About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo - A Must See

If you have not had the chance to watch The Road to Guantanamo, please do so now.

Last night, I rented out the movie and decided to watch it. This part film part documentary is the most powerful movie I have seen lately. It sure is going to inform you, move you, anger you, shame you, and mobilize you to protect America from those sacrificing our values, our laws, our humanity, and our national security.

It is a must see. (I rent it out from Blockbuster video store)
Last August, I published a commentary in which I demanded that we either offer the detainees a fair trial or that we just shut down what I called the Gitmo Gulag. After watching the movie, I am more convinced that this detention camp serves mostly to degrade our morality and credibility.

Learn more about this movie

Read the following good review

ROAD TO GUANTANAMO: And Freedom and Justice for All!
By Salaam Abdul Khaliq

In the dead of night, the sound of bombs exploding around the truck carrying Taliban fighters is horrific. By pure happenstance, four British Muslims find themselves drawn into an unenviable predicament. Earlier in February of 2002, the four Brits flew to Pakistan where one of them was to be married. Moved by an Imam’s Friday sermon to help their co-religionists, the na├»ve four youngsters cross the Afghanistan border to help the collateral damage of the U.S.-led invasion. Days later, they are unknowingly driven to Kundiz, a Taliban stronghold.

Now, and in the middle of nowhere, they desperately try to claw onto the back of the only vehicle that will lead them to safety. The fourth friend is nowhere in sight. What is holding them from hopping on the truck is Asif’s shoe, which would not fit. Within seconds, a flash followed by a tremendous explosion pulverizes the truck and its human content to smithereens. The three friends are knocked back, unconscious. When they wake up in the morning, they find death everywhere. Without food, water or shelter, they are captured by Northern Alliance soldiers and eventually turned over to U.S. forces. After enduring several interrogations, they are flown to Guantanamo Bay with dozens of other prisoners.

In Camp Delta, the three Brits receive America’s special brand of hospitality, totally in line with the principles of justice pioneered by the Founding Fathers but re-imagined by the Bush administration. Definitions like “enemy combatants” are coined to bypass international law concerning POWs. Labels such as “cold-blooded murderers” are licentiously tagged to justify various forms of torture. The Muslim inmates are held in open-air fenced cages much worse than animals at the zoo. Without a shred of evidence against them and without access to legal counsel, the detainees are not allowed to talk, stand or pray. They are forced to wear goggles and exercise only once a week for ten minutes. The rest of the time they have to remain crouched in their cells under the searing heat. Periodically, they are taken to an empty room and pestered with deafening music and flash strobes while shackled to the ground. To top if off, their holy book is kicked and trampled on (although the flushing down the toilet part was not shown.) For the latter, the Americans have even bettered the Israelis whose Gestapo tactics they were schooled in.

The Road to Guantanamo by award-winning British director Michael Winterbottom could not be timelier. Only recently, three prisoners held at the facility were reported to have committed suicide. The father of the Yemeni deceased now claims that his son died under torture and has demanded a full autopsy to determine the actual cause of death. The United States is increasingly under pressure from the international community to close down the camp and come clean on its human rights violations. President Bush would have none of it. He has repeatedly refused to put an end to America’s shame among the nations. Guantanamo is a blot on the conscience of all Americans; it is making a pariah state of a country that is supposed to be the beacon of justice and liberty. The very principles of due process have been made a mockery of by a junta of hawks bent on redefining the Bill of Rights and the Constitution for the sake of their own devious desires for a New World Order. Surely, Washington and Jefferson must be throwing up in their graves.

After Britain lobbied for its citizens, the “Tipton Three,” as they came to be known, started getting better treatment at the camp and were eventually flown home where they were almost immediately set free. Close to 450 other unfortunate prisoners are still held at the facility with no relief in sight. The latest suicides are signs of worse things to come.

Incredibly, none of the ex-prisoners is bitter or angry. They have all said that the experience made them better Muslims and better persons and only wished the United States would apologize. After two years of wrongful imprisonment and torture, an apology is the least owed to them. Although they may never forget, they have already forgiven. If only those who walk the corridors of power could take heed.

Watch The Road to Guantanamo and weep. Either prosecute or set free those ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent.’ American principles of freedom and justice must never be compromised for the grandstanding of neo-fascism.


Steven Estrada said...

Hello Hussam

The issue of Gitmo is a great topic
I've read about and have seen films on it. This is one of those subjects that really gets Americans on opposite ends of things.

I know that all detainees are not enemy combatants, but many are. I'm amazed by anyone that wants to give these guys a trial. There must be limits to our compassion.

Your suggestion to give these detainees a trial or release them is a tough one for me to swallow. I disagree strongly.

I know about due process, but I don't think it should apply to these individuals. As long as we have American soldiers risking their lives fighting this war I think keeping most of these folks behind bars is a good idea.

With few exceptions these detainees are treated well. I believe the arguement that they are not is propaganda by the anti-war crowd. I know this propaganda hurts the morale of our soldiers so I'm doubly against it.

I will watch the film as you suggest, but I will be very wary of the filmakers agenda as I view their work.

During war: American soldier first everybody else comes second.

Hussam Ayloush said...

Hi Steve,
The jist of your comment is summarized in what you said:
"I know about due process, but I don't think it should apply to these individuals. "
Steve, are we God to determine who deserves due process and who does not? How are we to know that we actually have guilty people if we do not go through the process of proving their guilt. As a matter of fact, in the last few months, the Bush administration has quietly released hundreds of Gitmo detainees, after realizing that they were not connected to any terrorism whatsoever. Terrorists are to be punished. But we should not act like terrorists by targeting innocent people to pursue this goal. In America (and even on American-controlled Cuban land), all people are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. We have enough laws to prosecute and punish anyone involved in terrorism. We don't need to act above the law.

Please watch the movie and let me know if this is how you want our country to be acting like?