Friday, November 03, 2006


Starring Riz Ahmed
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



How much is too much when considering the price of our freedoms and liberties? Do all people, regardless of race, creed, sex, ethnicity, or political affiliation, deserve legal representation? Watch THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO and then ask yourself these questions.

The Road to Guantanamo is about a group of friends known as
The Tipton Three, Middle Eastern men who live in England and decide to travel to Pakistan where one of them plans to be wed. Although they start out as four, one quickly disappears as they travel across the border into Afghanistan on a roadtrip. Unfortunately for them, this was right at the time the U.S. began its battle with the Taliban. Bombs drop around Shafiq, Ruhel, Monir, and Asif, the young men who start out on this hellish journey. They quickly try to get away but are led into even more dangerous areas by suspicious men with guns who lock them up in cargo trucks or force them to trek into the desert. Soon, U.S. and British forces arrive and take Shafiq, Ruhel, and Asif into custody. The whereabouts of Monir are never discovered. His body is never found.

Filmed using actors and the original Tipton three, the documentary is a disturbing treatise on prisoners of war. That we see the bizarre circumstances leading to their "arrest" and incarceration is even more disturbing considering these men were officially residents of England. But because they have Middle Eastern blood in their veins, they are immediately labeled as terrorists or Taliban fighters or (unbelievably) Al Qaeda.

The road that The Three travel is horrifying. Death hits near them on every stretch, nearly killing one or all of them at some point; whether its dysentery, Allied bombs, or torture.

It is this last that we become painfully aware of as The Three enter Cuba and the "Gitmo" detention center. Never having been charged with a single crime, nor having evidence against them, the U.S. forces continually inflict terrible pains on the men. Isolation. Loud music for hours and hours. Sitting in the scalding heat day in and day out. Being knocked down time and again during interrogations when they don’t give the interrogators the information they "want to hear."

Held for a little over two years, The Three are finally released without charges and returned to England. No apologies. No legal recourse. Nothing is available to them.

All of this sounds completely un-American and cruel. And it is. But there are some interesting points hit upon in the documentary that are simply left dangling, leaving it up to the audience to decide what they mean. Most importantly is that there’s really no explanation as to why The Three decided to go into Afghanistan in the first place. They just do. One might assume that they did it as a kind of fun roadtrip that went terribly awry. But this isn’t stated outright.

Still, the cost of freedom is implicitly felt throughout the film as the audience watches these men denied any sort of legal representation and then subjected to torture techniques that skim the legalities of
The Geneva Convention.

Click here for The Road to Guantanamo movie trailer!


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