Wednesday, 8 October 2003

The ‘enemy’ within

Thanks to a group of artists and activists in Manchester, people in this country can now get a taste of the rough justice meted out to ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, without even leaving the UK.


Hulme in inner-city Manchester may not have the weather enjoyed by the sun-kissed Caribbean isle of Cube, but it will soon have it’s very won detention centre, just like tat set up by the US Navy in Guantanamo Bay on the southern tip of the island.

A full-size, working replica of a section of the detention centre formerly known as Camp X-Ray (now rebuilt and renamed Camp Delta) is currently being constructed in Hulme, but unlike the real Camp Delta, those incarcerated within it will be there by choice.

The camp will hold nine ‘prisoners’ at any one time (drawn from a large pool of volunteers working on a shift system), representing the nine British citizens detained by the US authorities at Camp Delta, including Jamal Udeen who was brought up just up the road in Moss Side. Volunteer ‘guards’ will man the sentry posts which flank the camps entrance and the barbed-wire topped chain link fence which surrounds it. The entire installation will be floodlit and rigged for tannoy broadcasts.

This extraordinary and audacious project, equal parts art installation, agit-prop intervention and Situationist prank, has been put together by Jai Redman and the UHC political art collective. The idea behind the project, entitles, This is Camp X-Ray, is to challenge what UHC see as public apathy over the fate of the 680-plus detainees at Giantanamo Bay and explore experiencers of incarceration and sensory deprivation.

According to Redman, “each of the individual prisoners and guards will have their own story to tell. That’s the only way political change can now be realised in this country, because voting and marching don’t work.”

‘This is Camp X-Ray’ will run 24-hours a day from October 8-18 in Hulme, Manchester.
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