Homeland Guantanamos

Katie Bezrouch • Oct 25, 2008

The right to live is the most basic human right. The U.S. has been praised for its progressive human rights record by international watchdog organizations and is considered to be among the world’s most free nations. Even though this country began with a horrific genocide, some claim we are above the horrific acts once practiced in America: we are a living and leading example of freedom now, right? We have washed our hands of the blood we drew in our past, and even display a statue facing the open ocean that says “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…” that famously welcomes any and all oppressed peoples.

So why are many immigrants denied their basic human rights in our “free” nation? Why are immigrants that have been mistakenly detained or charged with minor crimes being held for months or even years in horrible conditions without a fair trial?

I recently visited an educational website that was recommended to me by a friend called Homeland Guantanamos, which helps to answer a lot of these questions. It aims to share “the untold story of immigrant detention in the U.S.” and does just that in a user-friendly way.

The introduction and interactive part of the site is a little confusing at first. When you arrive the site launches you into an interactive game where you play a journalist investigating a detainee camp somewhere in the U.S. You virtually wander the facilities, talking to different prisoners (animated through live video recordings of real people) and piece together your “story”. To be honest, I thought this part of the site was kind of weird.

However, this game-like-structure is probably helpful to people who don’t know anything about U.S. detention, or to parents who want their kids to learn about human rights. Or maybe it’s just a creative way to get the internet-surfing-crowd to delve a little deeper into immigrant rights issues. Either way, if it can be an effective way to help people learn, then overall it should prove to be a worthy component.

After your “investigation” is done, you are led to the “Memorial Wall” section. A testament to the 87 immigrants that have lost their lives in detention centers, the site then asks you to leave words of support to honor their memory. The remaining sections of the site link you to live detainee footage, a map of detainee camps in the U.S., and provides a list of ways to take action.

For those who would like to skip the game aspect of site, I would recommend going directly to the Detainee Stories. The stories are heart-wrenching and put the human beings caught in the system front and center. After listening to the detainee stories go to the Memorial Wall and leave a note on one of the names of the 87 immigrants who have died in U.S. detention centers.

Overall I would recommend this site to anyone wishing to familiarize themselves on the subject of state violence, and to shed light on the urgent human rights crisis occurring within our own borders on a daily basis.

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