The main hall of Friends Meeting House in Euston was packed out last Sunday with people demanding an end to the Guantanamo prison camp and similar institutions.
The meeting was part of a tour, organised by Cage Prisoners, and saw accounts given from both sides of the wire for the first time.
Former prisoners Moazzam Begg and Jarallah al-Marriwere were joined on the platform by an ex-guard from the infamous facility.
Chris Arendt was just 17 when he joined the US national guard. He said, “I’m what you call ‘trailer trash’ in the US. Our options are limited to the army or welfare.”
At Guantanamo he was confronted with the reality of US foreign policy.
He vividly recounted the abuse of prisoners and sheer absurdity of camp life. “Each day at sunset there were two different rituals practised by both sides.
“The soldiers were expected to salute the flag as the national anthem was played. The inmates would answer the call to prayer. The difference was the soldiers would try and avoid their duty but the prisoners looked forward to theirs.”
People discussed the recent softening of president elect Barack Obama’s line on Guantanamo. They pointed out that the legal limbo experienced by Guantanamo inmates will not end with its closure.
And for Obama’s words to carry any substance there must also be the immediate closure of all secret detention and torture facilities like Bagram airbase and an end to the rendition flights that supply them.
For details of further meetings in the nationwide Two Sides One Story tour go to » cageprisoners.com/campaigns.php?id=818