empty plate picnic protest
In lieu of the weekly Friday evening vigil at 6-7pm held by the London Guantánamo Campaign outside the US Embassy in Mayfair, London, last week a first freedom picnic was held to mark American Independence Day, 4 July, which this year just happened to be a Friday. For a nation whose declaration of independence states that “life, LIBERTY and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable, God-given rights, few others have done as much in this new millennium to divest the good people of this world of their rights and liberty in favour of growing corporatisation and the fear mill of the war on terror; Starbucks, McDonalds, et al. and their presence at Guantánamo Bay, the farming out of torture through extraordinary rendition and the corporate management of the war in Iraq being just a few examples.
On a sunny late afternoon on Friday 4 July, over 20 people joined the London Guantánamo Campaign for shared food, shared discussion and to mull over the issues of the day. Discussion was held on what freedom means, how it is undermined by the current climate of fear across our society and our world – from the fear of teenagers, fear to care for others, fear of rising fuel and food prices to the fear of foreigners, asylum seekers and other religious groups, which paralyses and grinds to a halt our ability to progress and move forward as a society. Discussion was also had on how we can create and move towards a better society and mode of governance for all.
The London Guantánamo Campaign also held a short vigil outside the US Embassy and were joined by the UK Forum for Non-Violence, who instead held an empty plate picnic in protest on American Independence Day of the continuing support and waste of valuable resources for the Star Wars missile defence shield while millions go hungry in our world, for want of the basics. They also called for Independence from the US for the rest of us.
Intended as a first picnic in a series of picnics across the country to celebrate our diminishing civil liberties (it’s a offence to protest in Grosvenor Square, so we held a protest picnic instead!) between 4-10 July in the run up to the Haltemprice and Howden by-election on 10 July, the picnic was a huge success and brought together lots of different people united by their common love of freedom and humanity.
Remembering also Binyam Mohamed, the last Londoner in Guantánamo Bay, who has been deprived of his freedom for the past six years, during which time he has suffered unspeakable torture and abuse, and who now faces the prospect of a kangaroo court and either the death penalty or life in jail for “evidence” extracted under torture in Morocco, the London Guantánamo Campaign is also calling on picnic participants and the wider public to join us at the HAPPY BIRTHDAY BINYAM! demonstration on 24 July 2008 at 6-8pm opposite Downing Street. Join us and make some noise for human rights and human dignity. We ask for 2 hours of your time; 24/7 Binyam has already given 6 years of his for the “freedom” that we allegedly have. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR2cW_JZdvo
London Guantánamo Campaign
7 July 2008