Six years on - Close Guantanamo Bay
I'm standing outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London W1 and infront of me is my colleague Dougald, looking cold and miserable in a tiny cell with iron bars , wearing an orange boiler suit. We're here as part of Amnesty's all-night vigil in a "Guantanamo Cell" - an iron cage the exact same dimensions as those in which the US is still holding over 250 detainees without trial or charge. It's cold but at least it's stopped raining (and at least I'm not in a boiler suit - press officers get to wear suits and coats).
There was great press attention at 5.30 this afternoon when we set the cage up, with a scrum of photographers all dodging the traffic to get a decent pic and a couple of film crews to boot. And we had some people from The Londonist and Temporary Lapse of Insanity blogs down there too, so hopefully they've given us a good write-up.
What's amazed me though, was the support from passers-by. Cabbies, slightly-drunken tourists and motorbike couriers have all stopped and wished us luck. Tahir, the brother of Omar Deghayes, stopped by to show us support. And a group of paparrazzi who were waiting for Johnny Depp (fresh from the Sweeney Todd premiere)stopped to get some shots of the cage too.
Hopefully this support will translate into a good turnout tomorrow at 10.30 on Friday morning, when we're hoping to fill the whole street with over 400 orange-boiler-suited demonstrators. Similar protests will take place in Washington and other cities around the world.
And hopefully, with the help of the global media, we will heap further pressure on the US authorities to close Guantanamo for good. It's become an ugly symbol of the human rights abuses that have characterised the 'War on Terror'.
Two tourists stopped and had a huddled debate earlier as they looked at the cell. One agreed with Guantanamo; the other agreed with Amnesty. Both, though, could see that people have a right to some kind of a fair trial. And even the gentleman who disagreed with us felt we were right to keep raising the issue - "You've got to keep flying the flag," he said, as he wandered off.
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