Thinking Anglicans

Sentamu on Guantanamo Bay

Recently, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu was reported in the Independent as saying:

The Americans are breaking international law it is a society heading towards Animal Farm.

There is a report on this also in the CEN Archbishop attacks Guantanamo camp.

There is also a report in the Church Times Guantanamo is Animal Farm, Sentamu says.

On Thursday, he issued a further press statement, which is reproduced below the fold.

Update Friday’s Times newspaper carries this:
Blair condones Amin-style tactics against terrorism, says Archbishop

Statement from the Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, said today (23/02/06) in response to the suggestion that the Guantanamo Bay situation was an anomaly:

“This is not an anomaly. By “declaring war on terror” President Bush is perversely applying the rules of engagement which apply in a war situation. But the prisoners are not being regularly visited by the Red Cross or Red Crescent, which is required by the Geneva Convention. They were not even allowed to be interviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Group.

In Uganda President Amin did something similar: he did not imprison suspects because he knew that in prison the law would apply to them, so he created special places to keep them. If the Guantanamo Bay detainees were on American soil, the law would apply. This is a breach of international law and a blight on the conscience of America.”

The Archbishop had previously said (17/02/06)

“The American Government is breaking international law. Whatever they may say about democracy, to hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, is innocent until proved otherwise and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility.

We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations. I back the United Nations Human Rights Commission report, recommending that the US try all the detainees, or free them without further delay. If the US refuses to respond, maybe the Commission should seek a writ of Habeas Corpus in a United States Court, or at the Hague.”


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symbulosPeter LearblsPrior AelredJohn Henry Recent comment authors
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Prior Aelred

Once again John Ebor continues to impress (although I would have thought 1984 more apt than Animal Farm, but that’s just me). I do hope that people around the world understand that not all Americans support the policies of the Bush adminstration (to put it mildly).


“The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, is innocent until proved otherwise and has the right to legal representation.” When will Archbishop of York John Sentamu speak out against Nigeria’s new laws criminalizing homosexuality, laws which criminalize even advocating for gay rights? More to the point: When will he – or anyone – speak against the Anglican Church in Nigeria’s open support for these laws? These fellows certainly are busybodies on everything but the things that concern them – or the things that are too difficult to deal with and which… Read more »

John Henry
John Henry

Archbishop John Sentamu is making a valid point. The George W Bush Administration’s failure to listen to the world community with regard to the U.S. violations of international law at Guantanamo is a disgrace. George W and Dick Cheney ought to be held accountable by an international court of justice.

Prior Aelred

bls —
I concede your point — it would be good for Sentamu to speak out against the Anglican Church in Nigeria’s support of anti-gay legislation — or Akinola’s firey rhetoric encouraging the riots that have led to the deaths of hundreds of Muslims.

But he was right on this one.


Yes, I agree with him, Prior Aelred, and have said so many times. I just copied the post word-for-word from the previous one on Rowan WIlliams; it was easy enough to do.

Peter Lear
Peter Lear

I agreed with ++ John’s criticism of Guantanamo. We need more prophetic voices raise against such blatant injustice. I hope many will, as I have done, send a personal note of support to the Archbishop. I am sure it helps him to know that he is not a lone voice on this and other issues.


Does anyone know where to find the whole text of the two speeches?

Are they letters or speeches?

Thanks in advance.

SS replies: they were press statements: these are the full texts.