“[T]his is a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy.”
Joe Burnham, Time Out
The first autumn screening of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington) takes place on the second anniversary of the film’s launch, at the University of Aberdeen, as part of a human rights film festival, from October 17 to 23, which also includes screenings of two films about Burma — “Burma VJ” and “This Prison Where I Live,” “The Green Wave” (about the Iranian elections in 2009, and the state’s brutal clampdown on the pro-democracy movement), and a film about Scottish Gypsy Travellers. See here for further details, and see below for specific details about the screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.”
In the last two years, there have been hundreds of screenings of the film during two UK tours, a US tour, and a Polish tour. The film has also had several film festival screenings, in the UK, the US and in Norway, and co-director Andy Worthington has made dozens of personal appearances to answer post-screening questions abut Guantánamo past, present and future. The most recent screening was a Parliamentary screening in June, hosted by hosted by Caroline Lucas MP, supported by Jeremy Corbyn and Peter Bottomley.
With the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo looming (on January 11, 2012), and 171 men still held with — literally — almost no prospect of release, as President Obama has failed to close the prison as promised, and his critics (and supporters of the prison’s continued existence) have taken the upper hand, reviving Dick Cheney’s successful and cynical message of fear, it is still of great importance that Guantánamo remains in people’s consciousness, and that those concerned with human rights continue to take action to secure its closure.
For British audiences, the film has added significance, as those still held include Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, whose story is featured in the film, along with those of released prisoners Omar Deghayes and Binyam Mohamed.
Despite being told that he had been approved for transfer in 2007, Shaker Aamer, who has a British wife and four British children, is still held, even though the British government claims to be doing all in its power to secure his return. Foreign secretary William Hague and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have both raised Aamer’s plight with members of the US administration in the last year, but to no avail.
However, as I have mentioned before, and continue to maintain, Britain’s heel-dragging on this issue is both inexplicable and unacceptable, as the British government negotiated a compensation deal for Shaker, as well as 15 former prisoners, last November, and which cannot, of course, be concluded in Shaker’s case while he remains in Guantánamo.
As I have also pointed out repeatedly, the inquiry into British complicity in torture abroad, which David Cameron announced last July, cannot proceed without Shaker’s presence, not only because he is a prime witness to some of the claims that the inquiry will have to address, but also because a Metropolitan Police inquiry into his claims that he was tortured in US custody in Afghanistan, prior to his transfer to Guantánamo, while British agents were present in the room, cannot, realistically, conclude without him, and, as the PM has acknowledged, the inquiry cannot begin while the Met’s investigations are ongoing.
It is also worth noting that, in April this year, in WikiLeaks’ release of classified military documents relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo throughout its long history (on which I worked as a media partner), the reasons for Shaker Aamer’s continued detention were revealed as the paranoid sham that they have always been. Because of his principled stand regarding the prisoners’ rights, and because of his fluency in English, his charisma and his influence, Shaker Aamer has persistently been regarded as a threat by the US authorities, even though most of the supposed evidence against him in his file consists of statements made by some of the most notoriously unreliable witnesses in Guantánamo and the CIA’s network of secret prisons.
Details of next week’s screening — which is free — are below, and more screenings will be announced soon. Also see the 2011 tour page here.
Friday October 21, 2011, 6 pm: Film screening – “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.”
Followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington.
Room NK1, New King’s Building, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, AB24 3FX.
This event is organized by the University of Aberdeen Amnesty International Society and the Amnesty Aberdeen group.
For further information, please contact Matthew James Biro, the President of the Amnesty student group. Also see the university group’s Facebook page, and Amnesty Aberdeen’s website.
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” looks at how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws after 9/11, and examines how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening, and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism. The film 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.
For further information about the film, for interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Polly Nash or Andy Worthington, and please see below for the first five minutes of the film:
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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Digging this, Andy.
Thanks, George. Anyone in the Aberdeen area is welcome, although I think Sweden doesn’t count as nearby! I hope to announce a new date in Brighton soon, and other dates are also being arranged.
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