“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” – Announcing the UK Tour

2.2.10

Outside the Law: Stories from GuantanamoThroughout 2010, former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files, will be touring the UK, showing the new Guantánamo documentary “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” and attending post-screening Q&A sessions. On some dates, Omar, who is now the legal director of the Guantánamo Justice Centre, and Andy, who co-directed the film, will be joined by former prisoner Moazzam Begg (the director of Cageprisoners) and Polly Nash, the film’s co-director, representing Spectacle, the production company, and, occasionally, other guests.

On Saturday February 6, Andy and Polly will be traveling to Oslo for a screening of the film at the Human Rights, Human Wrongs Festival. See here for further details.

The UK tour starts the week after. A dedicated page here, which contains further details, will be updated regularly, but these are the dates confirmed so far:

Tuesday February 16, 6.30 pm: Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2 (also see here).

Tuesday February 23: QMUL (Queen Mary, University of London), Mile End Campus, London, E1, venue tbc. The screening follows an afternoon seminar, “Closing Guantánamo: one year on,” organized by QMUL’s Centre for Global Security and Development.

Saturday February 27, 2 pm: NFT2 (National Film Theatre), South Bank, London (also see here). Organized by the BFI (British Film Institute).

Monday March 1, 6 pm: New Theatre, East Building, LSE (London School of Economics), London, WC2. Part of LSE Amnesty International Society’s Human Rights Week 2010.

Friday March 5, 7 pm: Headington Hill Hall, Headington Campus, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane, Oxford. Part of the annual Human Rights Film and Music Festival.

Tuesday March 9, 7.30 pm: Bradford Playhouse, 4-12 Chapel St, Little Germany, Bradford. Facilitated with the support of Bradford Amnesty International Group.

Tuesday March 16, 7 pm: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1.

Thursday March 18, 5 pm: University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF. Venue tbc.

Monday March 22: University of Dundee, Nethergate, Dundee. Venue tbc.

Tuesday March 23: University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Aberdeen. Venue tbc.

Tuesday April 27: University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester. Venue tbc. Part of the annual “Spring Festival: Art & Culture For Humanity,” organized by the Human Rights Centre and societies.

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 Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed 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.

Take action for Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer and two of his childrenThroughout the tour, Omar, Andy, Moazzam and Polly (and other speakers) will be focusing on the plight of Shaker Aamer, the only one of the film’s main subjects who is still held in Guantánamo, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and despite the British government asking for him to be returned to the UK in August 2007.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Shaker Aamer moved to the UK in 1994, and was a legal British resident at the time of his capture, after he had traveled to Afghanistan with Moazzam Begg (and their families) to establish a girls’ school and some well-digging projects. He has a British wife and four British children (although he has never seen his youngest child).

As the foremost advocate of the prisoners’ rights in Guantánamo, Shaker’s influence upset the US authorities to such an extent that those pressing for his return fear that the US government wants to return him to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth, where he will not be at liberty to tell his story, and recent revelations indicate that, despite claims that it has been doing all in its power to secure his release, the British government may also share this view.

In December 2009, it emerged in a court case in the UK that British agents witnessed his abuse while he was held in US custody in Afghanistan, and in January 2010, for Harper’s Magazine, law professor Scott Horton reported that he was tortured in Guantánamo on the same night, in June 2006, that three other men appear to have been killed by representatives of an unknown US agency, and that a cover-up then took place, which successfully passed the deaths off as suicides.

At the screenings, the speakers will discuss what steps we can all take to put pressure on the British government to demand the return of Shaker Aamer to the UK, to be reunited with his family. To get involved now, please visit this Amnesty International action page, to find details of how you can write to David Miliband and Gordon Brown, asking them to demand Shaker’s return. Please also visit this page for a video of Shaker’s daughter Johina handing in a letter to Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street on January 11, 2010.

Recent feedback

“The film was great — not because I was in it, but because it told the legal and human story of Guantánamo more clearly than anything I have seen.”
Tom Wilner, US attorney who represented the Guantánamo prisoners before the US Supreme Court

“The film was fantastic! It has the unique ability of humanizing those who were detained at Guantánamo like no other I have seen.”
Sari Gelzer, Truthout

“Engaging and moving, and personal. The first [film] to really take you through the lives of the men from their own eyes.”
Debra Sweet, The World Can’t Wait

“I am part of a community of folks from the US who attempted to visit the Guantánamo prison in December 2005, and ended up fasting for a number of days outside the gates. We went then, and we continue our work now, because we heard the cries for justice from within the prison walls. As we gathered tonight as a community, we watched “Outside the Law,” and by the end, we all sat silent, many with tears in our eyes and on our faces. I have so much I’d like to say, but for now I wanted to write a quick note to say how grateful we are that you are out, and that you are speaking out with such profound humanity. I am only sorry what we can do is so little, and that so many remain in the prison.”
Matt Daloisio, Witness Against Torture

For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Polly Nash or Andy Worthington. For inquiries about screenings, please also feel free to contact Maryam Hassan.

“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.

(‘DiggThis’)

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, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

3 Responses

  1. Bert says...

    Andy,
    Glad to see that your film is ‘on the road’ to a wider UK audience.

    Are there any more dates to be added? Any up in the North West?

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, hopefully, Bert. Where are you?

  3. Bert says...

    Lancashire – so Liverpool or Manchester would be handy !

    Liverpool’s News from Nowhere would probably be interested.

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