Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Torture Awareness Month: The Road to Guantanamo

Another post to mark Torture Awareness Month ...

Here is Amnesty International's official response to the the Guantanamo suicides and while most of my Loyal Readers signed the petition to close Guantanamo ages ago, this is the kind of action that bears repeating. For more AI perspective, Eric Sears, Director of Amnesty International USA's Denounce Torture Initiative, discussed Guantanamo on KPCC's Airtalk yesterday.

This seems as good a time as any to point out that as part of Torture Awareness Month, Amnesty is partnering with the creators of the film The Road to Guantanamo opening later this month:
The Road to Guantanamo is the terrifying first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for more than two years without charges in the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Known as the “Tipton Three,” in reference to their home town near Birmingham, the three were eventually returned to Britain and released—still having had no formal charges ever made against them at any time during their ordeal. The film has already engendered significant controversy due to its critical stance toward the American and British governments. Additional controversy was generated because of the cast members' detainment by British immigration authorities upon their return from the film's premiere at the Berlin film festival.

Part documentary, part dramatization, the film chronicles the sequence of events that led from the trio setting out from Tipton in the British Midlands for a wedding in Pakistan, to their crossing the Afghanistan border just as the U.S. began its bombing campaign, to their eventual capture by the Northern Alliance and their imprisonment in Camp X-Ray and later at Camp Delta in Guantanamo.
One of the "Tipton Three" was interviewed this week on NPR for his reaction to the suicides, and don't miss the article on the film's website about the censoring of the movie poster (uncensored version above) by the Motion Picture Association of America,
Thus, the MPAA's decision puts it at odds with the U.S. government, which has repeatedly defended techniques, including hooding prisoners, as not legally torture, and not inconsistent with the basic American values the MPAA tries to uphold. In a 2003 Department of Defense report, hooding was given a green light, as not inconsistent with the United States' obligations under international conventions or U.S. law. The report also approve prolonged standing, though stipulated that it "should never make the detainee exhausted to the point of weakness or collapse." And that it not be "enforced by physical restraints."

Which means that the MPAA required a change in the image that removed something not deemed torture (hooding) and focused the image on the bound hands and extended arms that clearly depicts someone forced to stand (or worse, hang) under restraint to the point of collapse, which might well be torture.

Kirby Dick, director of "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," a new film devoted to the MPAA and its ratings system, said that's not the only irony in the MPAA's decision. He compares the MPAA's secrecy to the secrecy that has governed so much of what has happened at the prison in Guantanamo and other U.S. facilities where suspects in the war on terror have been held.

"It's also interesting that the image is of someone whose vision is being blocked -- and that's the image that they're blocking," Dick said. "When you get into censorship, the irony never stops."

Time to open our eyes! The film opens in Pasadena on June 23.
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