University of San Diego to Host "Poems From Guantanamo"

SAN DIEGO—Tomorrow, the University of San Diego is hosting a rare opportunity to hear the words of detainees from Guantanamo Bay detainment facility, on the southeastern coast of Cuba. The readings, at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, will feature panelists who have spent a considerable amount of their career working with prisoners. William Aceves, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of Law, California Western School of Law will speak, as will  Steven Hubachek, a supervisory appellate attorney for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, and  Sean Riordan, a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney for the  American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego. Actors from “Write Out Loud” will read poem selections, after which the panelists will offer comments and then take questions from the audience. 

The poems, which are in some cases the only form of outreach prisoners have while confined to Guantanamo Bay, talk of the desperation and solitude that face the prisoners every day.

The below poem, written by Jumah al Dossari, is an example of the desperation felt by prisoners after being held for five years, and since 2003, in solitary confinement.

Death Poem by Jumah al Dossari*

Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the “protectors of peace.”

* source:

Poems from Guantanamo: the Detainees Speak will take place Tuesday, May 4th from 7:00-8:30 P.M. at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theater. It is free and open to the public.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.