Simon: The Smell of Freedom part 3

One of Simon’s latest projects has been an olfactory portrait of three powerful people. The finished fragrance was unveiled this week at our olfactory event in London. Limited quantities of the perfume are available to buy at the show and the fragrance will be available at gorillaperfume.com from August. This free event runs until 18th of July so you can still make it, though spaces are limited.

Part Three: Oudh Heart

Our light and airy London office on Carnaby Street is a long way from Guantanamo Bay. Shoppers bustle by, Pret churns out paninis and lattes and we’re all sitting quietly in the office, waiting. The buzzer sounds and someone picks up the receiver. “Hi, its Reprieve”, the voice says over the intercom and the buzzer opens the ground floor door.

Reprieve provide free legal help to prisoners around the world  to secure each person’s right to a fair trial. In 2008 Lush first contributed to Reprieves work by taking part in their ‘Fair Trial My  Arse’ campaign. All our staff wore oversized orange pants with the phrase ‘fair trial my arse’ emblazoned on them criticising the use of illegal prisons such as Guantanamo. We also sold two bath bombs, each with a picture of a prisoner from Guantanamo bay trapped in the centre. As the bomb fizzed away your particular prisoner would eerily float to the surface of your bath. One, Sami Al-Hajj, was on hunger strike at the time, being force fed by tube daily.

Over the next two years we continued the campaign, updating on progress as the team at Reprieve battled on for fair trials or release. Political pressure mounted and Lush itself came under fire for getting involved in events that were ‘none of our business’. Then the news came that Sami would be coming home, no charge, free to go. Frail and 55 pounds lighter than the he was when he was captured, but he would be returning. The wife and son he hadn’t seen for seven years were waiting for him as he struggled off the plane.

The news was received with great emotion at Lush as we had all become very attached to the plight of Sami, who, at the time of his illegal imprisonment was an Aljazeera cameraman travelling to Afghanistan with a legitimate visa. I was nervous and excited about being invited to meet him.

So on that day, accompanied by Reprieve representatives, Sami whose photos we had become all too familiar with entered the room . Looking healthier again he shook our hands and smiled widely. Sami had made a remarkable recovery in the few months after his release. As we sat down he gave a great speech to us. He was resolute in his commitment that what had happened wouldn’t overshadow his future. He wanted to create something positive from his ordeal and to move forward. He appreciated the thoughts and support from people all over the world and he took strength from the fact people had acted for him throughout his imprisonment.

Simon

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