Land of the Free

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The Russian, Eastern & Oriental Fine Art Fair, an annual summer event in London’s Mayfair, displays fine art spanning the last 1,000 years. This year, works from Iran, India, China, Korea and Vietnam will be on display for the first time.

Among the more striking contemporary works is a set of photographs by Dhaka-born Shumon Ahmed. Ironically entitled Land of the Free, it comprises seven images detailing the experience of Mubarak Hussain, the only Bangladeshi to have returned from Guantanamo Bay.

The fair takes place on June 9-12 at the Park Lane Hotel. All images copyright of Shumon Ahmed, courtesy of the fair.

The story of Guantanamo Bay’s prison camp is as a horrifying one. In this place of torture, people became guinea pigs in a vast experiment of methods to crack the human soul. Mubarak Hussain Bin Abul Hashem is the only Bangladeshi to have returned from Guantanamo, after five years of imprisonment. © Shumon Ahmed

Whilst under US army custody, Mubarak was known as “Enemy Combatant Number 151”. © Shumon Ahmed

Mubarak still remembers how the US army brutalised him with the aid of an attack dog over and over again, while his hands were chained behind his back. : © Shumon Ahmed

Deeply traumatised from his experience in Guantanamo, Mubarak kept silent most of the time after returning home; to help him resettle into a normal life his family insisted he marry. He became the father of a baby girl in 2008. © Shumon Ahmed

There have been allegations of torture, sexual degradation, forced drugging and religious persecution committed by U.S. forces at Guantánamo Bay. Former Guantánamo detainee Mubarak Hussain was freed without charge on December 17, 2006, after five years internment. Mubarak has claimed that he was the victim of repeated torture while he was in Guantanamo Bay. © Shumon Ahmed

The abuse was “systematic”, with frequent beatings, choking, and sleep deprivation for days on end. Religious humiliation was also routine. © Shumon Ahmed

“On 17th of December, 2006, a special US Air Force plane flew Mubarak back to Bangladesh after failing to get any evidence of his alleged terror links. Bringing the story of his shattered past into life visually for the first time was an extremely difficult yet critical challenge for me. But it was crucial to vividly exhibit the human cost of the ‘Land of the Free’s’ ill-conceived and violently executed ‘War on Terror’. Which, like for so many others, changed the life of a Bangladeshi named Mubarak Hussain forever.” © Shumon Ahmed

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This entry was posted in Bangladesh, Capitalism, exploitation, Global Issues, Governance, Human rights, Imperialism, Islam, Media issues, Photography, politics, South Asia, Terrorism, war on terror, World and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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