Give The Man His Poetry

My attention was first drawn to the plight of Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost by an article posted yesterday by Aine Macdermot here. In brief, this Afghani man was held in Guantanamo for three years as an “enemy combatant” before being sent before a military tribunal, whereupon he was released and sent home without so much as an “Oops! Sorry about that.” In the various articles online about his case, he actually seems pretty mellow about the whole thing…except that our military promised him he would be given back all the poetry he had written while being detained, and he never has. What follows is my letter to the Department of Defense and contacts at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Be assured that if I ever hear anything back, I will let you know. It has been said in the comment thread that follows the original article that this is a small thing, less important than securing the release of the rest of the prisoners held in Guantanamo. I certainly will not suggest that this is not true. However, sometimes small things are exemplary of the larger issues. In this case, the callous indifference of the military to this man’s work is indicative of our general disregard for the humanity of people we regard as “enemies”

If you are inclined to follow suit and send a letter of your own, they can be sent to:

[email protected] — Guantanamo — DOD

If you have any ideas for other folks to contact, please fee free to post them here.

To Whom It May Concern:

It is my understanding that you held as an enemy combatant one Mr. Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost at Guantanamo Naval Base from 2002-2005. In 2005 he was sent before a military tribunal which declared him “no longer” an enemy combatant and sent him home to Peshawar. Upon release he was assured that the poetry he had penned while being detained would be returned to him upon his arrival home. As of this writing, I can find no evidence in the reported news that he has ever received his property.

To take three years of a man’s life is a painful mistake to make. Surely the least that we, as a nation, owe this man is the fruit of his ordeal. This is the kind of unconscious oversight which makes people question our undoubtedly unavoidable overreach of power into the personal lives of individuals. There are many artists, writers, scientists, and other creative people in this nation who balk at the notion that something so precious could be taken away, especially when so much else has been lost.
I ask you, for your own public standing as well as for the sake of this one man, to return the poetry of Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost immediately.

Thank You For Your Consideration,