Demonstration video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKuP1bgTerU&feature=youtube_gdata
On the evening of Friday, November 1st, human rights activists entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, New York to call attention to the issue of the solitary confinement and the illegal imprisonment and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo bay. Activists peacefully entered the MET grand balcony, dropping a banner that read “End Torture, Close Guantanamo Now!” in the midst of a crowd of a few hundred visitors and singing activists. Organizers immediately started a mic check, which dispersed throughout the crowd of 20 or more strong voices who were repeating the words of the organizers. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen! We hope you’re enjoying this beautiful art and culture! Tragically, America also has a culture of torture at Guantanamo Bay. 164 men are detained without end, and most have never been charged with a crime! The torture continues here, in US prisons, where 80,000 people waste away in solitary confinement. Brothers and sisters are tortured in our name, let’s unite to demand justice now! Thank you for your time, and please join us in the struggle for human rights.”
In efforts to bring back attention to the illegal prison in Guantanamo, activists felt the urgent need to discuss President Barack Obama’s broken campaign promises and the recent rise of entrapments, illegal detainment and torture of Muslims all over the world during this current war on terror. Over $2 trillion have been spent on our illegal occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and American prisoner practices have exceedingly disobeyed international humanitarian laws. Prisoners like Djamel Ameziane, who was a painter and chef from Algeria and has been detained without charge at the US Military Prison at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. He has been cleared for release in 2008 and now in the 9th month of a hunger strike. Over 30,000 prisoners at Pelican Bay and various other criminalization institutions in America are on hunger strike, and continue to demand better conditions of their imprisonment. Many of these prisoners are victims of solitary confinement, a practice deemed as equivalentto psychological terrorism by international human rights activists. There are millions of prisoners, including the 160 Muslim brothers who are victims of the American illegal war(s) on terror, being tortured, whether it be by force feeding or indefinite detention!
The Center for Constitutional Rights, human rights lawyers and activists allied with Witness Against Torture, anti-incarceration organizations like the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Campaign for Alternatives to Solitary Confinement, and The American Friends and Service Committee have all united in efforts to address the torture system of American imprisonment, and it is time for us to join the fight. Over fifteen prisoners remain on hunger strike in Guantanamo bay, where they are organizing against their illegal detainment after many of them have received approval for dismissal. Many of the 160 prisoners have yet to see a judge for their case, and continue to show resistance through private meetings with their lawyers who have been fighting over fifteen years for their release. They have asked for the public to join in their struggle by contacting local congresspersons, or write the New York State governor Andrew Cuomo.
After dropping the banner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, crowds of people exited asthey sang “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. We gotta close Guantanamo today, stop torture now!” A woman came up to the demonstrators in tears and appreciation for the action, saying it made her emotional because of her knowledge of prison culture and the overwhelming amounts of illegal practices the American government participates in.
Demonstrators at the Blue Lantern Project are demanding public attention to the issue and practice of solitary confinement, as well as the abuse of government power to create a mass prison industrial complex that continues to marginalize and criminalize Black and brown men. The struggle for human rights is connected to the resistance against criminalization and the continuous violence against innocent humans.