Guantanamo comes to Wellington

17:00, Aug 19 2011
CRUEL AND UNUSUAL? Wellington High School teachers and pupils dressed as Guantanamo Bay prisoners line up for the school to raise awareness.

It's not quite corporal punishment, but Wellington High School pupils have had a first-hand taste of Guantanamo Bay.

Three teachers and two pupils donned Guantanamo-style fatigues yesterday lunchtime, with the rest of the students asked to work out which shrouded figures were teachers and which were pupils.

Suspected terrorists and prisoners from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been detained at the American prison opened in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002.

The challenge had a serious human rights message, said Richard Brown, 17, of the school's Amnesty International group, which organised the event.

"You're pretty much being treated like an inanimate object. Basically you have no voice, no features at all, just the same as hundreds of other people."

Richard, who wore the attire while fundraising, said he could not see, could hear little, his wrists were in pain from being handcuffed, and he had an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia.


"It was quite eye-opening for what people actually go through ... These are things you can't understand until you have actually put it on."

Richard, a year 12 pupil, had been part of the group since the start of the year and wanted to find out more about what was happening to people in the rest of the world.

The group also had a bake sale and created prayer flags as part of an awareness week, and hoped to raise several hundred dollars for Amnesty International.

Henry Hollis, head of social sciences and teacher-in-charge, said it was easy for Kiwi pupils – and adults – to be cocooned from atrocities happening around the world.

The Dominion Post