The US military prison at Guantánamo Bay has been notorious for civil rights violations for decades. Some of the detainees at Guantánamo were children when captured, throughout the prison’s dark history there have been multiple cases of children as young as 12 or 13 years old who were tortured and held without trial. In fact, although the prison still holds over 100 people, almost 1000 have passed through, and many of them were proven innocent and released years after being declared an “enemy combatant” and submitting to torture and imprisonment.
Some of the remaining prisoners who have been there for most of their lives pass the time by creating beautiful works of art, which were recently put on display at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Detainees at the United States military prison camp known as Guantánamo Bay have made art from the time they arrived. Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantánamo Bay displays over thirty of these evocative works, made by men held without trial, some for nearly 15 years. The eight artists include both current (Moath Al-Alwi, Ammar Al-Bluchi, Ahmed Rabbani, and Khalid Qasim) and former (Muhammad Ansi, Djamel Ameziane, Abdualmalik (Alrahabi) Abud, and Ghaleb Al-Bihani) detainees.
Only two of the works in the exhibit have ever been displayed before. Many of the rest were taken from Guantánamo by the detainee’s lawyers specially for this exhibit after a laborious process of searching, scanning, and analysis for hidden messages. A stamp reading “Approved by US Forces” signals that the works have been cleared, and its ink often bleeds through to the image on the other side, a ghostly mix of art and authority.
The exhibit includes drawings and paintings as well as three-dimensional works crafted from the few materials permitted to detainees, including model ships made from parts of shirts, prayer caps, razors, and mops. As former detainee Mansoor Adayfi explains in an essay written for the exhibition catalog, the theme of the show was chosen because the sea “means freedom that no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.” Although detainees were held close to the sea, tarps blocked their view until they were removed for four days in 2014 in anticipation of a hurricane; after that, Adayfi recalls, “all of those who could draw made drawings about the sea.”
However, once news of the exhibition reached The Pentagon, the US Department of Defense stopped all shipments of art from Guantánamo and also threatened to take away and destroy the inmates’ art. The agency “effectively eliminated transfer of detainee produced artwork from the detention facility”, Maj Ben Sakrisson, a DoD spokesman told the Guardian.
This artwork is sadly the only thing that these inmates really have in their lives.
“In prison, you are so deeply connected to your stuff that taking away your artworks is like taking away your children,” former detainee Mansoor Adayfi pointed out.
Over the years, the military dungeons at Guantanamo Bay have become largely forgotten by the general population back home in the US. To make matters even worse, the practices at Guantanamo have been exported elsewhere, so even if the prison does eventually close down, the culture of violence and torture that it represented will continue to live on in prisons and military bases across the world.
Below are a few examples of the art that will be on display at the college through Jan. 26, 2018.
Images: Guantanamo Art Exhibit
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.