Spurred by the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, American lawyer Khan decided to offer help to the detainees.
Born to Afghan parents, she used her language skills as a translator, and from her time with these detainees she has written a diary that provides insights into the lives and families of those held at Guantanamo- The Commonwealth Club of California
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is an American lawyer, born to immigrant Pashtun parents in Michigan.
While pursuing a law degree at the University of Miami, she became enraged by the illegal detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Having grown up listening to her mother tell her, "Now is not the time to be complacent," Khan felt compelled to help any way she could. With her fluency in Pashto and a familiarity with Afghan cultures and customs that no other habeas lawyer with security clearance had, she was quickly taken on as an interpreter for Afghan detainees. Six months later, in January 2006, Khan was on her way to Guantanamo Bay.
Her role with the detainees quickly developed. She began providing supervised legal counsel and traveled to Afghanistan to find exonerating evidence for prisoners.
During more than thirty trips to Guantanamo, Khan unexpectedly connected with the very men that Donald Rumsfeld called "the worst of the worst." She brought them Starbucks chai, the closest available drink to the kind of tea they would drink at home. And they quickly befriended her, offering fatherly advice as well as a uniquely personal insight into their plight, and that of their families thousands of miles away.
As time went by, Khan began to question whether Guantanamo truly held America's most dangerous enemies. But regardless of each prisoner's innocence or guilt, she was determined to preserve their most fundamental right, the right to a fair trial.
For Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, the experience was a validation of her Afghan heritage, as well as her American Freedoms, which allowed her to intervene at Guantanamo purely out of her sense that it was the right thing to do. Her story is challenging, brave, and essential test of who she isâ - and who we are.
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is a recent law school graduate and journalist. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Washington Post, and other media. She lives in San Diego.
American Lawyer and author of My Guantanamo Diary Mahvish Khan describes why she wrote the book, humanizing the Guantanamo detainees by putting faces and names to the numbers that identify them collectively.
Mahvish Khan, lawyer and author of My Guantanamo Diary, recalls the story of Haji Nusrat, an 80 year old paraplegic detainee held without understanding his crime, and reportedly Guantanamo's eldest detainee.
Lawyer and journalist Mahvish Khan reads a suicide note from one of the Guantanamo detainees, an act indicative of the desperation of the prisoners and of the post traumatic stress disorder they develop.