24 November 2021

Rupture and reckoning: 20 years of Guantánamo

24 November 2021, 6:00 pm

An interdisciplinary event series reflecting on the legacy of the notorious detention camp and US counter-terrorism policy two decades after 9/11

September 2021 – January 2022

Exactly four months after the 11 September 2001 attacks that led US President George W Bush to launch the global “war on terror,” the US military began transferring detainees to the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay. The first images from the camp showed men in orange jumpsuits, shackled and fitted with sensory deprivation gear, forced to kneel on gravel in front of metal outdoor cages. US officials strategically chose the isolated detention camp on the island of Cuba because they asserted it to be beyond the reach of law. Since then, Guantánamo has become synonymous with horrific crimes, including rendition, torture and indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Still in operation today, Guantánamo remains a global symbol of injustice and an enduring stain on the US. It also calls into question the viability of the global human rights system that has, to date, failed to shutter it. Guantánamo’s legacy – of norms, principles and law pushed to and beyond their breaking point in ways both spectacularly brutal and banal – does not belong to the past. Its echoes are evident in today’s mass surveillance systems, fortressed borders, and drone warfare around the world.

As an organization that has worked closely with former Guantánamo detainees and partner organizations to seek justice and accountability in European courts, ECCHR will convene an interdisciplinary event series between the twenty-year anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks and Guantánamo’s opening on 11 January 2002.

Between September 2021 and January 2022, anchored in but not limited to Berlin, the series will engage with Guantánamo’s legacy through a variety of mediums, formats and disciplines. It will feature film screenings, book talks, panel discussions, visual art exhibitions, and the launch of an anthology. The series aims to spur public reflection, debate and ideas for closing the detention camp, on the erosion of international law and charting a different future.


The events:

11 September 2021: Guantánamo voices: True accounts from the world’s most infamous prison - Book talk @ Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin. More information.

11 September 2021: In Search of Monsters - Open air film screening and talk @ Human Rights Film Festival Berlin. More information.

21 September 2021: The war on terror in court - Panel discussion (online). More information.

24 November 2021:  “Moving the Bar" - A Book Talk about Michael Ratner's Radical Lawyering @ ECCHR & online. More information.

11 January 2022: Guantánamo turns 20 - Online event for the launch of the anthology and digital art exhibition. More information.

11 January 2022: Gitmo images and imaginaries - Digital art exhibition @ ECCHR (online). More information.

20 January 2022: Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay - Talk at photo exhibition @ Stadthaus Ulm. More information.

25 April 2022: Rabiye Kurnaz v. George W. Bush - Special preview and panel discussion in Berlin. More Information.


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