In October 2001, nineteen year old Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany, traveled to Pakistan to learn more about his Muslim faith. A few weeks later, on the day he was to return to Germany, Kurnaz was arrested at a police checkpoint without explanation. Kurnaz was then handed over to the U.S. military and transported to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. After two months, Kurnaz was taken to Guantanamo and held prisoner for five years.
Murat Kurnaz' memoir, Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, with an introduction by Patti Smith, is a powerful reminder that every day human lives are at stake. During his imprisonment, Kurnaz suffered solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, and sexual humiliation. Despite his best efforts to communicate his innocence, Kurnaz was charged as an "enemy combatant" by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal in Guantanamo in September 2004.
This evening brings together the lawyers in Germany and the U.S. who fought for Murat's release, an ex-Guantanamo chaplain who was wrongly accused of espionage and imprisoned, and Guantanamo experts. Together they help us understand the political and legal context, give us the perspective from the "other side of the wire," and deliver a picture of life in Guantanamo today. Wallace Shawn reads from Murat Kurnaz's memoir.
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