Friday, January 15, 2010

Our January Author: Mahvish Khan

Mahvish Khan, author of this month's selection, My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me, has her own website: Mahvish. You'll find pictures from Guantanamo, Afghanistan and the detainees and their families there. Guantanamo is a popular place for photo essayists. See also these provocative photo collections from TIME, Edmund Clark at lens culture and more from the Boston Globe.

Video of talks given by Khan are available from Authors@Google and ForaTV.

To follow up on the status of prisoners mentioned in the book or others you may have read about or written an Amnesty action on behalf of, you can consult the NYT's Guantánamo Docket. The Washington Post has a Guantanamo Bay Timeline that could be useful as well. Two of the NGO's featured prominently in the book are the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. CCR runs down all the Supreme Court cases concerning Guantanamo inmates and Reprieve does a good job of featuring the stories of their various detainee clients. Reprieve's director, Clive Stafford Smith wrote in the LATimes in 2007,
In more than 20 years trying death-penalty cases, I have visited all the worst prisons in the Deep South, yet none compares to Camp Six here. To the military, this tribute to Halliburton's profiteering is state-of-the-art; to the human being, it is simply inhumane.
The ACLU is always a worth a look too: Close Gitmo & End Military Commissions. And of course, you should check out Amnesty International USA's Counter Terror with Justice page, especially the current actions on behalf of detainees.

NPR reports on Guantanamo poetry and Harper's adds a poem from Jumah al-Dossary, who also penned this account of his imprisonment for the Washington Post, I'm Home, but Still Haunted by Guantanamo, leaving us with a little hope,
In Guantanamo, I was very angry with the people who had decided to hold me thousands of miles from home without charging or trying me. I was very angry with the people who kept me in isolation even when I was at my most desperate. I was very angry about having no rights at all. I was not angry with Americans in general and I even drew comfort from some, such as my lawyers and the kind soldier. But I could scarcely comprehend how U.S. policy had allowed me to be treated as I had been.
On the plane ride home, though, I decided that I would have to forgive to go on with my life. I also know that Sept. 11 was a great tragedy that caused some people to do dark things that they would not otherwise do. This knowledge helped me forget my miserable existence in Guantanamo and open my heart to life again...
Would that we could leave this behind us too, but the matter of what happens after Guantanamo still confronts us. I leave you with this post, Obama & the Guantanamo Mess: A Way Out? by David Cole from the New York Review blog as a signpost for discussion.
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