This month the Political Society were extremely fortunate to hear from Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was detained without charge as a 14-year-old at the infamous Guantanamo Bay. Mohamedou’s honest and emotional recollection of this time, Guantánamo Diary, has recently been adapted in the BAFTA-nominated film The Mauritanian.
Mohamedou began the webinar by introducing the audience of students from Eton and partner schools to his incredible life-story. He detailed his kidnap and the tragic image of his mother, who he last remembers seeing in the rear-view mirror as he was driven away from his home, to his time in Jordan, Bagram, and eventually Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, where he was subjected to extreme methods of torture.
Questions from the virtual audience came in droves, with many expressing interest in the potential closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Mohamedou thinks might be a realistic prospect under President Biden. Mohamedou’s reflection on the importance of forgiveness, which has seen him spend time with his former guards, was particularly powerful, underscoring his ambition to “promote the benevolence of human rights”.
Mohamedou’s optimism and openness ensured a highly engaging talk, for which we are all extremely grateful. We all learnt from his positive attitude and it was a pleasure to be able to speak with him live via Zoom from Nouakchott, Mauritania.