In solidarity with the detainees currently on hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions at the Los Fresnos immigration jail (Port Isabel, TX), I’m highlighting Homeland Guantanamos. Much more than an educational online game, this project documents actual detainees’ stories and the abuses they endured while in detention. Approximately 300,000 immigrants both legal and illegal are being detained in the U.S., many without conviction of any crime. This non-linear storytelling/investigative project invites players to discover what’s really happening on the inside.
The game’s assignment: go undercover by working as a prison guard and find the truth about what happened to Boubacar Bah, an immigrant from Ghinea who died while in ICE custody May 30, 2007. Free Range Studios built the virtual facility to match the Elizabeth Detention Center (run by the private company Corrections Corporation of America) where Bah was detained and designed the story around the actual events and people involved. While exploring each room, I found clues to help solve the case including embedded video interviews with Bah’s friends and family, his fellow detainees and their families. The video and written evidence reveal human rights abuses that mimic those committed at Guantanamo and other U.S. secret prisons.
Partnering with Free Range Studios, the international human rights organization Breakthrough used this project to launch a national engagement campaign. Included on the site are innumerable ways to take action, a memorial wall for the 87 immigrants who’ve died while in detention and a searchable U.S. map that locates local Gitmos by zip code. The article that triggered this project along with the recently released video What Really Happened to Boubacar Bah can both be found here. Spreading, creating or participating in projects as informative and comprehensive as this encourages the beginning of the end of real homeland Guantanamos.