EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01AM, THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007
Guantanamo Bay 5th Anniversary 'Celebrations’
Why has Birmingham's HIATT corporation supplied the shackles used during the abuse of 10 British residents and 400 other prisoners in Guantanamo Bay?
held in Guantanamo) is teaming up with political folk band “Seize the Day”
(www.seizetheday.org), along with local human rights activists from
Amnesty, the Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign and the Save Omar campaign,
to deliver a ‘birthday cake’ to Hiatt of Birmingham on the 5th anniversary
of the opening of the infamous detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The activists will arrive at Hiatt on a 7.5 tonne truck with folk band
“Seize the Day”, who will perform their satirical song “Do the Shackle
Shuffle at Club X-Ray” and “Happy Birthday” to ‘celebrate’ the 5th
anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay’s camp on January 11th, 2002.
Protesters will be dressed in the infamous orange Guantanamo jump suits,
ready-shackled, and will dance (or shuffle) as the band performs. A
‘birthday cake’ with a Guantanamo detainee inside will be presented to
Hiatt manufacture the shackles used by the US military in Guantanamo Bay
over the last 5 years. Hiatt’s history stretches from manufacturing chains
for slaves taken to America in the late 18th Century to supplying shackles
used during torture to various unsavoury regimes. At least 10 British
residents have been held in Guantanamo Bay for up to 5 years
Birmingham consultant physician and activist Dr Nicholl said:
“Hiatt is a company which has always had dubious business practices from
the time of the slave trade to the present day- we think it is appropriate
to point out the role of companies directly profiting from the human
rights abuses taking place in Guantanamo over the last 5 years and the
failure of our political leaders to take any action”.
Former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg said:
“When I was in Guantánamo Bay, one of the things I pointed out to my
lawyer was how it was ironic that these shackles were made in England,
just like me and him. It was very bizarre. Those shackles would often cut
into my arms and legs and make me bleed. It was those very same shackles
I saw being used by American soldiers in Bagram airbase to hang a
prisoner from the ceiling. It said 'Made in England' on there too.”
Reprieve’s legal director, Clive Stafford Smith said:
“My British clients, some of whom came from Birmingham, did not enjoy
being reminded of home by the shackles on their wrists. If an ethical
foreign policy means anything, it means not profiting from the torment of
our own people.”
Hiatt was taken over as a subsidiary of US company Armor Holdings in July
2006. According to their web site, Armor Holdings “intended to capitalize
on Hiatt’s strong presence and brand awareness outside of North America
and to enhance its presence in the U.S.” Hiatt consultant Geoff Cross
commenting on the protest in the Birmingham Mail (4/1/07) stated "We
receive orders from the United States, we have no responsibility for what
happens after that."
The plight of the British residents is desperate, the US government has
refused independent medical assessments and the UK government has so far
refused to intervene. Omar Deghayes is a British refugee from Libya who
was given asylum in the UK in 1986 after his father was assassinated on
the orders of Colonel Gaddafi. He completed a law degree at Wolverhampton
University. He was arrested in Pakistan by US authorities in 2001, and
sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he has suffered numerous human rights abuses
and is now completely blinded in one eye following an assault by a US
soldier. No charges have ever been brought against him. However, the UK
government has refused to intervene on his behalf, even though the Libyan
security services have threatened to kill him if the US authorities ever
send him to Libya. He has lived in Brighton for many years, and all his
family are British citizens, yet every day, he is held in Hiatt shackles..
The stories of the various British residents are equally horrifying.
Binyam Mohammed was rendered to Morocco where his torturers took a razor
blade to his penis. Shaker Aamer has a British wife and four young
British children. Bisher Al Rawi and Jamil El Banna, far from being
seized on the Afghan battlefield, were grabbed in the Gambia where they
were setting up a peanut processing plant, and taken to Guantanamo. Ahmed
Errachidi, 18 years a British resident, was working as a chef in London at
the time the Americans allege he was training as a terrorist on the other
side of the world.
The Foreign Office has so far refused to make any comment regarding
Hiatt’s relationship with the Guantanamo regime, citing “commercial
Clara Gutteridge, spokesperson for Reprieve, UK legal charity that
represents the British residents held in Guantanamo.
Abu Bakr Deghayes- brother of Omar Dehayes, British resident, currently
being in Guantanamo
Sandy Mitchell, who was tortured in Saudia Arabia in Hiatt shackles.
Dr David Nicholl, consultant physician from Birmingham who has spoken out
in regard to medical treatment of Guantanamo hunger strikers.