Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

Whatever Happened to Innocent Unless Proven Guilty?

Guantanamo Bay has surfaced in the news again, with the apparent suicide of 3 inmates. For the uninitiated, Guantanamo is set up by the US to hold enemy combatants for interrogation, those captured in the War on Terror. But the movie questions, just how exactly effective the interrogation is, or whether perhaps, as per widely held suspicion, that the folks now inside one of the most notorious prisons, are mostly innocent folks caught in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Using the "Tipton Three" as a reference point, and the lead characters, The Road to Guantannamo is part documentary (using archive footages), and part drama, with pseudo-interviews with the trio, coupled with dramatizing the sequence of events from the beginning where they set off from Britain to Pakistan for a wedding, before crossing over the Afghan border, being captured by the Northern Alliance, imprisoned in Kandahar, then shipped to a makeshift Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, before their final destination at the purpose-built Camp Delta.

Throughout the movie, you're constantly reminded that so long as you're not part of the victorious team, you're in for a hell of a ride. It doesn't matter if the Geneva Convention's gonna be followed or not, as both innocent and guilty parties are subjected to the same treatment. You'll witness first hand the treatment of prisoners, starting with the capture by the Northern Alliance, packing them into containers, and firing at it for light and air. Caught by the bullet? Too bad.

And it doesn't get any better in the hands of the American troops as well. Granted, they're prisoners, but it'll call to question certain tactics used for torture, and also the constant state of bewilderment that the prisoners are subjected to. The movie documents well-known incidents like the disallowing of prayers, of the using of dogs to cajole the detainees into submission, and the worse of all, the mistreatment of the Holy Book and the flushing of it down the toilet.

It demonstrates again the lack of respect and understanding of the captors over the captives, and such ignorance in no way will win any hearts or minds over to their cause, questionable to begin with. Having the upper hand, and yes, their prisoners, doesn't mean lack of basic respect. Maybe that's just me. And it's just plain ridiculous to see the red tape process they have over the transportation of unarmed prisoners from their cell to the interrogation office - with the masking, kneeling, lying faced away, hands on the head, cuffs, and being dragged, all this while with someone pointing a machine gun. Talk about using a bull knife to kill a chicken.

Perhaps the scenes which highlights the deceit, lies or just dumb intelligence gathering on the part of the CIA, military intelligence and various other intelligence groups like the MI5 were the best bits. These tactics of guile are outdated, and rings of amateurish attempts to weed information out of the detainees.

It's a powerful movie, which at the end of it, will just provoke sentiments in the audience to question the effectiveness of the prison, the tactics used, and probably fan the flames of those who are actively seeking to close it.

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