On Saturday February 6, 2010, Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, the directors of the new Guantánamo documentary, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” will attend a screening of the film at the Human Rights, Human Wrongs Film Festival, at the Parkteatret, Oslo, and will take part in a Q&A session afterwards.
This is the second year of the festival, organized by Human Rights House, Oslo and Oslo Dokumentarkino, and it takes place over five days, beginning on Wednesday February 3, with films from Burma, Kenya, Iceland and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and continuing on Thursday, with the first of four themed days, devoted to “Migration and Human Wrongs,” and featuring films about the plight of migrants seeking to reach Europe from Africa, and conditions in detention centres for asylum seekers. On Friday, “Worlds Without Witnesses” focuses on places where access is restricted, and includes films on Chechnya and Gaza.
On Saturday, when “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is being screened, the theme is “Impunity vs. Justice — The Challenge of Righting Wrongs,” and other films featured are “My Neighbour My Killer,” about Rwanda and the Gacaca courts, and “Enemies of the People,” a film by Ron Lemkin (who is also a guest at the festival), based on Thet Sambeth’s attempts to understand the mentality of the Khmer Rouge by meeting regularly with Pol Pot’s right-hand man.
On Sunday, the theme is “Big Business: Outside the Law?” which includes films about the oil business in Nigeria and Ecuador, and a closing debate with Arjan Hamburger, the Netherlands Ambassador for Human Rights, lawyer and human rights activist Maina Kiai, and Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor and activist, answering the questions, “Is the ‘international community’ doing anything effective in stopping human rights abuses? If not, why not? And how can it change?”
About the film
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a new documentary film, directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, telling the story of Guantánamo (and including sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons) with a particular focus on how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism (as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers, for example).
The film is based around interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes, who was released in December 2007), lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, Shakeel Begg, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (who is still held), Binyam Mohamed (who was released in February 2009) and Omar Deghayes — “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a Spectacle Production (74 minutes, 2009), and copies of the DVD are now available. As featured on Democracy Now!, ABC News and Truthout. See here for videos of the Q&A session (with Moazzam Begg, Omar Deghayes, Andy Worthington and Polly Nash) that followed the launch of the film in London on October 21, 2009.
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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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