In January 2002, the first prisoners from America’s war on terror arrived at a new hastily-built detention facility at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The camp’s first commander, Major General Mike Lehnert, recalls the challenges he faced in opening what would become one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Should he resign in protest or stay as a corrective? One thing he did was make every soldier under his command read The Geneva Conventions.
“Of all my initial guidance from superiors, perhaps the most disturbing was the decision by the Administration that the detainees would be afforded none of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. I thought that the Geneva Convention’s stricture to treat detainees humanely until they had been tried by an Article V Tribunal made sense. My personal decision was to run the facility in accordance with the Geneva Convention wherever possible. Although some of the people in the facility could be the ‘worst of the worst,’ that didn’t absolve us from the responsibility to treat them humanely.”
I’ve been doing what I can to support Laura Amico Norton and her work as founder of the blog Homicide Watch D.C. Its mission: Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case. As Laura says, “Their deaths needs to be marked if we are living consciously in this city.”
She’s a 28-year-old former newspaper reporter whose web site chronicles every murder in Washington D.C. Laura supports her work out of her own pocket and is hoping to get grant funding.
Recently, BBC reporter Jane O’Brien met Laura at a Bloomingdale neighborhood prayer vigil for Billy Mitchell. Mitchell was murdered when he, allegedly, tried to intervene in a street altercation between a man and a woman. You can listen to O’Brien’s excellent interview with Laura on BBC Outlook (starts at minute 16).
“I think those people who don’t even get a funeral announcement are just as important as the ones who do get the coverage,” says Laura. “Who they were and how they died say as much about our city as the one’s who do get a news write up.”
By being online, the web site provides a place to form community for the family and friends of murder victims. It becomes a place of solace; a place that meets the need for the victim’s community to get concrete information about the legal aspects of the case and as a place to meet others who knew their loved one, but whom the family might not have met.
As one neighbor put it, “She’s putting a face on every victim who is murdered in DC.”
The BBC’s Heart and Soul ran an incredible 2-part radio show on Oscar Romero this week on the 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination. Join Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.
“Thirty years ago, El Salvador’s Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead while celebrating mass. He knew he was in danger – not long before his death, he said that if he was killed – he would rise again in his people. Today, his face is everywhere in the country – on murals, T-shirts and key rings. Many compare him to Martin Luther King, Gandhi or even Che Guevara.
But how was it that this man of the church became such an outspoken advocate of the poor and oppressed? And why did he become such a threat to the rich oligarchy that someone wanted him dead?Listen to BBC’s Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.”
Every year on 24th March, the people of El Salvador remember the death of the man who throughout Latin America became known as the voice of the voiceless poor: Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot dead at the altar on 24th March 1980. But is the Catholic church he loved in terminal decline, in a country where more than one-third of the population now attend evangelical Protestant churches?
BBC’s Julian Miglierini goes to a Baptist megachurch in San Salvador where close to 80,000 people worship every week, and asks why its message should have such enormous appeal in a traditionally Catholic country. But while the Catholic church may be losing members, Oscar Romero himself seems to have lost little of his appeal. El Salvador’s new left-wing President, Mauricio Funes, calls him his inspiration. And this bookish Archbishop in his 60s has also become an unlikely icon of youth culture. Hear why the Hip Hop band, Pescozada, have just released a track in homage to him.