I was introduced to Mahvish Khan’s daring work by Irfan. Her close work at the infamous Guantanamo Bay is remarkable for the insights and reversal of the dehumanisation that was until recently sanctioned by the state and corporate media.. An excerpt from her promising books – MY GUANTÁNAMO DIARY: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me – is avaialble at her website. I am also posting a little introduction after the excerpt:
It’s easy to mistreat something called No. 1154. It’s easy to shave its beard, to kick it around like an object, to spit on it, torture it, or make it cry. It’s harder to dole out such abuse when No. 1154 retains its identity: Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi, a pediatrician who fled the Taliban, worked for the United Nations encouraging Afghans to participate and vote in the new democracy. It’s harder to hate No. 1154 when you realize that he’s more like you than he is different. His wife, an economist by profession, waits month after month, year after year for the news that her husband is coming home; his two sons and young daughter grow up without him.
The numbers denied the humanity of those assigned to them:….
It’s easy to skim over the numbers. And there are hundreds like them.”
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is an American lawyer, born to immigrant Pashtun parents in Michigan. While persuing a law degree at the University of Miami, she became enraged by the illegal detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Having grown up listening to her mother tell her “Now is not the time to be complacent,” Khan felt compelled to help any way she could. With her fluency in Pashto and a familiarity with Afghan cultures and customs that no other “habeas” lawyer with security clearance had, she was quickly taken on as an interpreter for Afghan detainees. Six months later, in January 2006, Khan was on her way to Guantanamo Bay. Her role with the detainees quickly developed. She began providing supervised legal counsel and traveled to Afghanistan to find exonerating evidence for prisoners. […]