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Letter: Questions regarding Hiatt/Guantanamo.


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
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 20, 2007
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