LONDON – Actress Vanessa Redgrave (search), her brother and the father of a Guantanamo detainee on Saturday launched a new political party devoted to human rights.
The Peace and Progress Party says it will field candidates and endorse politicians with strong human rights records in the next general election.
Organizers discussed the party's platform and strategies at a conference that drew several hundred people.
"Our goal is to ring the alarm bells about the human rights abuses our government is sanctioning, and to act as a focus for people who want to stand up against them," said Vanessa Redgrave's brother, political activist Corin Redgrave.
Redgrave suggested four British prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (search) could run as party candidates, as a means of protesting against their detention and the alleged human rights abuses at the prison on a U.S. naval base in Cuba.
"It could be one highly effective way of sending a message through the polls," Corin Redgrave said, recalling how the Irish nationalist cause was buoyed when the 1980s hunger-striking prisoner Bobby Sands was elected to Parliament.
Working for the release or fair trial of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay will be a focus for the group, said Azmat Begg, whose son, Moazzam Begg, is one of four Britons held at the prison in Guantanamo Bay.
"The mainstream political parties have shown no interest in the human rights abuses going at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq," Begg said. "That's why a party based on human rights as its central issue is so vital."
Other speakers at Saturday's conference included Burns Weston, president of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (search), and prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a vocal critic of Russia's military campaign against separatist rebels in Chechnya.