The Mauritanian - Close Guantanamo Activist Resources

Amnesty International Australia encourages activists and supporters to watch and discuss the film, The Mauritanian. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

The movie is the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the US government for years. Alone and afraid, Salahi (played by Tahar Rahim) finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (played by Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the US government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn.

Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up.

Amnesty activists campaigned for Mohamedou’s freedom while he was detained. Join our campaign to call on President Biden to close the military detention camp at Guantánamo once and for all!

Take action here

To learn more about the broader human rights issues related to Guantanamo Bay you could take our Human Rights Education course on our Amnesty Academy on the right to freedom from torture.

Consider what you could do to take action for 26 June: The UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

From Mohamedou

I’m just one person to be freed: today, Guantánamo remains open. Forty Muslim men are still held there behind bars, most of whom have also never been charged with a crime nor given a fair trial. President Biden needs to end these grave human rights violations by closing Guantánamo.

During my first few years detained, I was subject to what most people couldn’t even imagine: extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, frigid rooms, beatings, humiliations, and threats made against not only me, but my mother, too. One day, I was blindfolded and taken out to sea in a boat for a mock execution.

In 2010, a military prosecutor acknowledged that there was no untortured evidence to charge me with any crimes… and a federal judge ordered my release. But the U.S. government appealed and continued to hold me without charge or trial until my release to my home country of Mauritania six years later. During this time I was waiting to go home, my mother passed away, not knowing whether I would ever be set free. And now that I am free, I’m facing another kind of prison — the stigma of being a former detainee means that governments severely restrict my freedom of movement. I can’t travel to receive much-needed medical attention for the damage that was done to my body from the torture I endured. I can’t even visit my baby son and wife abroad.

I am still so thankful for my freedom — but my story is not unlike others who remain there to this day.

President Biden has made important changes on human rights already, but he hasn’t yet said what he’ll do about Guantánamo. That’s where we come in — where defenders of human rights speak up and join Amnesty International’s all-important campaign.

During my time behind bars, I knew that there were many people fighting for my freedom. I am so grateful for all the people who spoke out for me when I didn’t have a voice — and I am grateful for Amnesty International, which has been fighting for justice and human rights for Guantánamo detainees since its opening in 2002.

When human rights advocates speak up, we can make a huge difference. We can secure human rights for all.

Mohamedou Slahi. © International Committee of the Red Cross
Mohamedou Slahi. © International Committee of the Red Cross

Guantánamo Updates

Forty men remain in Guantánamo today. They are all Muslim. Most have never even been charged with crimes. Six have been cleared to leave , yet the government has made no efforts to transfer them out of the prison.

The military commissions have barely moved forward: they are still unfair, and deny detainees fair-trial rights. President Biden has pledged to launch a review into closing Guantánamo, and we need to pressure him to follow through with it, to put an end to this symbol of injustice, torture, and indefinite detention – once and for all.

Amnesty International has released a new report highlighting ongoing and historic human rights violations at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, as detentions there enter their 20th year and as a new President prepares to enter the White House. Check out the full report, entitled USA: Right the Wrong, Decision Time on Guantánamo.

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Amanda Atlee is the Organising Lead at Amnesty International Australia