Amnesty International Brings Guantanamo Cell Replica to Portland, ME

Tour Aims to Increase Public Awareness and Mount Pressure on the Bush Administration to Close Detention Facility, Says Human Rights Group PORTLAND, Maine , June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA...


Tour Aims to Increase Public Awareness and Mount Pressure on the Bush Administration to Close Detention Facility, Says Human Rights Group

PORTLAND, Maine , June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) brought its national tour of a life-size Guantanamo prison cell replica to Portland, Maine . These stops are to help increase public awareness and mount pressure on the Bush administration to close down the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba .

AIUSA members and other activists gathered at Monument Square in downtown Portland to experience the cell and show their support for the immediate closure of this prison facility. Many participants, dressed in Guantanamo-style orange boiler-suits, held signs urging the U.S. government to stop the torture, end indefinite detentions without charge or trial and shut down Guantanamo.

"Standing inside the constricting Guantanamo cell replica, I could not believe that the U.S. government considers this -- solitary confinement, stress positions, lack of habeas corpus and indefinite detention -- 'appropriate justice,'" said Larry Cox , AIUSA executive director, who spoke at the event. "At a time when Americans are clamoring for an end to terror, the Bush administration looks for ways to expand its powers through dubious legal lingo and continue its unlawful assault on the rule of law. When Americans want justice for specific crimes, we get arbitrary human sacrifice."

The cell is an exact replica which includes a steel toilet, florescent lights, frosted windows and a sliding metal door. In addition, visitors may record a 30-second reaction video that will be posted on youtube.com and tearitdown.org, as well as sign the global petition to shut Guantanamo down.

Other speakers at the Portland event included Rachel Talbot Ross , president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( Portland branch), Jack Bussell , board member of Maine Veterans for Peace, Reverend Jill Saxby of the Maine Council of Churches, Danny Muller , executive director of Peace Action Maine and Shenna Bellows , executive director for Maine Civil Liberties Union.

Americans across the nation will have an opportunity to obtain a tangible glimpse into the life of a Guantanamo detainee and have their voice heard in denouncing the Bush administration's unlawful policies carried out in the name of national security. The tour was launched in Miami, Florida . After Portland , the tour will continue to Washington, DC . There are more stops being planned for the Midwest and West Coast.

Five former U.S. Secretaries of State who served both Republican and Democratic presidents -- Madeline Albright , James Baker , Warren Christopher , Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell -- concurred at a recent University of Georgia roundtable discussion that closing the detention facility is important to bolstering the United States' image abroad. Even the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay Colonel Morris Davis denounced the use of torture-tainted evidence in detainee trials. President Bush himself said he'd "like Guantanamo to end."

"Guantanamo continues to be the shameful global icon of this administration's outright disregard for basic human dignity and the rule of law," said Larry Cox , AIUSA executive director. "By assaulting core American values, including the right to challenge one's incarceration, and allowing techniques long associated with dictators and despots, President Bush has squandered the United States' moral leadership around the world. It's time to remove the ugly blot on the America we believe in and shut down Guantanamo."

Later this evening, there will be another public event featuring Cox, Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center for Constitutional Rights and Jameel Jaffer from the American Civil Liberties Union. The panel event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Rines Auditorium at the Portland Public Library.

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