The arrival of the excellent Cageprisoners tour, in Bristol on 12 January, provides an excellent opportunity to hear about the experiences of both prisoners and their guards at the infamous and inhumane prison known as Guantanamo Bay. The event takes place from 7.30pm at the Kuumba centre, 20-23 Hepburn Rd, Bristol BS2 8UB. Come early! More details on the Cageprisoners website at http://www.cageprisoners.com/tour
Whilst the powerful and moving words of Mozzam Begg have been heard before in Bristol, other speakers will be new to us, not least the former US guard Chris Arendt. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arendt nearly didn’t make it over. Arriving in the UK last Thursday, he was held for 7 hours by the UK Border Agency. Only the apparent intervention of a Labour MP eased his entry – see report here http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=27390
That sorry little tale of revenge by the UK state against someone who has broken ranks, serves as a reminder of what a prison our society is becoming, and that Guantanamo is just one example of the authoritarian state. The introduction to a recent leaflet by our friends at Brighton ABC is worth quoting here (from Why Do We All Live In Prison):
“There is a place in this society where one is perpetually under surveillance, where every movement is monitored and controlled, where everyone is under suspicion except the police and their bosses, where all are assumed to be criminals. I am speaking, of course, of prison…
But at an ever-quickening pace, this description can be applied to our mutual social arena. Shopping malls, housing estates and the business districts of major cities are under video surveillance. Private security firms continually creep into our public spaces. The introduction of electronic tagging and curfews normalises the idea of incarceration. One is subject to search at airports and ferry terminals. Police helicopters hover menacingly over cities and the countryside in search of crime. The methodology of imprisonment, which is one with the methodology of the police, is gradually being imposed over the entire social landscape.”
Until all are free!