Review: Don’t Forget Us Here


Photo courtesy of Yara Salamed/RooNews

Yara Salamed, Writer

  At 18 years old, Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni native, thought the best days of his life were ahead of him. His work as a research assistant in Afghanistan earned him a valuable reference letter, a student visa, and the money for a quality higher education at a university in the United Arab Emirates.

  That is until Adayfi was captured by warlords and sold to the United States as Guantanamo detainee number 441 for nearly 15 years without any charges.

  Adayfi narrated his traumatizing experiences with adequate detail in his book, “Don’t Forget Us Here.” The United States government held him captive on the basis that he was an alleged terrorist with ties to 9/11. However, there was never any evidence to support these assumptions.

  Instead, a series of interrogations were conducted for years to get Adayfi and other Guantanamo detainees to “break” on information they didn’t have because, they’re not terrorists. They’re just Muslim men who come from over 50 nationalities.  

  Adayfi wrote in the book, “Imagine if American boys, eighteen years old or even younger, had spent five, ten, twenty years without being charged with a crime, where they were tortured, punished for practicing their religion, experimented on, and forced to live in solitary confinement. This is Guantanamo.”

  As a believer of human rights, I am appalled by the fact that our government has spent the last 20 years running Guantanamo by kidnapping innocent Muslims, putting them through excruciating varieties of abuse and doing so with intense secrecy on the stipulation of war on terror. 

  The interrogations and living conditions inside Guantanamo consisted of abuse of all natures: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological. 

  Adayfi unraveled heart wrenching stories on the times he was beaten, electrocuted, stripped naked, hung from a ceiling, urinated on, kicked at, spit on, held in solitary confinement and more while detained.

  The name “Smiley Troublemaker” stuck with Adayfi throughout his years of illegal detention. This was largely because he led mass hunger strikes and protests amongst detainees with the hope of being treated and seen as human beings. 

  Earlier this year, UMKC English Professor Whitney Terrell interviewed Adayfi as a guest for his podcast, Literary Hub, to talk about the lawlessness and abuse that Guantanamo is founded upon for its 20th anniversary. 

  In this interview, Adayfi mentioned the hurt he felt when he recalled what a CIA agent said to him:

  “What am I going to tell the white house, the congress? We brought innocent people to this place? There are always victims of war, consider yourself one of them!” 

  It has become clear to me through research and informative first-hand experienced authors like Adayfi that Guantanamo is nothing but a manifestation of American Islamophobia. 

  American Islamophobia went on a staggering rise post 9/11, and has continued to brutalize Muslim community’s inside and outside of the U.S two decades later. 

  “The United States is a powerhouse that takes advantage of their power every day,” Maryam Oyebamij, a Muslim UMKC junior studying urban planning and design, said. “While 9/11 is truly devastating, the way the United States responded to it has cost millions of lives for over 20+ years.” 

  There are several ways in which Muslim lives have continued to be impacted by the U.S response to 9/11. Adayfi’s book is only one narration of this devastation inflicted upon Muslim lives.

  I encourage everyone to read his memoir and the memoirs of several other innocent former detainees who have exposed the lawlessness and oppressive nature of Guantanamo. As readers, it becomes very clear, very quickly that every aspect of Guantanamo is controversial in retrospect with American principles.

  Educating ourselves and advocacy are the beginning steps we can take to work towards restoring human rights by closing Guantanamo.  

  The pain Guantanamo has caused for so many can be put to an end, and hopefully, soon. 

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