Education activist Malala Yousafzai marks her 16th birthday today at the United Nations by giving her first high-level public appearance and statement on the importance of education and the power of nonviolence.
Malala became a public figure when she was shot by the Taliban while travelling to school last year in Pakistan — targeted because of her committed campaigning for the right of all girls to an education. Flown to the United Kingdom to recover, she is now back at school and continues to advocate for every child’s right to education.
In support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), on 12 July – declared as “Malala Day” — the President of the UN General Assembly and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education with the support of A World at School initiative are organizing the UN Youth Assembly, where more than 500 young leaders from around the world will convene to accelerate the goal of getting all children, especially girls, in school and learning by 2015.
Now that President Obama has ordered the detention camp shut down, we must begin the work of unpacking what led to the construction of such a camp, what we must do to bring justice to those who were treated illegally, and examine the long-term legacy of Guantanamo. Here’s an excerpt from Melia’s article:
San Juan, Puerto Rico — Army Pvt. Brandon Neely was scared when he took Guantanamo’s first shackled detainees off a bus. Told to expect vicious terrorists, he grabbed a trembling, elderly detainee and ground his face into the cement — the first of a range of humiliations he says he participated in and witnessed as the prison was opening for business.
Neely has now come forward in this final year of the detention
center’s existence, saying he wants to publicly air his feelings of guilt and shame about how some soldiers behaved as the military scrambled to handle the first alleged al-Qaida and Taliban members arriving at the isolated U.S. Navy base.
His account, one of the first by a former guard describing abuses at Guantanamo, describes a chaotic time when soldiers lacked clear rules for dealing with detainees who were denied many basic comforts. He says the circumstances changed quickly once monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived.