Protestors stage Guantánamo human rights demonstration


By Amanda MacMillan

PROTESTORS dressed in bright orange boiler suits and black hoods staged a human rights demonstration in Edinburgh today (fri).

The volunteers from the Festival of Spirituality and Peace donned the outfits, made infamous in the first pictures of prisoners being held by the American military at Guantánamo Bay, to highlight human rights abuse.

The installation took place at St John’s Church on Princes Street and also at the famous St John’s Mural which this year highlights the ‘Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.’

They took turns standing outside the church and their places were being replaced by mannequins at night.

Victor Spence, co-director of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, said: “Barack Obama came to office promising to end the human rights abuse represented by Guantánamo Bay and many other such centres.

“In this living installation we are faced with the challenge: how to treat those accused of breaching both the Golden Rule and the laws designed to keep us safe, without breaching these norms ourselves.

“This installation has become a Princes Street show stopper for the public in passing by foot, taxi and in particular buses. People have come in to us from the street to tell us of the impact it’s having.”

“I saw the street artist Banksy do something similar in the film “Exit Through The Gift Shop”– and knew when I saw the impact of what he had done in Disneyland Los Angeles that I could do something similar during our festival.

“We invited our volunteers to participate in this installation throughout the Festival, to step into the shoes and boiler suits of a Guantánamo detainee for the day or even an hour.”

Moazzam Begg, a British citizen and former detainee at Guantánamo, has welcomed the creation of the installation.

He said: “I welcome this show of solidarity across religious, ethnic and political boundaries in giving witness to the appalling way in which we can treat each other when we lose sight of our essential humanity.

“Whatever our problems, we can only find peace through peaceful solutions.””

The full festival programme can be downloaded from