Martin's story: having spent three years without trial in American detention at Guantanamo Bay, Martin Mubanga, who holds dual Zambian-British nationality, wants to sue Britain for abandoning him.

Author:Orakwue, Stella
Position:Not in Black or White

This is Martin's story. Who is Martin? Martin is an African who lives in England. He is a foreigner with access to a British passport. Actually, I tell a lie. This is a story about two Martins. One is white, one is black. One should have been protecting the other because that was his job. That was what he collected a salary, once a month, to do. But instead, he handed over his namesake.


Black Martin is called Martin Mubanga. He's from Zambia. He was born there on 24 September 1972. When his father died, Martin's mother brought her children, two boys, two girls, to London. Martin was a three-year-old toddler. He was 15 when his mother died from malaria. That's when Martin dropped out of school and started getting into trouble with the police.

A young black Londoner (north), a boy, in trouble with the police? Tell me something new. He tried to steal a car. They put him away in Feltham Young Offenders Institution. 'Institution' for learning what? Instead of learning how to commit suicide or how to get beaten by known racists, Martin decided to learn all about Islam. He was 19. Conversion was tough--Martin loved nightclubs and parties, girls and football. He was an Arsenal supporter who worked as a motorcycle courier who was trying to find out what the hell he was going to do with his life.

In 1995, Martin Mubanga journeyed to the Balkans, to Bosnia, where he stayed for six months to help a charity looking after Muslim victims of the war with the Serbs.

Five years later, in October 2000, Martin travelled from England to Pakistan. Why did he do that? He said he wanted to learn more about Islam. But then Martin made one of those seemingly nothing-type decisions about where to go next when you're already abroad and you're not trapped in a corset-like itinerary. He decided to cross the border into Afghanistan and spent time at schools in Kabul and Kandahar.

It's now late September 2001. Martin had left England in October 2000, remember, and although Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was considered at that time to be the pits by Western governments, they didn't have plans to kill and torture in the general vicinity. But things had changed.

Martin couldn't get back to England. His return ticket was for 26 September 2001 from Karachi. But after 11 September 2001 the buses had stopped running to Pakistan from Afghanistan. When the bombs came, Martin took shelter in Kandahar. It's always one thing after another, isn't it? Because then...

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