Saturday, December 13, 2008
My Gunatanamo Diary, The Detainess and the Stories They Told me, By Mahvish Rukhsana Khan
We all know that our government runs a high security detention center in Guantanamo Bay. It is located outside of the US so that our government does not have to comply with federal and state laws/regulations when dealing with the inmates. If you pay closer attention you realise that our government is depriving the detainees their basic human rights and if you look even closer you realise they are abusing/dehumanizing them and like me get really angry. This is how Mahvish felt, really angry. While attending law school in Florida she would spend her free time researching the situation at Guantanamo and bitch her boyfriend's ear off about it. She decided to do something about it. Being the daughter of Afghan immigrants and fluent in Pashto, she contacted several law firms that represented inmates at Gitmo and offered up her translation abilities. After connecting with lawyers that were grateful for her assistance she managed to pass the arduous FBI screening and gain access to the base. Over the course of the past few years Masvish meet with dozens of inmates and grew to know and befriend them. She was a native face that followed their customs and shared their culture. Mahvish earned their trust even after they all had endured being physically and emotionally abused for the better part of this last decade.
This has been the best book I've read this year. I was concerned about the weight of the subject, presuming it would be really hard to get through, but I actually found myself laughing out loud at times. Mahvish is a brilliant story teller. Yes the subject matter is heavy, but Mahvish balances the details of the horrific abuses at gitmo and bagram with anecdotal life stories of the detainees, experiences of the lawyers as well as the rich details of her incredible journey to Afghanistan.
She identifies as a feminist and a Muslim, a voice that needs a louder mic right now. She inspires me in her ability to look past peoples sexism and still have the compassion to help them. I also feel closer to knowing about the Afghan people. The Afghans are so dehumanized by our main stream media It was refreshing to hear an honest voice on the matter. I now empathize with them more. Thank You Mahvish for being so rad. I can't believe your not even 30 years old yet, WTF.