Tackle the Shackles


Dates: 8 September 2005 & 11 January 2007

Type: factory pickets / protests

Organisers: included Reprieve, Amnesty International, Save Omar Campaign & Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign

Location: Hiatt & Co., 111-115 Baltimore Road, Birmingham, England, UK (see map)

Reporting: in news stories (see below), photos (see Pinterest board here) and video (of the 2007 protest: starting at 2 minutes 20 seconds in this video and 1hr 20mins 50 seconds to 1hr 22 minutes 40 seconds in this film).

Page Reference: Shifrina, D. (2013) Tackle the Shackles. ( last accessed <insert date here>)

Lego re-creation

Guantanamo Bay shackles: "Made in England"

The Moment when Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg realised that both he and the shackles that restrained him were 'Made in England' (Source: click photo).


[The] best (and only) demonstration using shackles as a theme … took place last September in Birmingham, England, at the Hiatt factory that makes shackles for Guantanamo Bay Prison. Mark Thomas, often called 'the British Michael Moore,' and Gitmo detainee lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, along with with political folk band ‘Seize the Day’, wore orange jumpsuits and Hiatt brand shackles while performing 'Do the Shackle Shuffle at Camp X-Ray.' The point was to protest abusive treatment of detainees at Gitmo and to support Smith’s hunger striking clients (Source: Cutler 2006 np link).

Yesterday [September 8, 2005], the Birmingham handcuff and baton manufacturer Hiatt & Company was picketed by human rights activists wearing orange jumpsuits in protest at its continued export to the US of handcuffs and other products used to hold prisoners at Camp X-Ray on the US naval base at Guantánamo, Cuba (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

About a dozen protesters dressed in orange boiler suits, similar to those seen in Camp X-ray, staged a song and dance routine, entitled the Shackle Shuffle, outside Hiatt and Co Ltd, on Baltimore Road, Hamstead. They were accompanied by a band playing a specially written song from the back of a flat-bed lorry decorated with inflatable palm trees and a banner stating ‘Tackle the Shackles’. Several guitarists were dressed as US soldiers in desert fatigues, a bongo drummer was wearing a Hawaiian shirt while another band member wore a Gestapo-style black leather jacket and soldier's helmet (Source: Connor 2005 np link).

One of the most recognizable human rights lawyers and defenders of captives in Guantanamo Bay is Clive Stafford Smith. At six foot four, maybe even five, he tends to stick out anyway, but today he really sticks out. It’s mid-morning on a weekday and Clive Stafford Smith is dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, dancing in the middle of the road alongside some similarly attired legal interns. Which is not what you normally stumble across if you live by the small industrial unit in Perry Barr, Birmingham. I have chosen the far more dignified option of standing on a flatbed truck, dressed in orange with a black hood on my head, holding a banner next to an inflatable palm tree. The banner reads ‘Tackle the Shackles’, and Clive is dancing to the music of Seize the Day, a folk band with whom I share the flatbed (Source: Thomas 2007 p.206-7).

The protest was called by a local doctor who discovered that the Hiatt's company were supplying the Shackles and Hand-cuffs used on people being held without trial or any hope of justice at the US prison-camp in Guantanamo Bay. Seize The Day arrived on a flat-bed truck to lead 20 orange-clad dancers in 'The Shackle Shuffle' before an audience of about 15 media, 2 coppers, and assorted local residents. Behind us, comedian Mark Thomas, in regulation Boiler Suit, held one end of a banner reading 'Tackle the Shakles - Call Hiatt 0121 357 4347'. After the song, Mark spoke passionately about the disgrace of the torture industry operating in our country. He was followed by Abu Bakr, whose brother Omar Deghayes is currently on Hunger Strike with over 200 other victims of gratuitous American military detention. The hunger strike is now in it's 5th week, and if the prisoners demands for humane treatment are not met soon, innocent men like Omar will start to die from starvation. The realities of Guantanamo abuses were spelled out by UK Lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who represents many of the inmates, but is not permitted by the US authorities to tell the world everything which he has seen (Source: Merrick 2005 np link).

One of the stunt's organisers Channel 4 comedian and activist Mark Thomas told a small crowd of supporters and onlookers that the US was outsourcing torture (Source: Anon 2005a np).

Mr Thomas called for pressure on the Government to change legislation and licence their sale. ‘Hiatt will say 'It doesn't matter because what we're doing is legal',’ he said. ‘But if the money comes back to Hiatt for the profiting of this stuff, then so does the responsibility. ‘They are complicit in aiding torture if they have profited from the sales of these shackles and it's our job to make them accountable’. Consultant neurologist Dr David Nicholls, who ran the London Marathon dressed as a Guantanamo detainee, said they had contacted Hiatt a number of times to answer the allegations but had received no reply. ‘This is what happens when you don't answer your post,’ he said. Mr Stafford-Smith [the lawyer for eight of the ten British men being held in Guantanamo Bay] said: ‘There's something profoundly wrong when Moazzam Begg's (the British detainee from Birmingham who was released from Guantanamo Bay earlier this year) only touching reminder of home is the shake of the shackles on his wrist made by this company behind us’ (Source: Connor 2005 np link).

[In 2007] To mark the 5th anniversary of the transportation of the first prisoners to the US concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a series of demonstrations took place around the world ... Some 70-80 people gathered today in Perry Barr, Birmingham, in front of Hiatt, a UK company that makes shackles and other torture equipment, to 'celebrate' the 5th anniversary of the notorious US-run prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where 10 British residents and 400 other prisoners are held illegally. The protest was part of a UK-wide day of action and was called by Reprieve (a UK charity that legally represents the British residents held in Guantanamo), Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign, Save Omar Campaign and Amnesty International (Source: Anon 2007a np link).

The activists will arrive at Hiatt on a 7.5 tonne truck with folk band ‘Seize the Day’, who will perform their satirical song ‘Do the Shackle Shuffle at Club X-Ray’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ to ‘celebrate’ the 5th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay’s camp on January 11th, 2002. Protesters will be dressed in the infamous orange Guantanamo jump suits, ready-shackled, and will dance (or shuffle) as the band performs. A ‘birthday cake’ with a Guantanamo detainee inside will be presented to Hiatt (Source: Anon 2007b np link).

Assembly point for the protest: Junction of Rocky Lane and Baltimore Road 1.30pm 11th January 2007(Source: sami_86 2006b np link).

Arrive: 2pm at Hiatts Factory [for a] presentation of the Hiatts achievement as supplier to the slave trade and now to the torture trade. Rally and Refreshments at a venue … before returning to our home cities (Source: sami83 2006a np link).

Speakers will include Clara Gutteridge (Reprieve), AbuBakr Deghayes (brother of Omar Deghayes), Sandy Mitchell (tortured in Saudi Arabia in Hiatt shackles), Dr David Nicholl (Birmingham physician and human rights activist who has spoken out regarding Guantanamo medical abuses) Alliya Stennet (Respect Candidate for Birmingham Council) & Councillor Tahir Ali (Source: Roddick 2007 np link).

The protest will be followed by a meeting at the University of Central England (Perry Barr Campus), Attwood building Room 040 starting after the protest around 3.00 pm (Source: sami_86 2006b np link).

Dozens of protestors gathered outside the factory of Birmingham handcuff manufacturer Hiatt to mark the fifth anniversary of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay - the US detention centre where four men from the West Midlands were held and later released without charge. Moazzam Begg from Sparkbrook and the so-called Tipton Three - Ruhal Ahmed, Shafique Rasul and Asif Iqbal - have all spoken about the inhumane conditions in which they were kept at the Cuban base, and Hiatt, who are based in Great Barr, have been accused of helping the Americans by the supplying chains which are used to shackle prisoners. The company has never admitted supplying the US military directly nor has the link been proven, but it has nevertheless become the focus for local anti Guantanamo sentiment (Source: thestirrer 2007a np link).

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Begg was among hundreds of protesters in London and Birmingham yesterday campaigning for the closure of the controversial US camp on its fifth birthday. The campaigners, many from Amnesty International and Reprieve, were shackled and dressed in orange boiler suits, held an ironic 'birthday party' and produced a cake, music and dancing, to mark the occasion. They were joined by Abu Baker Deghayes, the brother of UK resident Omar Deghayes, a refugee from Libya who studied law in Wolverhampton and who is still at the camp (Source: Anon 2007c p.2 link).

Birmingham consultant physician and activist Dr Nicholl said: ‘Hiatt is a company which has always had dubious business practices from the time of the slave trade to the present day - we think it is appropriate to point out the role of companies directly profiting from the human rights abuses taking place in Guantanamo over the last 5 years and the failure of our political leaders to take any action’ (Source: Anon 2007b np link).

[Nicholl said:] If William Wilberforce were alive today, I have absolutely no doubt that he’d be standing here today, doing the Shackle Shuffle, saying ‘This is outrageous’ (Source: Anon 2007d 1.21.35 link).

Sandy Mitchell, 44, from Kirkintilloch, was one of 6 people from Britain arrested 4 years ago [2003] after a series of bomb attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Sandy nobly brought his memories of torture back to Hiatt on a cold January day in Birmingham's Perry Bar. He demonstrated how he was tortured in a Saudi prison, with the complicity of the British government. Sandy spoke of how he was shackled above the door of his cell by his wrist using Hiatt's shackles. He was held there for between 10-12 hours a day for 8 days. He tried to stand on tiptoe to relieve the pressure on his wrist, but whenever he drifted off to sleep the prison guards would beat him with wooden axe handles to keep him awake. His body from the waist down was literally black and blue from these beatings. Just before leaving Hiatt, he put some closure on his horrific experiences by giving back his Hiatt's shackles to their manufacturers through the letter box (Source: Anon 2007a np link).

Inspiration / Process / Technique / Methodology

There was a time when ‘Made in England’ was stamped onto more things than it was not. The more nostalgic of you might want to pause for a moment in silent contemplation of Hornby model trains, Morris Minors, Raleigh bikes, toasted fruit bread and tea from a thermos with a cork in it. Now ‘Made in England’ is found on leg irons and footballers’ tattooed backs. Sandy Mitchell is far from the only British citizen to find the infamous refrain on the shackles that bound him. Patrick Foster was detailned on trumped-up charges in Saudi Arabia in 1995, and yet again the shackles that held him were ‘Made in England’. In 2002 the UK government’s dossier on Iraq’s human rights abuses listed the jailing of Mr Hussain al-Shahristani, who spent eleven years in prison for refusing to work on Saddam Hussain’s nuclear programme, a brave and noble stand. On the day the [UK] Foreign Secretary Jack Straw published the dossier, Shahristani said. ‘When I was in Jail I was held with British-made handcuffs’. … At least five British men held in Guantanamo Bay, the US detention camp in Cuba, saw ‘Made in England’ on their cuffs. Shafiq Iqbal, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed all come from the West Midlands and became known as the Tipton Three.… A regular part of their existence in Guantanamo Bay was interrogation. Shafiq says he was ‘shackled in a three-piece shackle, which basically meant my hands were tied, in front of me, and then attached to a belt which went around my waist. The chain of the leg irons I had around my ankles was about a foot in length which meant I could not walk properly but rather had to shuffle’. Once in the interrogation room the men were ‘long’ and ‘short’ shackled. ‘Long shackling is the procedure where a prisoner’s chains are attached to a metal ring embedded in the interrogation room floor, which gave them enough room to sit on a chair. In ‘short shackling’ prisoners have to squat on their haunches, put their arms between their legs and their chains are attached to the metal ring. Prisoners were kept in this position for hours on end. It was Asif Iqbal who said: ‘One thing that always stuck with me was that the handcuffs had ‘Made in England’ written on them. The Tipton Three are augmented by a fourth British citizen and former inmate of Guantanamo, Jamal Hareeth, who said he remembers ‘Made in England’ on his wrists. To the names of Jamal and the Tipton Three is now added Moazzam Begg, to bring the number of British citizens up to five. British equipment used on British citizens in a manner that would be illegal in Britain (Source: Thomas 2007 p.215-6).

Lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said: ‘My British clients, some of whom came from Birmingham, did not enjoy being reminded of home by the shackles on their wrists. ‘If an ethical foreign policy means anything, it means not profiting from the torment of our own people. The most effective counter-terrorism weapon available is to respect human rights, not abuse them’ (Source: Dogs of Blackpool 2005 np link).

As I sat across the table from the British prisoner Moazzam Begg in the infamous Camp Echo interrogation cells, I noticed the inscription ‘made in England’ on his steel waist shackles, above the name of the Hiatt corporation. Hiatt has a long history of making shackles that restrain the victims of torture. The company was founded in Birmingham, and boasts on its website: 'Simply the best since 1780.' Originally, Hiatt was 'simply the best' at making what it called 'nigger collars' for the slave trade. Moazzam is also from Birmingham, so every chafe at the wrist is a touching reminder of home. We know - from at least one letter he wrote that has been declassified - that Moazzam states he was tortured by the Americans when he got to Kandahar and Bagram airbase. There are a few questions that the public might want to ask: What did the British government know about the abuse, and when? What role did MI5 agents play in Moazzam's year in Afghanistan? Where was the Foreign Office? For the time being, Moazzam (and his lawyers) are gagged, and cannot answer these questions. Since February 2003, Moazzam has been held in Guantánamo Bay. What of the role played by the British government since then? An FCO [aka UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office] officer, who apparently does not have to respect US censorship laws, has publicly quoted Moazzam saying that he is 'fine' and is being 'treated well in Guantánamo'. As his lawyer, even though I have spoken with him at length, the censors will not let me reply to this. Yet based solely on the public, declassified facts, we know from his letter that Moazzam witnessed two other prisoners being killed in Bagram airbase. In addition to being tortured himself, he reported being interrogated while the room was 'resonant with terrifying screams of fellow prisoners' facing other abuse. For the first 18 months of his stay in Gitmo he was held in solitary confinement, sealed in a cell by himself Surely, only a visitor with a very weak grip on the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders could say that the prisoner was doing 'fine' after such an experience. The reasonable person might question whether the FCO official is either deluded or is a dupe for Dubya's interrogation camp. … The censors have the upper hand for now. So long as the truth is suppressed, the British role in the Gitmo gulag cannot be fully defined. History suggests that the truth will ultimately come to light. The government would be unwise to await unilateral exposure. … We should consider just how ethical our foreign or our domestic policy is when we allow people to suffer in prison cells, denied the most basic human and civil rights (Source: Stafford Smith 2004 np link).

The cuffs used at Guantánamo, which bind hands with a restraining device strapped around the body, bear the name Hiatt and the words ‘Made in England’ ... Mr Begg said: ‘When I was in Guantánamo Bay, one of the things I pointed out to my lawyer was how it was ironic that these shackles were made in England, just like me and him. It was very bizarre. Those shackles would often cut into my arms and legs and make me bleed. It was those very same shackles I saw being used by American soldiers in Bagram airbase to hang a prisoner from the ceiling. It said 'Made in England' on there too. If these cuffs are used to shackle people up to the tops of ceilings or cages and then [those people are] beaten, it calls into question what those shackles are actually being used for’... Mr Begg said that the handcuffs were attached to a ‘three-piece suit’. He said: ‘A pair of handcuffs was attached to a waist chain which was in turn attached to another chain which led from the waist to the ankle and was then attached to a leg iron’ (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Moazzam Begg recalls the memory of looking down at his shackles in Guantanamo and realizing they were inscribed with ‘Made In England.’ The shackles turned out to be manufactured only three miles from his childhood home at a factory run by the Hiatt & Company. In further bizarre coincidences, ‘hiatt’ is the Arabic word for life (Source: Anon 2009a np link).

Theo, the lead singer [of Sieze the Day] ... explained that a lot of the movements in Latin American and West Indian dance come from slavery. ‘This is what I was told. It’s all about moving the bits of your body of your body that you are able to wearing shackles. See,’ he says, demonstrating the restricted arm and leg movements’. ‘It’s all in the hips,’ he adds with a wiggle. ‘So it is completely appropriate that our song about Guantanamo Bay used a South American style’. … Which goes to explain why an eminent human rights lawyer is shaking his booty in an orange boiler suit. All of this is for the benefit of Hiatt, the British Company whose handcuffs keep cropping up in Guantanamo: attached to belly chains, combined with leg irons and manacles and shackled through rings on the floor (Source: Thomas 2007 p.206-7).

For three years we as British Muslims lay back and let non-Muslims do all the hard work to release our brothers from Cuba without any help from our side – now we have a chance to reclaim our lost honour by partaking in the FARD (political) Jihad ourselves. MPACUK tried to have a civilised conversation with Hiatts as we believe that trading such products is extremely immoral! However, Hiatt refused to comment by simply hanging up (leaving MPACUK slightly bewildered to say the least...) (Source: Anon 2005b np link).

Hiatt has been making shackles and other restraints since 1780 and boasted that it was ‘simply the best’ in the business. It produces handcuffs and batons for police forces across the UK, the US and many other countries. It made leg irons until the mid-1980s when their manufacture was banned by the British government. In the mid 1990s, journalists discovered that British-made leg irons could still be purchased in the US and elsewhere in spite of this ban (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Amnesty International has … criticised Hiatt, claiming that implements made by it have been used by despotic regimes around the world in the torture and incarceration of prisoners (Source: Anon nda np link).

[Amnesty International] has highlighted the use of Hiatt leg irons as instruments of torture, claiming that they were used on prisoners in Malawi and Saudi Arabia (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Hiatt-Thompson's ’three-piece suit' (ankles, waist, wrists) was used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, even though Amnesty International deems it inhumane (Source: Phillips 2008 p.126 link).

The [UK] Government is facing renewed calls to push the US for improved conditions, legal and human rights at Guantanamo Bay following revelations that a number of detainees, including one British-based man, were on hunger strike (Source: Connor 2005 np link).

Today [9 September 2005] marks the start of the fifth week of a hunger strike in the notorious detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. The detainees simple demand is that they be charged with a crime or set free. At least 10 British residents have been held there for more than three years, have been physically abused and have not been charged with any crime. The brother of one of us, Omar Deghayes, has been blinded in one eye as a result of this abuse. Their plight is made even more tragic by the knowledge that, on each and every prisoner who is being held there (including all those with close links to Britain), their restraints are clearly labelled ‘Hiatts - Made in England’. We do not mean to suggest that Hiatts' business, making shackles, is inherently unethical. However, it is vital that such corporations do not support governments that use torture and abuse. Sadly, Guantanamo Bay fails this test. This Birmingham-based business supplies the very restraints that hold Mr Deghayes and over 500 other individuals in a regimen which has been criticised by many, including former President Jimmy Carter, former President Bill Clinton, the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Bar Association, as being illegal, unjust and abusive. We therefore ask Hiatts to commit to voluntarily and permanently ban all further exports to the US military, and hence to Guantanamo Bay, given the notorious abuses practised there. … [signed] Moazzam Begg; Amani Deghayes; Clive Stafford Smith; Reprieve; Lynne Jones MP; Clare Short MP; Dr David Nicholl (Source: Begg et al. 2005 p.25 link).

Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes has been on hunger strike for more than a month in protest at his treatment. Mr Deghayes 36 of Brighton has not eaten for almost five weeks along with a number of other detainees at the military prison Camp XRay in Cuba. His actions have prompted renewed calls for the Government to push the US for improved conditions legal and human rights at the prison. His brother Abubaker Deghayes 37 said: ‘I'm really worried. Something really needs to be done. We can't just allow people to be oppressed and tortured’ (Source: Anon 2005a np).

Dr. Nicholl has written to Hiatts asking if they will voluntarily ban exports of handcuffs and all other restraints to the US whilst torture and abuse is still taking place. Hiatts have not responded to this letter or to Mr Stafford-Smith’s ‘Guardian article’ (20/12/2004),7369,1377418,00.html …  Asked why the activists were planning their protest, consultant neurologist Dr Nicholl replied: “The chairman of Hiatts is not a man who answers polite letters, so we felt we had to deliver a message that he couldn’t ignore” (Source: keyboard jockey 2005 np link).

This week [in January 2007] marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of the notorious US prison in Guantanamo Bay, where more than 400 men remain detained without charge, including the brother of one of us, Omar Deghayes, from Brighton. This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. These seemingly disparate events are linked by the Birmingham factory of Hiatt & Company, which used to make 'nigger collars' for the slave trade and more recently supplied the shackles used at Guantanamo. Clearly, Hiatt could argue that this is a legitimate activity, but we would question its corporate ethics, just as the abolitionists would have done two centuries ago. In President Pervez Musharraf's recent biography, he boasted that Pakistan had 'earned bounties totalling millions of dollars' for 'extraordinary renditions' to Guantanamo for people such as Omar Deghayes. Musharraf's comments and Hiatt's endeavours suggest that rendition is the 21st century slave trade, with Guantanamo and 100 secret prisons as the final destination for an estimated 14,000 individuals. As the abolitionist William Wilberforce put it: 'If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.' To this we will also plead guilty [at a protest outside the Hiatt factory] this week. [signed] Moazzam Begg, ex-Guantanamo inmate; Amani Deghayes, sister of detainee Omar Deghayes; Naeem Malik, Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign;; David Nicholl, Save Omar Campaign; Clare Short, MP; Dr Adnan Siddiqui, Cage Prisoners group; Clive Stafford-Smith, Reprieve campaign; Mark Thomas, author and arms activist (Source: Begg et al. 2007 p.26 link).

The plight of the British residents is desperate, the US government has refused independent medical assessments and the UK government has so far refused to intervene. Omar Deghayes is a British refugee from Libya who was given asylum in the UK in 1986 after his father was assassinated on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi. He completed a law degree at Wolverhampton University. He was arrested in Pakistan by US authorities in 2001, and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he has suffered numerous human rights abuses and is now completely blinded in one eye following an assault by a US soldier. No charges have ever been brought against him. However, the UK government has refused to intervene on his behalf, even though the Libyan security services have threatened to kill him if the US authorities ever send him to Libya. He has lived in Brighton for many years, and all his family are British citizens, yet every day, he is held in Hiatt shackles. The stories of the various British residents are equally horrifying. Binyam Mohammed was rendered to Morocco where his torturers took a razor blade to his penis. Shaker Aamer has a British wife and four young British children. Bisher Al Rawi and Jamil El Banna, far from being seized on the Afghan battlefield, were grabbed in the Gambia where they were setting up a peanut processing plant, and taken to Guantanamo. Ahmed Errachidi, 18 years a British resident, was working as a chef in London at the time the Americans allege he was training as a terrorist on the other side of the world (Source: Anon 2007b np link).

[Today] my client Ahmed Errachidi is shackled more heavily than normal. The authorities say he trained as a terrorist in Afghanistan during July 2001, and they call him ‘the General’, But, back in England, a researcher has just located the witnesses and records that prove his story: he worked in London as a chef for 18 years and when he was meant to be tossing hand grenades he was cooking eggs at the Westbury Hotel. ‘The cook has become the General; the crack of an egg has become the explosion of a bomb,’ as Ahmed likes to put it. His hands are shackled in a new blue box with Hiatt Thompson written on it. They dig into his wrists. This never ceases to piss me off. Hiatt is a Birmingham business, making money off the misery of a London chef. The indentations barely fade over the three hours I talk to him (Source: Stafford Smith 2006 np link).

Clive Stafford-Smith, the lawyer for eight of the ten British men being held in the jail in Cuba, as well as 30 other foreign nationals, said: ‘I have seen 20 prisoners in Guantanamo in Hiatt shackles’ (Source: Elkes 2007a p.15 link).

To access Amnesty International’s media pack on Guantánamo, please log on to (Source: sami_83 2006c np link).

Local campaigning and media work: Below you will find two main suggestions for media work around this ‘anniversary’ to support and publicise campaigning on the subject.  Please feel free to do either or both of these - or indeed something else of your own - to create media coverage of Al¹s concerns on Guantánamo Bay. Good luck! 1a. Public demo and photo-opportunity … Please consider organising a demonstration on Saturday 13 January to mark the week of the Guantánamo ‘anniversary’. Dress at least one member of the demonstration as a Guantánamo prisoner in the distinctive orange boiler-suit, black goggles (or blind-fold), face mask and handcuffs (hands tied with string would do!). Put a label on their chest saying ‘xx Amnesty group: end five years of injustice - close Guantánamo Bay!’. Have this person positioned in a highly visible location - shopping centre, town square, etc - and people on hand to engage members of the public by giving them copies of the fifth anniversary postcard/letter action to sign. b. If you have five or six willing volunteers, then you could organise a ‘Guantánamo chain-gang’: five or six people in boiler-suits, masks and goggles - all chained together (please get some light-weight chain and wrap it around the chain-gang members waists). See the photo of an [Amnesty International aka AI] chain-gang demonstration outside Parliament on 16 December. The chain-gang could then proceed through highly visible local places (check to see whether you need police permission if you are unsure). Invite the local newspaper, the radio station and television news team to the event, promising a strong visual and an AI spokesperson (possibly a person in the boiler-suit) able to talk about why you are staging the demonstration. Make the invite on the phone at least two days beforehand and be prepared to follow it up with an email with full details of the event and contact information; additionally, try to make a reminder call the day before. Also, please take your own digital photos so you can send them to your local newspaper and news websites if journalists don¹t attend your event. (Please see the Groups Media Handbook for more information on staging photo-opportunity events and liaising with journalists). *We are able to supply you with at least one of the boiler-suits (maximum of six). The deadline for requests for suits is Wednesday 10 January. … 2. Letter to a newspaper - Please note that the petition mentioned will be at the web address stated in time for the issuing of the letter to newspapers. You can also print out the petition and ask people to sign it during your actions, all petitions can be returned to AIUK [Amnesty International UK] by post c/o Sara Mac Neice. Whether or not you are able to hold the demonstration, please adapt and send this letter to your local newspaper. Ideally send the letter two or three days ahead of the anniversary, as the optimum publication day of publication is 11 January itself. If you are staging a demonstration, then the letter will help generate publicity for that as well - the template letter below includes reference to a demonstration (obviously don¹t include that part if you are not holding a demonstration). ‘Dear Sir / Madam, Five years ago today [11 January] the US authorities transported the first of over 750 prisoners to the military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Now, half a decade later, there are still nearly 400 prisoners held there. Not a single detainee has yet been put on trial and the only trials in prospect are unfair ‘military commission’ tribunals that can use information gained from torture and impose the death penalty. Amnesty International is calling for the camp to be closed and for all allegations of torture and mistreatment to be independently investigated. Meanwhile if there is any real evidence of wrongdoing by any of the detainees, then they should be put on trial before civilian courts on the US mainland. By setting a dire example to other countries around the world, the US has set back the cause of human rights significantly, and given those that recruit terrorists invaluable propaganda material. It’s time that the US ended this travesty of justice. xx Amnesty group is holding a demonstration on Saturday 13 January at xx. You can support Amnesty International’s ‘Close Guantanamo’ campaign by signing the petition at uk/guantanamo. Yours faithfully xxx (Source: sami_83 2007b np link).

Discussion / Responses

… thanks to the widespread reporting of this protest and the interest it generated through the BBC and the Guardian newspaper, the courageous and desperate struggle of the men and boys kidnapped by the Bush regime and deprived of their most basic human rights in the name of ‘defending democracy’ is now in the news. Public awareness of the Hunger Strike may make a difference for people like Omar Deghayes. Please take the time to read about his case - he needs us. They all need us. Every 'Human Right' we now take for granted was once a Human victory. If we do not protect them now, we may live to wish that we had when the same treatment is meted out to us, or those we love, in the future. I hope that people reading this will think of other ways to apply pressure on the UK and US government to end the 3 year nightmare of Guantanamo. There are 3 issues: 1) The export by Hiatt's of shackles - their address and phone number are available, and MPs may also want to raise it in parliament; 2) The plight of Omar Deghayes, who faces execution if the UK government force him to return to Libya upon his release; 3) The restoration of Human Rights to all the detainees, so that the hunger strike can end (Source: Merrick 2005 np link).

When asked about the allegations and the protest, Hiatt and Co Ltd said: ‘We don't wish to make any comment’ (Source: Connor 2005 np link).

Yesterday, Hiatt refused to take calls from the Guardian (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Management and workers were unavailable for comment at Hiatt today. The windows of the company were secured with metal shutters and nobody would answer the door to receive David Nicholls’ letter of protest. He pushed the letter under the door instead ... All along the sides of Hiatt's building are the tell tale signs that someone's been there before to show how outraged they are with what Hiatt produce. Red paint has been sprayed all over the side of the factory. One of the workers who worked in a neighbouring building called Hiatts Hardware wanted to make absolutely clear that Hiatt are the ones producing shackles, handcuffs and steel truncheons. He wanted to make it clear that Hiatts hardware just make locks and aren't related to Hiatt. He also added that Hiatt had been broken into many times lately and protesters had targeted the factory a couple of years ago. He hadn't heard of any arrests (Source: Anon 2005d np link).

Ms Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said yesterday: ‘I have no evidence to suggest they are currently exporting banned products but certainly they have in the past. I think it's worrying that these items are still exportable ... it is something they should be ashamed of’ (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Local MPs for Birmingham, Clare Short and Lynne Jones, are calling upon the company to cease such immoral trades of their own accord (Source: Anon 2005c np link).

In a letter published today in the Guardian, local Birmingham MPs Clare Short and Lynne Jones, and a former Guantánamo Bay detainee, Moazzam Begg, explain that they are asking Hiatt to ‘commit to voluntarily and permanently [banning] all further exports to the US military, and hence to Guantánamo Bay, given the notorious abuses practised there’ (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, in whose Birmingham Perry Barr constituency Hiatt's HQ is based, told BBC Radio 4's PM: ‘I think it is unethical to produce this sort of equipment. These are shackles, these are the ones that tie your ankles, your wrists and join them through a metal lever, so they restrict total movement. ‘If we can say to the farmers in Afghanistan 'stop producing poppy-fields because that is a harmful product you are producing', the same applies to this company. ‘If they are producing these handcuffs, which are abhorrent by all means, then what we have to do is look at how we can deal with that.’ Mr Mahmood said he would be meeting the company on Monday to see whether it can be given assistance to diversify to producing other goods without cutting jobs. Hiatt has declined media requests for a response to the allegations (Source: Woodcock 2005 np).

MPACUK [Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK] urges everyone to do the following: THANK the Guardian for running this piece – it is not acceptable to simply ignore good articles whilst complaining about the bad ones. Write to ‘Hiatt and Company’ and request that they cease trading in such immoral and unethical equipment, which will do nothing to improve community relations in this country. Remember to be polite, but firm (Source: Anon 2005c np link).

If you dislike this trade, it may be worth getting your MP to put some pressure on HM Customs and Excise to get on with their investigation. It should be noted though that these are not difficult items to make - the metalworking skills are available to anyone, and banning the export of handcuffs will not prevent the US from obtaining supply from any of the many other manufactures (Source: Anon 2005d np link).

Dear Editor, We were the organisers of last week's peaceful protest, outside the shackle maker Hiatt, in Perry Barr, marking the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. We want to make it absolutely clear that it is not our intention for Hiatt to close down, but to change its business practice. If there is any risk of Hiatt closing down, it is because of Hiatt's management, not due to a bunch of human rights activists. Hiatt was taken over as a subsidiary of the US company, Armor Holdings, in July last year and, according to its website, the stated aim was to ‘capitalize on Hiatt's strong presence and brand awareness outside of North America and to enhance its presence in the US’. Armor Holdings was listed at number three in Fortune magazine's 2006 list of the 100 most rapidly growing companies, and its share price has increased over 10 per cent in the last month alone. Thus, I believe, the only real risk to Hiatt's workers comes from its owners wanting to increase profitability yet further by increasing its US presence. We can all recollect the Chinese ‘takeaway’ of Rover, and we may yet see a US ‘take-away’ of Hiatt, so they can cynically minimise the transport costs to Guantanamo. The accusations regarding Hiatt's role with Guantanamo have been in the public domain for over two years. During this time, we have repeatedly asked specific questions regarding Hiatt's relationship with Guantanamo to its current and past directors, to the local MP, Khalid Mahmood, the Prime Minister, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Foreign Office and HM Customs and Excise. None of them have been answered satisfactorily to date. A freedom of information request and appeal were turned down as not in the ‘public interest’, which hardly seems tenable given the recent media interest.  Dr David Nicholl, Naeem Malik Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign (Source: Nicholl and Malik 2007 p.9 link).

Because the export of leg irons is banned and there is no domestic market, although UK police forces do have other devices to restrain the unruly, Hiatt leg irons are made in the US by Hiatt-Thompson. If you were to buy in the US, or anywhere else outside the UK, a set of leg irons with the 'HIATTS MADE IN ENGLAND' stamp, or a set of leg irons traceable by their serial number back to the UK then that would be prima facia evidence of a breach of the export restrictions. Customs and Excise claim to have done this, and there is an ongoing investigation. It gets a bit more complex though. It is possible that the offending items were exported before the ban came into force, by a party other than Hiatts, with an export licence or as unrestricted items (eg handcuffs) which were then modified by the US factory into restricted items (leg irons). The export of oversized handcuffs is a problem - there is a legitimate market for handcuffs for large wrists, however these can also be used as leg irons (lengthening the chain optional). A pair of handcuffs could be added to a waist chain, or to a chain linking to leg irons outside the UK (Source: Anon 2005d np link).

In 1986, Hiatt began a joint venture forming a separate firm in the US called Hiatt Thompson. It is understood that when US Customs officials visited Hiatt Thompson's headquarters in Bedford Park, Illinois, they found leg irons there with 'Made in England' stamped on them. However, the company replied that these items could have been old stock. Trade in leg irons is not banned in the US (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

However, the shop they came from said they were from a recent delivery. The company's US partner, Hiatt Thompson, uses the Hiatt and Co logo on its website to advertise leg cuffs...Robin Cook has promised to investigate how leg irons made in England were sold openly in the United States more than two years after the Government promised to ban their export. In a letter to The Independent, which revealed yesterday that the ‘cuffs’ from Hiatt in Birmingham were still on sale, the Foreign Secretary said he was determined to stop the trade. Officials would pursue the allegations, he added (Source: Abrams 1999 p.14 link).

Hiatt was investigated in 1999 and the Department of Trade and Industry said that ‘a possible loophole to control individual cuffs above a certain threshold was closed on August 31 2000’. In 2002, the Liberal Democrat MP David Chidgey complained to Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, that oversized handcuffs were still being exported by Hiatt. The government said it had issued no licences and had passed the matter on to HM Customs and Excise for investigation (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

Amnesty International was concerned that large, over-sized handcuffs were being made in the UK for export to foreign countries, where they were then converted into leg cuffs. In a report, the human rights organisation said: ‘Because the UK government does not require a licence to export handcuffs to the US, or any other country, there is no control on how British-made handcuffs are incorporated into other types of restraint equipment such as belly chains in countries like the US, even though such types of restraint equipment are banned in the UK’ (Source: Gillan 2005 np link).

[Hiatt and] company denied supplying direct to Guantanamo Bay. Hiatt consultant Geoff Cross said it dealt with police forces and Governments, including the UK and America. He said: ‘We have heard about these protests, but we are not aware that we supply Guantanamo Bay’ (Source: Elkes 2007a p.15 link).

A spokeswoman for BAE Systems – the parent company of Hiatt – said she could not confirm the link between the firm and the Guantanamo Bay internment camp. She said: ‘We can tell you who are customers are and one of our customers is the US Department of Defence. What they do with the products is really a question for them’ (Source: Anon 2008 np link).

[BAE spokeswoman] She confirmed that Hiatt & Co did supply the US Department of Defense but when asked if the company's goods were used at the Guantanamo camp, she said: ‘I couldn't possibly comment’ (Source: Horner 2008 p.5).

The company claims it sells to ‘reputable’ armed forces and police forces, including America's, but has no responsibility for what happens thereafter (Source: Elkes 2007b p.17 link).

The Foreign Office has so far refused to make any comment regarding Hiatt’s relationship with the Guantanamo regime, citing ‘commercial confidentiality’ (Source: Anon 2007c np link).

It's Not The Handcuff Companys Fault I Have A Pair Of Hiatt Handcuffs That I Purchased A Pair Of Their Hinged Cuffs. And I'm Not Complainging The Company Didn't Say To Handcuff You To The Top Of You'r Door Now Did They (Source: Mark B 2009 np link).

[Man interviewed watching the protest] I can see they want to get Bush and tackle him outside here and, what do you call the Prime Minister? Tony Blair. Tony Blair. And shackle him outside here. That’s what they want to do. You’d be happy to see Bush and Blair shackled outside..? Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. [laughs and walks away] (Source: in thestirrer 2007b np link).

One passer-by who didn't want to be filmed was disgusted at the prospect that Hiatt might be closed down as a result of the protests. She told us: ‘They've shut everything else down, at least they are still making something here.’ And a worker at the factory next door argued that even if Hiatt closed there would be another company somewhere else willing to make similar restraints so the problem wouldn't go away (Source: thestirrer 2007a np link).

Outcomes / Impacts

A campaigning Hagley doctor is hitting the silver screen in a controversial film set to shock the establishment. Dr David Nicholl, a long-time civil rights activist, is appearing in Taking Liberties, a documentary designed to illustrate how director Chris Atkins believes the Blair government has stolen personal freedom. Dr Nicholl, from Woodland Avenue, is featured leading protests against the Hiatt's factory in Birmingham which he says sells handcuffs and shackles to the American military for use in detention centres like Guantanamo Bay. Dr Nicholl said: ‘We weren't saying there shouldn't be a handcuff factory, just that it shouldn't be selling to regimes that persecute and torture. ‘It seems to me a basic principle that if the state says it's got evidence to lock people up, it should bring that evidence before open court, and have it tested’ (Source: Smith 2007 np).

Hiatt & Co of Baltimore Road is set to cease production in Birmingham, with the loss of 15 jobs, having been established in the city since 1780. The move follows a year-long consolidation process, after BAE Systems acquired the business when it bought parent company Armor Holdings in July 2007 … The site on Baltimore Road is believed to be leased and no plans for its future have been detailed (Source: Horner 2008 p.5).

Production will now be shifted to a factory in the United States where the handcuffs will be made by Hiatt of New Hampshire. Last year it began making cuffs in a range of colours - pink, purple, green, blue, yellow and orange (Source: Anon nda np link).

Future Hiatts products will be stamped made in USA (Source: Handcuff Warehouse 2008a np link).

There had been fears that the move would disrupt supplies to police forces in the UK - almost all of which use Hiatt restraining products. But the spokeswoman for the firm denied this, saying: ‘We are a global firm so we have extremely good distribution across the UK so it's more of an internal move for better operation efficiency’ ... the site was due to close as part of a company restructuring to save money on management and distribution (Source: Scotney 2008 p.6 link).

Police are turning to eBay to buy handcuffs because the firm that makes them has gone bust ... Now desperate officers are turning to the auction website to order new equipment. One police source said: ‘It is already a problem. I called the other day to buy in some stock and was told: 'We can't do your order, we're closing.' ‘It was the first I'd heard of it.’ Another police worker added: ‘I'm thinking of looking on eBay if I can't get any cuffs in the next day or two’ (Source: Hughes 2008 np).

[A] Times article focuses on potential shortages [caused by the factory closure], but Hiatt made a of stockpile of product in anticipation of moving the factory, so I don't think it will be a big problem. Going forward, there may be delays with export shipments of Hiatts products because an individual export license from the US Department of Commerce is required for every shipment out of the USA. This will delay all orders by at least a month and may limit their ability to sell to some foreign countries, agencies, and businesses. Some posters speculate that they were run out of the country by protestors. I believe it was a simple business decision. There were only 15 employees at the factory. The business will be easy to move and will be better integrated with the rest of the US based BAE businesses that were formerly part of the Armor Holdings Products Group (Source: Handcuff Warehouse 2008b np link).

While police officers may be lamenting the demise of Hiatt, human rights campaigners will be celebrating (Source: Anon nda np link).
Naeem Malik, a member of the group [Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign], said it was a good sign to see the company leave, even though production would still carry on (Source: Scotney 2008 p.6 link).

[Malik said] ‘I’m glad that there’s one less British company involved in what’s happening in Guantanamo’ (Source: Anon 2008 np link).

Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg said he was delighted to see the company leave Birmingham, adding he had been ashamed that the company, based just a few miles from where he lived, had allegedly helped to keep him locked up. Mr Begg spent nearly three years in Guantanamo Bay as a suspected terrorist. He was released in January 2005 without charge (Source: Anon 2008 np link).

[Begg said] ‘The fact they are closing is great news, and it's appropriate that they're going to America, where they'll be closer to where they are used’ (Source: Scotney 2008 p.6 link).

Defining quality for more than 225 years. Hiatt handcuffs are now a part of Safariland: We are pleased to announce that the quality line of Hiatt® handcuffs has been rebranded under the Safariland™ name. With a wide variety of restraints including chain, hinged, specialty hinged, oversized and lightweight handcuffs, you can count on the same high quality construction and features from a name you trust (Source: Anon 2009b np link).

I was wondering if anyone knew about the current status of Safariland's (BAE's) plans for the Hiatt range. I know they have released a few cuffs recently, including the new copies of the 2010 & 2050. I'm curious to know if they are going to be releasing the speedcuff again. Some suppliers do have new speedcuffs, but they appear to be old stock that were made in Birmingham. It's interesting if they don't, considering the popularity the model had with UK police forces, I would have thought that alone would have been of great interest to them to continue (Source: Brown 2009a np link).

My understanding is that Safariland are now producing/marketing both Hiatt-style cuffs and Monadnock gear under the Safariland name and that they have, or will shortly, cease to use the name Hiatt. HiattThompson continue to operate in the States entirely separate from Safariland (Source: Mikeintightpants 2009 2009a np link).

They are, but they seem to be moving away from H-T and towards just Thompson. It seems that the Hiatt name will be extinguished (Source: Dennis 2009 np link).

Dennis, You seem to be right, HT are going to become just Thompson. It may be due to the negative publicity around accusations that Hiatt legs irons were in use in Guantanamo Bay a few years ago, I know there were demonstrations outside the Birmingham factory (Source: Brown 2009b np link).

Monadnock, an employer of 24 people in Fitzwilliam, will be closing at the end of September ... The Fitzwilliam facility produces Monadnock brand batons for law enforcement and Hiatt and Safariland brand handcuffs, and has been owned by BAE Systems since 2007. Monadnock had previously been owned by Armor Holdings, which was bought by BAE. The move will result in ‘significant cost savings,’ Mathias said. The production of batons will be moved to Pittsfield, Mass., and the production of handcuffs to Ontario, Calif. BAE Systems, a global defense, security and aerospace company, has about 107,000 employees worldwide and in 2009 reported sales of $36.2 billion, according to its website (Source: Anon 2010 np link).

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Compiled by Diana Shifrina, edited by Ian Cook (last updated May 2013). Legoing by Sabrina Skau.