How do I aid Guantanamo inmates?
May 6, 2008 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I know it is laughably late in the game, but: I am looking for the names of reputable groups supporting the legal rights of the inmates at Guantanamo prison. Are there any groups out there trying to ignite awareness among the self-involved about what is being done in their country's name? Is there a legal defense fund one could contribute too?

In this past Sunday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof put forth a searing reminder of the tragedy unfolding at Guantanamo. This one column by Kristof, a great human rights watchdog, uncovered the indignation on this issue that simmers behind my solipsistic daily routine of art-making and art-consumption. A few years ago it was easier for me to smooth out my day by characterizing concerns about the prison as professional-protester dorm-room hand-wringing. And unfortunately years later I think the issue remains framed as that for most people. It is easier for most Americans to believe that concern about severe injustice is concocted hysteria than to accept that our leaders are keeping innocent, unlucky guys with families locked up without due process or WHATEVER. For SIX YEARS or more. The hardliners in this country have whipped up a Kafka-esque nightmare for hundreds of innocents, with only a few true terrorists in the mix. Maybe they just don't know what to do with everybody now that they've started this, afraid that releasing 90% of the inmates would be an admission of such ridiculous Solzhenitsyn-style tragic farce that THEY might go to prison. Most days, this is something I sequester to the back of my mind, one of the reasons I don't read the paper. I did read the paper this Sunday, though, and would like some help....
PS: This whole emotional event is interesting and vexing to me as a phenomenon: I read the paper and get upset about something I have known about for years. Past inaction makes me complicit with the endurance of the prison. Luck and circumstance lends me freedom to spend my time on making music etc. Can I intersect art-making and freedom concerns to spend my time in a morally consistent manner? The music will sound like Pete Seeger meets Tangerine Dream (bad) and will be dismissed by listeners like me who don't look to music for politics. And in the piece above, the word-fruit of my Kristof-lit indignation comes out reading like generic hand-wringing, making it easier for readers earlier in their evolution on this issue to dismiss concerns, just as I did in the past.
How to attack issues like Guantanamo with art that doesn't make you throw up? That is question 2.
posted by framedmistake to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Amnesty do excellent work, I'd recommend supporting them as well as any other support you may give to other organisations.

Regarding your second question. I've had this dilemma as well. Some artists such as Banksy have succeeded in turning heads in the mainstream... I don't really have an answer I'm afraid, but I bet most other people in the creative industry feel very similar to you.

An excellent book is Graphic Agitation, also the adbuster magazines are a good source of inspiration.
posted by twistedonion at 10:59 AM on May 6, 2008

Seton Hall Law School, mostly thanks to Prof. Mark Denbaux, has been a leader in the field.
posted by mmf at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2008

First question: Amnesty International; Write/Phone your representative/senator; Human Rights Watch

Second question: I have a fondness for two art pieces inspired by the tragedy of Guantanamo. The first are bright-orange boxer briefs with the words “Fair Trial, My Ass” printed on the backside. The second is a song by Richard Stallman (yes, *that* Richard Stallman) called Guantanamero .
posted by copystar at 6:30 PM on May 6, 2008

Fair trial my arse is a fundraising initiative supporting the work of human rights lawyers, Reprieve who are one of the most important groups representing Gitmo internees.

If you are strongly pro the death penatly you may not wish to support the organisation as they are heavily inovlved in death row appeals. If not, they are a fantastic organisation and could do with some help.
posted by dmt at 3:41 AM on May 7, 2008

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