The Guantanamo Public Memory Project Exhibition

exhibitMany activists have stated that at the root of violence is the dehumanization of another human being. Although there are many, almost imperceptible ways to dehumanize another person, torture and indefinite detention carry dehumanization to the extreme limits. It is necessary for America to rethink Guantanamo.

The Minnesota Council of Churches’ newsletter states: “For many faith-based activists, Guantanamo Bay represents the horrors of torture, the injustice of indefinite detention, and the disrespect of the inherent dignity granted each person created in God’s image.”
The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul is showing a traveling exhibit that answers the question: “What can Guantanamo’s history tell us about what’s happening now—there and here?” The exhibit, created by graduate and undergraduate students, is based on interviews with staff, residents and detainees as well as the examination of historical and visual archives. It explores Guantanamo’s history from U.S. occupation in 1898 to today’s debates and vision for its future from a wide variety of perspectives.
The following programs are open to the community:
Guantánamo Public Memory Project Community Open House
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 to 9 p.m., Free
Minnesota History Center 345 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul 55102
Meet the University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students who, along with students from 11 other American universities, created the exhibit as a way to examine the long history of the American naval station and military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Join them in exploring the historical and current connections between “Gitmo” and Minnesota.
This program is made possible with support from the Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund, voted into law by the people of Minnesota in 2008.
The Origins and Development of Guantánamo’s Legal Black Hole, A Talk by Michael Strauss
Friday, Feb. 28, 12:15 to
1:15 p.m., Free
Walter F. Mondale Hall, Room 50
229 19th Ave. S., U of M
In this presentation, Michael Strauss, professor of international relations at Paris’ École des Hautes Études Internationales, explains what the jurisdictional gap is, and how it emerged and evolved through a combination of things: the lease itself and how it has been interpreted; the U.S. and Cuban legal systems; the application of the U.S. Constitution and laws on territory that is controlled by the U.S. but is not U.S. sovereign territory; and whether the conditions that gave rise to the “legal black hole” can be replicated elsewhere—or already are. Co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Legal History Workshop.
Refugee Rights and Rightlessness: Haitian Refugees at Guantánamo in the 1990s
Friday, Feb. 28, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Free
Andersen Library 120, U of M
In the early 1990s, over 32,000 refugees fled a military coup d’etat in Haiti. Their makeshift boats were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and brought to crowded detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. courts declared that the Haitians had “no substantive rights.” The camp became the world’s first detention center for people with HIV/AIDS and marked the first time GTMO was used as anything other than a naval base. This panel of speakers will address the experiences of Haitian refugees at GTMO and connect this history with the major issues relevant to refugee rights in the present.
Panelists: A. Naomi Paik is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Paik’s work examines Japanese Americans interned during World War II, “enemy combatants” currently detained at GTMO, and Haitian refugees at GTMO in the 1990s and connects these disparate experiences through the concept of “rightlessness.”
Ninaj Raoul worked as a translator for Haitian refugees detained at GTMO in the 1990s. On her return to New York, Raoul co-founded Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR), an organization intended to respond to the needs of the refugees. Today, HWHR continues to be the only New York organization serving the working class Haitian community, through community organizing, outreach and education.
Michele Garnett McKenzie works as advocacy director at The Advocates for Human Rights. As a staff attorney, she represents asylum seekers and immigration detainees. McKenzie is responsible for policy advocacy and community and coalition engagement around The Advocates’ priority issues, including human trafficking, refugee and immigrant rights, and diaspora community engagement.
Co-Sponsored by the Immigration History Research Center
Inside Guantánamo, Past and Present
Friday, March 1, 2 p.m., Free
Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul 55102
Today, Guantánamo Bay makes headlines as the U.S. detention facility for alleged enemy combatants. What many Americans don’t realize is that “Gitmo” was built over a century ago as the United States’ first foreign military installation, and that it served many purposes before 2002 when it became a military prison for the “War on Terror.”
Join the conversation and the debate about Guantánamo with international experts Liz Sevcenko, founding director of the Guantánamo Bay Public Memory Project, Michael Strauss, professor of international relations at Paris’ École des Hautes Études Internationales, and Omar Farah, staff attorney, Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative, as they explore Guantánamo Bay’s little-known past and the historical, legal and human rights implications of its present use for the U.S. and the world.
This program is made possible with support from the Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund, voted into law by the people of Minnesota in 2008.
GTMO in MSP events have been made possible through the generous support of: The Minnesota Historical Society, University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, The Heritage and Public History Collaborative of the University of Minnesota, The Immigration History Research Center of the University of Minnesota, and the Departments of History and American Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.