner who quietly asked Sinyavsky whether he wanted to listen to a recital of the biblical account of the apocalypse. (Possession of a Bible was strictly prohibited in the gulag.) The man took Sinyavsky to the furnace room, where a group of people were squatting in the dark recesses. In the light of the furnace flame, one of the men got up and started to recite the biblical passages by heart. When he stopped, the stoker, an old man, said: "And now you, Fyodor, continue." Fyodor got up and recited from the next chapter. The whole text of the Bible was distributed among these prisoners, ordinary Russians who were spending 10 to 25 years in the gulag for their religious beliefs. They knew the texts by heart and met regularly to repeat them so that they would not forget.
Hat tip to Ed Veith at World Magazine Blog.