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(Washington, D.C.) – Amnesty International released a new short film, Happy World Travels, that was inspired by the abusive policies of the "war on terror," including the use of torture and the refusal of the U.S. government to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
The film is a satirical look at indefinite detention, torture, Islamophobia and the U.S. Government’s reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, featuring Dileep Rao (Avatar, Inception) and directed by George Woolley. The premise explores what happens to a man named Rob when he heads to a travel agency looking for a relaxing vacation.
"Comedy and film can be a powerful and provocative way to reach out and connect with everyday people who do not normally follow politics, international relations and human rights due to their busy lives," said William Butkus, Amnesty International USA Western regional field organizer and one of the film's producers. "This film is a tool to reach out to the general public and grab their attention to remind them people have been detained in Guantanamo for years without charge or a fair trial."
Of the more than 770 prisoners originally confined under inhumane conditions at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, approximately 600 have been released without being charged with any crime or ever setting foot in a courtroom. Of the remaining 171, another 90 have been cleared for release without trial. This leaves approximately 81 prisoners whose fate remains undecided. Of those, the United States claims it will provide trials to approximately 30 individuals (less than four percent of those it saw fit to confine). The rest will continue to be imprisoned at the facility without trial, under President Obama’s officially-authorized policy of indefinite detention.
To date six people have been convicted by military commission - less than one percent of the detainees that have passed through the center.
"I think this video, while made with tongue firmly in cheek, speaks to a deep discomfort most have with Guantanamo," said Rao. "Holding people in custody without a hearing, without access to a court and without end is simply against everything our country represents. The Constitution and the promise it represents that we make ourselves as a people cannot be a variable code. We either live by it and its golden promise. Or we abrogate it and become like every other country in the chaff of history."
"Activism can take many forms,” said Woolley. "In today's social and viral entertainment driven climate you often have to push boundaries to break through the clutter. I hope this film helps people to laugh, to think, and to act. Even if their action is only to share it with a friend, a loved one, or a policymaker."
On January 11, 2012, a broad coalition of human rights groups and other like-minded organizations, including Amnesty International, will mark the 10th anniversary of the first detainees being jailed at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with rallies, vigils and demonstrations around the world, including one in Washington, DC. Participants are urging President Obama to keep his promise and shut down the detention facility.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.