How to protest Guantanamo Bay? | Belfast and Beyond | 8 Jan 2008 | Amnesty International UK

How to protest Guantanamo Bay?

I must admit that my gut reaction was one of discomfort:  would we manifest our solidarity with the victims of CIA waterboarding with a parody of this torture in a Belfast swimming pool?  I think my unease comes down to this.  The American powers running Guantanamo have readily given us this spectacle of men in orange jumpsuits.  It is not something that they have tried to hide from the world.  On the contrary, they have proudly beamed around the world their images of men forced out of their own clothes into jumpsuits and shackles, a symbol of degradation and humiliation under their oppressors banner of a deeply perverse and immoral concept of liberty.  It is their equivalent of the Nazis shaving the heads of the Jews.For protestors, of course, the orange jumpsuits have become an international symbol of injustice, of which Guantanamo Bay is tip of the iceberg, representing the horrors from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib, to the black sites of extraordinary rendition operations.  The orange jumpsuit equally symbolizes abuses on our own territory  the immigrant detention centres, detention of terrorist suspects without trial date or access to the information against them, which are all part of the global machinery of arbitrary detention, inhuman, exceptional measures and disregard of the rule of law under the guise of the so-called war on terror.By parodying the symbol of the jumpsuit, Amnesty can express its deepest disdain for the existence of all these abuses.  But I will feel more comfortable marching without a costume; showing the reality instead of parodying it.  The reality is that those who wear the orange jumpsuits are our neighbours and our friends neighbours.  Amnesty would be better off demonstrating what the oppressors have tried to cover up:  that, underneath the costume, the inmates are just like you or I.  That we are all inmates of Guantanamo Bay.

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