Hip-hop artists urge Guantanamo shutdown

Posted: June 20, 2007 in Music, War on Terror

Now here’s an interesting article I read at the ABS-CBN news website today. Hip-hop fights Bush’s war on terror. It is an interesting report since the anti-terror law will soon take effect in the Philippines. We might be facing our very own Guantanamo if we don’t stop the terror machine.

Dead Prez is a very impressive revolutionary hip-hop group. For a sample their music, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgPje57RIxw

as well as one of my favorite tracks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24_19_O6k9g

You can also check out their album Let’s Get Free.

WASHINGTON – Hip-hop musicians, themselves longtime enemies of police and government policies, on Tuesday likened their struggle for justice to that of “war on terror” prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But in order to call attention to their message to end prisoner torture and urge the closure of the US detention camp, they had to plunge deep into the caverns of the much-hated “establishment” — the US Congress.

“When I walk through these halls, you know, all the way here, I felt this despicable taste in my mouth,” rapper M1 of the group Dead Prez told a news conference inside the Capitol Hill press briefing room.

“I came to this building which claims to represent the people who live in this country and (where people) do some of the most treacherous and demeaning acts to other human beings,” said M1, his camouflage baseball cap tilted to one side.

“I know some of you feel me,” he said to a burst of applause and calls of “Come on!” from an audience that included button-laden peace activists, fresh-faced congressional interns and members of the media.

M1’s hip-hop forefathers were urban musicians in 1970s New York City, where DJs mixed street beats with lyrics that blasted the policies of the powerful for entrapping minorities into cycles of drug-addiction, poverty and violence.

For today’s hip-hop musicians, who were schooled by pioneers like Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy, making the step to demanding an end to torture and restoring foreign prisoners’ rights was not much of a stretch.

“I come from the ‘hood. I represent what people call OGs,” said M1, referring to the term “original gangstas,” as he explained the ideological link between African-Americans and Guantanamo prisoners who are suspected of aiding the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.

“But I want to talk about the OVs, the original victims,” M1 said. “That’s what we are in our community, we are the OVs. We are the original victims of terrorism.

“We are victims of a war that has been directed at our community under the guise of the war on drugs,” and US President George W. Bush’s policies “have left nothing but misery and pain in our community.”

The movement is led by the Hip-Hop Caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International.

The plan includes a “Hip-Hop for Habeas” concert at Washington’s famed 9:30 Club, a petition urging Congress to restore habeas corpus — allowing the accused to challenge their detention in a US court — and a rally in the nation’s capital on June 26.

“The hip-hop community has become the new soccer moms,” said the head of the Hip-Hop Caucus Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., referring to the influence wielded in the last US presidential election by suburban mothers who cast their votes based on national security issues.

Yearwood, who wore a belt buckle that flashed the words “Stop Torture Now” in blinking red lights, said the Guantanamo campaign was symbolically tied to the Juneteenth commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.

“We are here to link that struggle to this struggle,” he said, but added: “It is not about us or me when the richest country in the world is rolling back our rights.”

Hip-hop singer Mystic said that US black history has been filled with stories of people who have been wrongly imprisoned and tortured by police, even though people did not always believe the stories of the downtrodden.

“Our civil liberties are being taken away in the name of fighting the war and fighting terrorism. I’m here to stand up and say shut down Guantanamo, stop the torture,” she said.

A short walk from M1’s hated hallways of Congress, even before the hip-hop artists’ arrival, the drumbeat against US policies in the “war on terror” has been growing louder.

The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month endorsed a bill that would restore the right of habeas corpus to those detained by the United States. It must next go to the full Senate floor for consideration.

Also this month, a military tribunal threw out charges against two Guantanamo camp inmates because they had not been classified as “unlawful enemy combatants.” AFP

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