Symposium: What Does It Mean to Make Art at Guantánamo?

Monday, October 16, 2017, 6:00-8:30pm

Haaren Hall, Room 630, John Jay College

Free and open to all. Enter at 899 10th Avenue, at 59th Street. You will need to check in with a photo ID at the security desk.

Opening Remarks from Karol Mason, President of John Jay College

Why does Guantánamo exist? How is art made there? What we should know about detainees who remain and those who have been released?

Aliya Hana Hussain, the Advocacy Program Manager for the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She travels to Guantanamo regularly to meet with CCR’s clients. In addition to public speaking, organizing events, actions, and rallies, and serving as a liaison between lawyers and grassroots activists, her work focuses on developing new and creative partnerships with artists, musicians, and activists to bring the stories of CCR’s clients to new platforms and audiences, including youth. Hussain was previously a Legal Worker at CCR and worked on cases and issues including unlawful detention, torture, and corporate accountability for human rights abuses. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Hussain was a legal assistant for the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project.

Mansoor Adayfi (via video link), was born in a small village in the mountains of western central Yemen. He left to finish high school in the capital, Sana’a, and began taking classes at a free Islamic nongovernmental institute. Shortly before 9/11, the head of the institute, whom he believed to be anti-Al-Qaeda, asked Adayfi to travel to Afghanistan. In Kandahar, Adayfi was sold to American authorities by a local war lord, and was eventually transfered to Guantánamo, where he was detained from February 9, 2002, to July 11, 2016, when he was transferred to Serbia. Adayfi was profiled in a February 2017 episode of PBS’ Frontline, and is currently at work on a memoir of his time at Guantánamo.

Debi Cornwall is a conceptual documentary artist who returned to creative expression in 2014 after a 12-year career as a civil rights lawyer. Her work marries empathy and dark humor with systemic critique. She is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, and practiced for more than a decade as a civil rights attorney representing innocent DNA exonerees. Informed by that experience, in 2014 she embarked on a three-year project to invite a renewed look at Guantánamo Bay and the men once held there, after they were cleared and freed. The result, Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay, is a book and exhibition combining photographs, archival materials, and first-person texts in English and Arabic.

Rabia Osman is a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Computer Science and Information Security. She was deeply marked by the discrimination and hatred she faced as a Muslim elementary school student during 9/11, especially via online platforms. Osman’s experiences with cyber bullying in the aftermath of 9/11 have motivated her to work towards a career as an advocate at the intersection of gender and law with technology by pursuing a career in cyberlaw. Osman was recently accepted into the Edward T. Rogowski CUNY Women’s Public Service Internship program, where she will be working closely with legislators working to benefit women and promote women’s issues in New York.