Today is a big day in the nation's human-rights history. Five "detainees" captured and held for their alleged roles in terrorism and other acts against the United States who are being imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay are facing a US military judge today in open court. What happens to them will provide powerful evidence of how far down the human-rights-abuse spectrum we have slid.
This weekend, Amnesty International, the NAACP, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Veterans for Peace (and I think a few other groups) have gotten together not only to put a replica of a Guantánamo Bay prison cell in Monument Square for people to check out (read next week's Portland Phoenix to find out more about what it's like inside), but also to host a giant pile of related events around the city. (Here's a photo from this morning's rally kicking everything off, too.)
Chris Gray told you about some of them in "8 Days A Week" in the paper this week, but here's the full schedule:
Tonight's big event is a forum with Pardiss Kebriaei of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (which has spearheaded organizing hundreds of attorneys to volunteer their time to defend detainees); Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International; and Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney working on Guantánamo cases. That will be at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, in Portland, at 6:30 pm. Admission is free.
Through Thursday, June 5, "Torture Preserved," sculptures of torture victims, by Lin Linsberger of Gorham, will be on display at the Meg Perry Center, 644 Congress Street, in Portland.
Tomorrow, Friday, June 6, will see a noon reading of poems from Guantánamo prisoners by Mad Horse Theatre Company, in Monument Square.
There will also be a showing of Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Rory Kennedy's documentary of the abuse and torture of inmates in a US-run prison in Iraq, at 7 pm at the Williston West Church, 32 Thomas Street, Portland.
On Saturday, June 7, There will be a conference about post-traumatic stress disorder sponsored by Maine Veterans for Peace, at the University of Southern Maine's Abromson Center, 88 Bedford Street, Portland, from 9 am to 4 pm.
And at 4 pm on Saturday, the Senior Players troupe of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM will read from the Ed Schwartz book Faithful Voices: Exploring Beliefs in Action (Quaker Press, 2005).