No more torture in our name
By Louise Nousratpour
Morning Star, 10 October 2007
AMNESTY International UK launched a hard-hitting campaign on Monday against human rights abuses in the name of the “war on terror.” The human rights organisation called on people to make a stand against terrorism and against civil liberties being eroded by governments claiming to fight al-Qaida. The billboard and internet campaign is called Unsubscribe, after the process that internet users use to reject unwanted emails.
Speaking at a launch event in Birmingham, Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “Unsubscribe is about rejecting the false choice between terrorism on the one hand and abuse of human rights on the other.” She stressed people’s opposition to the government’s detention without charge or trial of terror suspects under the pretext of national security. “They believe people have a right to know why they are being detained and they believe in the right to have a fair trial if someone is suspected of a serious offence,” Ms Allen added.
As part of the campaign, Amnesty has launched a powerful new two-minute drama film depicting the suffering of a hooded prisoner undergoing “stress and duress” torture by an unnamed man in plain clothes. In the film, which is called Waiting for the Guard and can be seen online at www.unsubscribe-me.org, the prisoner is seen stripped to his underwear in an underground chamber and forced to sit with his head a knee level.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg said that the Unsubscribe film brought back unpleasant memories. “You cannot imagine that happening to anybody, let alone yourself,” said Mr Begg, who was held without charge for two years at the notorious US prison camp. “The way that I tried almost to tackle it was to say that it didn’t happen to me, it happened to someone else.”
Mr Begg said that worse abuses of human rights go on in “ghost” detention camps, referring to widely reported secret CIA “torture camps” that are scattered across the world. “These kinds of things continue to exist. Perhaps they don’t happen at Guantanamo any more, but there are other sites that people have to pass through,” he warned. “By the time I was sent to Guantanamo, I was looking forward to it.”
National Union of Students president Gemma Tumulty said that the campaign would give millions of students in Britain a voice to their “instinctive feeling that something has been going badly wrong in the ‘war on terror’.”
Amnesty will also display a series of hard-hitting billboard posters across the country. They will reproduce some of the most infamous images of human rights abuses from the “war on terror”. The images include an Abu Ghraib prisoner in Iraq being attacked by a dog and a Guantanamo Bay detainee being abused. The posters all bear the message Unsubscribe and will be displayed during October on the streets of Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.