10 March 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

I am very glad that Channel 4 in Britain has found the business opportunity in showing documentaries that are asking tough questions and telling harsh stories of the sign of our times. Where many media organisations concentrate on not rocking the boat, Channel 4 and its sub channels give a voice and quite a big audience to the documentary makers and topics, that has not been shown traditionally in such a media.

I just finished watching the documentary The Road to Guantanamo by Michael Winterbottom, telling a story of the three British Pakistani boys who ended up in the most infamous detention centre in the world. The fact that they were truly in the wrong place at the very wrong time does not really even start to justify the treatment that they received from the American military forces or their British co-operators. In Guantanamo Bay, with the approval of George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, torture has been renamed and it has become a justified method to get to get a confession. Where it may seem obvious to anyone with a one fifth of a brain, that tortured people will say anything to stop their agony, the news has not seemed to reach the US administration.

All the stories, regardless of how factual they are, are told by people. Individuals who look at things from their own angle and these days it is quite media sexy to make Americans look bad. Partly, I suppose because they have ignored the international community and gone against the will of millions, but also because it is so easy. I could not say if this story was hundred percent accurate but even if it was only one tenth true, the image of the prison and the moral of United States, its officials, soldiers and British officials is rather grim. One wonders how we can be at this point when human race should be so highly developed.

If there is such a thing as karma, I would not like to represent the mother of all coalitions. I would not like to be part of them even if karma does not exist. In the end, one of the three boys says, that his life has changed completely and that the world looks very like a bad place. I am not him but it does really, doesn’t it.


image from the Channel 4 website

Documentary as such was quite good. It was done with re-enactments, interviews of the boys in question and news footage. Somehow re-enactment sounds always quite bad to me but these where done well and they went nicely with rest of the material. I was not sure about few clips in the middle which took us back to the life of these boys before all these things happened. I felt that it was slightly unnecessary emotional propaganda, which was not needed because the case was strong enough as it was. But straight after More4’s Nick Broomfield week, Channel 4 continues its great work with documentaries that can grab the attention of people, who would not necessarily watch the more traditional ones.
The documentary can be downloaded from Channel 4 website for fee.

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