A Taste of Gitmo in Miami

Janine Zeitlin
Activists at the Tina Hill Pavilion at Bayfront Park hoping to bring awareness of the injustices at Guantánamo Bay.

What’s two times smaller than your first apartment and shorter than Shaq?

Stumped? It’s a prison cell at Guantánamo Bay. A true-to-life replica of the roughly 6.5-by-8-foot space arrived in Bayfront Park in downtown Miami Thursday. Amnesty International kicked off its national tour of the cell to bring attention to the injustices just across the water in the U.S.-controlled slice of Cuba. The goal: close Gitmo.

More than a dozen activists – old, young, bald, brown, blonde and bearded - dressed in orange jumpsuits and linked by silver chains, gathered near the replica Thursday at Tina Hills Pavilion (behind the balloon). Leaders from Amnesty International, the ACLU and the American Bar Association presented a bleak reality. One even noted that a detainee was imprisoned for having a Timex watch. Apparently, that's a preferred brand for terrorists.

Janine Zeitlin
Replica of a cell at Guantánamo Bay.

“This is an ugly blot in the America we were taught to believe in,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “The people who live in boxes like this are still there … What’s important is that we are still here. And we can stop this nightmare once and for all.”

Here are some Amnesty statistics:

-Only eight percent of detainees have been tagged as Al Qaeda fighters.

-Forty percent of detainees have no real connection to Al Qaeda.

-While there’s approximately 280 people in custody, there’s only been one prisoner conviction by a guilty plea.

The replica will be open until Sunday, and a concert is planned for Saturday. Visitors can also request to be locked in the cell with a toilet, a skinny bed and a sliver of a window. There, they can record their own 30-second video reaction to the U.S. detention disaster. It’ll be posted on YouTube.com or tearitdown.org. A 36-year-old German tourist was the first member of the public who peeked inside the cell at the mostly press event. “To be honest, it’s not a very good topic for your country,” said Ixel apologetically, who feared giving his last name. “These people are giving me hope.”

- Janine Zeitlin

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