Guantanamo Bay holding cells: surprisingly roomy.

IMG_1319.jpgAmnesty International’s moving replica of a Guantanamo Bay holding cell is set-up on at 270 7th street west. And yes, it’s surprisingly roomy. After reading reports of terror and abuse inside teeny, tiny confines, one would expect a room just big enough to fit a half a twin bed and a floor made of glass shards. But the actual holding cell, while sparse, is comfy.

Standing inside the terror chamber with a volunteer didn’t seem too claustrophobic, and it had enough space to fit at least two more people with ease. Plus, the steel toilet positioned at an angle gave a hint of added comfort. It extends your line of sight ever so slightly. And the ceilings are high enough to do jumping jacks. Whoever designed these things actually made the most of it. There are dorm rooms smaller than these cells. Although, dorm rooms come with built in shelving and an Ethernet and a television jack and a drunken roommate who wakes you up at 3 in the morning humping a tri-delt, whereas the terror cells contain minimal amenities and the guards keep you up, permanently.

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The main reason why this didn’t feel scary is the thin window cut into one side of the cell wall. It let in natural light. When asked if the prisoners get windows at Guantanamo, the Amnesty worker said no. Not sure why they placed one in the traveling cell, though, it could be there to provide enough light for the camera that films participants’ reactions.

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Essentially, the off-site holding facility is a scary place, but the holding cells aren’t all the bad for short periods of time. Being inside the cell didn’t alter any perspective or increase the horror of Guantanamo. It lessened it. Another volunteer a few blocks away agreed that the cell isn’t all the bad. “But that’s not the point,” she added. “It’s the fact that we are holding people indefinitely without any proof.”

So yeah, the Habeas Schmabeas attitude is the most frightening thing about Guantanamo.

As for the holding cells… not so much.



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