zondag 19 juni 2011
The Road To Guantanamo (2006)
Filming took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, which doubled as Cuba. Mat Whitecross is credited as co-director, and handled most of the interviews with the real-life counterparts to the main characters.
The original poster made to promote the film in the United States (shown right) was refused by the Motion Picture Association of America. The reason given was that the burlap sack over the detainee's head was considered to be depicting torture, and therefore inappropriate for young children to see. Howard Cohen of US-distributors Roadside Attractions condemned this as "inconsistent" when compared to the MPAA-approved posters for contemporary horror films such as Hard Candy or Hostel. The final version of the poster showed just the detainee's manacled hands
The film documents the personal accounts of Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul (the 'Tipton Three'); three young British men from Tipton in the West Midlands of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins who travelled to Pakistan in September 2001 just days after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA, ostensibly to a wedding of a friend of theirs. While staying at a mosque in Karachi, the three decided to take a rash and dangerous trip to Afghanistan to see first-hand the encounters of the region.
Mixed with interviews with the three men themselves, and archive news footage from the period, the film contains an account of the three men's experiences from their travels into Afghanistan and to their capture and imprisonment.
Travelling by van, Ruhal, Asif, and Shafiq, with two other friends, crossed the border in October 2001 just as US warplanes began attacking Taliban positions all over the country. They made it to Kandahar without incident, and later to the capital city of Kabul a few days later. After nearly a month of "lingering" aimlessly around Kabul, the Tipton Three decided to return to Pakistan. But through a combination of bad luck and the increasing chaos, the friends apparently took the wrong bus which travelled further into Afghanistan towards the north and the front-line fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance rebels. The convoy of vehicles they were riding in was hit by an airstrike, and they were left wandering around the trackless and inhospitable terrain of the unfamiliar country. In mid-November, near the town of Baghlan, the three came across a group of Taliban fighters and asked to be taken to Pakistan, but they all were captured shortly thereafter by Northern Alliance soldiers.
Imprisoned at a base at Mazar-e Sharif, they were interrogated and discovered to be of British origin. With no luggage, money, passports, Ruhal, Asif, and Shafiq were handed over to the United States military and imprisoned in a US army stockade for a month with other prisoners, being regularly interrogated and occasionally beaten by US soldiers.
In January 2002, the 'Tipton Three' were declared "enemy combatants" by the US military, and flown with dozens of other alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they remained for the next two years. They were held in mostly solitary confinement without charge or legal representation.
The rest of the film shows several scenes depicting beatings during interrogation, the use of torture techniques such as 'stress positions' and attempts to extract forced confessions of involvement with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The isolation continued from the Camp X-Ray where they were held as well as another camp. During two years they were subjected to more questioning by US army and Central Intelligence Agency interrogators.
In one incident, one US army guard at Camp X-Ray desecrated one prisoner's Qur'an by throwing it to the ground to incite a reaction from the rest of the prisoners.
In another incident, Ruhal witnessed a group of US soldiers severely beat up one unruly and mentally ill Arab prisoner for not obeying their orders. When Ruhal shouts out to the guards that the beatings and torture are in violation of the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of POWs, he is responded with laughter from the guards.
The Tipton Three were all released without charge and without any compensation for their imprisonment in 2004. The three were flown back to England where, one year later, they went back to Pakistan for the wedding they planned to attend in the first place.
The torture depicted in the film had to be softened from the detainees' claims for the benefit of the actors; according to Rizwan Ahmed, they were unable to bear the pain caused by the shackles pressing on their legs, and had to have them cushioned. They were also unable to remain in the stress positions depicted for more than an hour; the Tipton Three claim they were left in them for up to eight hours.