Refugee Week at the BFI: Films By Libyan Exile Mohamed Maklouf

21.6.09

On Saturday, I was honoured to be invited along as a guest speaker at an event entitled, “Exile: Dreams and Nightmares” at the BFI (British Film Institute), part of an impressive week-long programme to mark Refugee Week. Saturday’s event featured four powerful documentaries by Mohamed Maklouf, a film-maker, journalist and Libyan exile, including “Home In Exile” (22 mins, 2007), which poignantly explores the experiences — and sense of loss — of Libyan exiles in the US and Germany, “Who’s Afraid of the Censor?” (11 mins, 2008) which takes an unflinching look at the ways in which the Egyptian regime stifles freedom of expression in the world of Egyptian independent cinema (2008, 11min), and “The Cage” (13 mins, 2005), a wonderfully expressionistic piece exploring the personal impact of exile. The latter is an independently produced film, but the first two were made for al-Jazeera International.

“Home In Exile” is available below (in two parts), and I urge you to watch it:

[Note 20/03/2017: The videos, which were here and here, seem to be no longer available].

Below is The Cage:

After the first two films were screened, David Somerset of the BFI’s Education Department, who organized the event, asked Mohamed to talk about his work, and also gave me an opportunity to talk about the experience of Libyan refugees (and refugees from other dictatorial regimes) who are regarded by the British government as “terror suspects,” but who, instead of being put on trial, are held on the basis of secret evidence that is not disclosed to them, and kept under virtual house arrest through the use of draconian control orders. These are topics that I have written about regularly, most recently in two articles, Death in Libya, betrayal in the West (for the Guardian), and Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence And Control Orders, and I’m delighted that, after coming across my work, Mohamed got in touch with me, and arranged with David for me to come along and talk.

The bitter irony — made all the more pointed after watching Mohamed’s films, which expose the brutality of the regimes in Libya and Egypt — is that these men, once friends to the West because of their opposition to Colonel Gaddafi, are now pawns in a deadly game that was initiated when Gaddafi, once the pariah and international terrorist, changed sides and became a friend to the West after the 9/11 attacks, and, overnight, they became terror suspects instead.

I hope to write more about Libya, and the West’s relationship to Colonel Gaddafi, in the near future, but in the meantime, for another sordid story (which involves the US, and its abominable use of “extraordinary rendition” and torture), see my recent world exclusive, New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

2 Responses

  1. Connie L. Nash says...

    Former American Psychological Association President had long time CIA connection

    by Stephen Soldz

    Just out from our NC Stop Torture Now folk – most of U probably saw this? I hope U will let me know if this is NOT OK to place such comments under tangentially-related posts? Although to us working to stop Extraordinary Renditions – this new info is QUITE related.

    Nathaniel Raymond of Physicians for Human Rights has posted a piece on the PHR blog discussing Jane Mayer’s blockbuster revelation last weekend that former American Psychological Association [APA] President Joseph Matarazzo had a long relationship with the CIA, serving on its professional-standards board. This relationship antedated the creation of the agency’s “enhanced interrogations” torture program. This new information helps put in perspective the revelation in an NPR interview by Navy psychologist [and former APA ethics policy-maker] Bryce Lefever that Matarazzo had been recruiting SERE psychologists to “do their duty” to protect the country in the summer of 2001, before 911! The nature of the pre-911 activities for which Matarazzo was recruiting assistance are still secret. We also don’t know what was involved in serving on the agency’s professional-standards board.

    Suspicions of Matarazzo’s CIA connection are not new. It was reported in 2007 that Matarazzo was on the board of Mitchell Jessen & Associates, the consulting firm owned by former SERE psychologists that designed and implemented the CIA torture program, for $1,000 a day, plus expenses. As is par for the course, Matarazzo then issued a non-denial denial, in which, as had Mitchell and Jessen previously, he denied he had participated in torture and stated that he abhorred torture. He, of course like Mitchell and Jessen before him, neglected to mention his opinion of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program.

    In response to the revelations of Matarazzo’s involvement, the APA immediately denied that Matarazzo was presently involved in “APA governance,” just as they had previously denied that Mitchell and Jessen were members. But, just as they neglected to mention that they had included Mitchell and Jessen in their invitation-only 2003 CIA-APA-Rand workshop on the Science of Deception at which enhanced interrogation tactics were discussed, so they appeared unfazed that a former APA President was possibly involved in the CIA’s torture program. Of course, the fact that this CIA-connected psychologist and former President was still actively involved in the APA’s foundation, pot! entially giving him influence over what projects were funded, was acknowledged but promptly forgotten, never to be mentioned again. The APA never publicly commented again about this former President’s possible torture connection. They certainly took no steps to learn more or to determine if others connected to the APA had been involved in the U.S. torture efforts.

    One wonders how many other former APA Presidents and other officials will eventually be found to be CIA or other intelligence agency connected. As Raymond emphasizes– and as the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Psychologists for an Ethical APA, and Physicians For Human Rights, have all called for — we desperately need a Commission of Inquiry to look into the torture psychologists and the assistance given them by the APA. The organization, and the profession, cannot go on as if nothing but a few misjudgments occurred.

    Another implicit revelation in the Mayer article is that, as long suspected, former CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard was apparently intimately involved with the creation of the torture program. If he was not closely involved, he could not state, true or not, that Dr. Matarazzo was not consulted about the interrogations. Of course, Hubbard’s claim that Matarazzo was not involved is almost impossible to believe since he was on the board of the CIA’s preferred torture consulting firm until the publicity after the release of the Office of Legal Counsel torture memos apparently caused the CIA to cancel the Mitchell Jessen & Associates contract that the Obama CIA had just renewed in February.

    ================

    By the way, I was really amazed and thrilled with the long & fertile dialogue over your World Exclusive…did you know that there was an article in Newsweek May 25, 2009 under SCOPE near front of magazine, p 14 entitled: Death in a Libyan Jail Cell. Please post or put this as comment also in earlier place if this later info may be helpful to those still following that train of discussion?

    It starts out: The Obama Administration is pressing the Libyan government to explain the reported prison death of a former CIA detainee – an incident that US officials fear could reopen questions about the agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program and further complicate the president’s plans to shut down the Gitmo Bay Detention center…

  2. Mohamed Maklouf says...

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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