Tear It Down


Tearitdown.org aims to close down Guantanamo Bay by encouraging electronic signatories of a petition to claim one of 500,000 pixels in a photograph. I found out about the project from a tweet by Mark Dilley, a wiki guru associated with the wiki search engine AboutUs. When I visited Tearitdown, there were 82,776 pixels claimed (17%).


The pixels belong to an image on the front page of the web site. The photo was staged—owing to the difficulty in obtaining any pictures from Gitmo, let alone ones capturing abuse—but the facts about the facility are real:

  • There are approximately 355 people in custody.
  • The approximate size of a cell is 52 square feet. Tall people could lie down in one direction but not another.
  • Hundreds of people have been held for over 2000 days without charge or trial.
  • 55% of detainees have not committed any hostile acts against the United States.
  • 8% of detainees are characterized as Al Qaeda fighters.
  • 66% of detainees were captured by Pakistani authorities, the result of a bounty campaign that paid for arrests.
  • Ten people in Gitmo have been charged with a crime.
  • There were 350 incidents of self-harm in Guantanamo Bay in 2003, including 120 “hanging gestures.”

The first detainees arrived on January 11, 2002.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in September 2006, limits habeas corpus rights in an attempt to “facilitate bringing to justice terrorists and other unlawful enemy combatants through full and fair trials by military commissions, and for other purposes.” Some see the law as an after-the-fact justification for Guantanamo as well as an official endorsement of a philosophy granting human rights only to Americans. Still others anticipate how Military Commissions can be applied to American citizens, too.

The pledge behind the petition reads:

“The America I believe in doesn’t torture people or use cruel, inhuman treatment; doesn’t hold people without charge, without fair trials, without hope, and without end; doesn’t kidnap people off the street and ship them to nations known for their brutality; doesn’t justify the use of secret prisons; and does not rob people of their basic dignity.”

Tearitdown.org offers several ways to get involved, including donating to Amnesty International, wearing a project t-shirt, and posting a badge on a web page. The site was designed by HUGE under the direction of Middle Child and Amnesty International. Amnesty International is one of my favorite organizations, boasting over 2.2 million supporters of human rights initiatives in 150 countries.

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