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Guantanamo Diary

ByChloe Henderson

Feb 10, 2015
Image: guardian.com

As the first and only account to be written and published by a still-imprisoned Guantanamo Bay detainee, Guantanamo Diary is by no means literature but a document of irrefutable historical importance. For 13 years Mohamedeu Slahi has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite having never been charged with a crime. In March 2010 the Supreme Court issued an order for his release, and yet there he remains with little indication the United States government ever plans to let him go. Three years into his sentence he began a diary of his life before he vanished into US custody; of his imprisonment, and of interrogation. He describes his torture and a deeply miscarried enactment of ‘justice’.

Riddled with state-ordered redactions and bumbling structure, Guantanamo Diary is hard to read in regards to both content and presentation. Yet Slahi’s recounting of over a decade of physical, psychological and sexual torture supercede any potential barriers thrown up by translation. The picture he paints of the United States’ most controversial prison is Orwellian, with tales of brutality and depravity standing in stark contrast to the nation’s self proclaimed title as protector of Human Rights. Guantanamo Diary is intended to be an eye opener, with the horrors of repeated beatings, coerced confessions, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and the withholding of basic human necessities making it a far from easy read. The volume of government redactions also makes you feel as if half of the story is missing. Yet despite its difficult subject matter and complicated presentation, Guantanamo Diary provides an important window into the sealed-off world of Guantanamo atrocities, and provides a platform for the plight of Slahi, and others like him, to receive the global awareness they deserve.


By Chloe Henderson

Chloe Henderson is a 3rd year history student and ex-Culture Editor for The Student. She now writes for various sections of the paper, with a particular focus on Science & Tech. Her dream job is to be a superhero, but failing that, a Middle East correspondent for Al-Jazeera.

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