Rene — British Artist Brings Guantanamo Bay to Manchester

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British Artist Brings Guantanamo Bay to Manchester
By Gideon Long
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – A British artist is building a
life-size copy of Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Delta in a bid to make Britons
aware of the conditions in which detainees are being held at the
U.S. military base on Cuba.
The camp will cover an area about the size of a soccer pitch on
wasteland in the northern city of Manchester.
Like the original, it will have a guards’ mess, a prisoners’
dormitory, a parade ground, floodlights, a sentry post and a perimeter
fence topped with barbed wire.
Loudspeakers will be used to play the U.S. national anthem each
morning and the Islamic call to prayer three times a day.
Nine volunteers, one for each of the nine British prisoners believed
to be held at Guantanamo Bay, will be kept under guard in the camp for
nine days.
They will be fed soup, beans and rice — prepared in accordance with
Muslim Halal law — and will be interrogated in sessions which will be
broadcast live on local radio.
When the camp is unveiled later this week, the public will be able to
walk around it and peer at prisoners through the fence.
Jai Redman, the artist behind the project, says he wants to see how
people react when they see a replica Camp Delta with their own eyes
rather than television images of the real camp.
“It’s designed to reflect not the actual place but the media’s
representation of the camp,” he told Reuters as he hacked away at the
stony ground where the camp is being built.
“It’s a mirror of a mirror.”
The real Camp Delta, formerly known as Camp X-Ray, has become a
controversial symbol of what many see as the draconian measures the
U.S. government has taken in its self-declared war on terror.
The Americans are holding around 600 detainees in the camp, most of
them arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan during and after the fight
to topple the Taliban regime in Kabul.
The U.S. describes the detainees as “enemy combatants” rather than
prisoners of war and has denied them their legal rights under the
Geneva Convention. It says, however, it is treating the detainees
Two of the prisoners at the real Camp Delta are from Manchester.
“We’ve trying to contact the families of the prisoners to invite them
here but we don’t want to tread on toes,” Redman said.
“If they think this can help in their campaign to free their sons then
it would be great, but I don’t want to be seen as speaking for other
people or indeed satirizing something that is actually very serious.”
Redman said that while he had tried to recreate Camp Delta as
accurately as possible, he has had to make allowances for Manchester’s
notoriously inclement weather.
“Obviously Cuba is a lot warmer,” he said. “If we kept our inmates in
open cages like they do in Guantanamo Bay we’d probably kill them
overnight, which isn’t really the aim.”