On Tuesday January 24, at 7 pm, there will be a special screening of the acclaimed documentary film “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington) at the European Parliament in Brussels. The screening will take place in the main European Parliament building, the Altiero Spinelli Building, Rue Wiertz, in Room ASP – 3G2, on the 3rd floor, and Moazzam Begg, former Guantánamo prisoner, and the director of the NGO Cageprisoners, will be joining Andy Worthington and Polly Nash for the screening, and for the Q&A session afterwards.
The screening has been arranged by Jean Lambert (UK Green MEP), with the support of Sarah Ludford (UK Liberal Democrat MEP) and Ana Gomes (Portuguese Socialist MEP), and the purpose of the screening is to raise awareness of the continued existence of Guantánamo, and its mockery of universal notions of fairness and justice, ten years after the prison opened, on January 11, 2002. Given President Obama’s very public failure to close the prison as promised, it is essential that other countries step forward to take cleared prisoners who cannot be safely repatriated, and one of the main purposes of the screening and the visit of Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington is to encourage EU countries to re-engage with the process of resettling prisoners that was so successful in 2009 and 2010.
The screening is free, but anyone who wishes to attend needs to contact Rachel Sheppard, the Parliamentary Assistant to Jean Lambert MEP. If those wishing to attend do not already have an access badge for the European Parliament, they need to provide their full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number or ID card and number and also specify the type of document (passport, ID card) so that access badges can be arranged. Without an access badge, those wishing to attend the screening will not be allowed.
Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington will be available to talk to the press along with Jean Lambert MP, Sarah Ludford MEP and Ana Gomes MEP. Moazzam and Andy will be available before the screening (between 4 pm and 6.30 pm) and afterwards (after 9 pm), and also on Wednesday morning, and, as mentioned above, they are hoping to have the opportunity discuss the need for European countries to revisit the generosity shown in 2009 and 2010, when many offered new homes to cleared Guantánamo prisoners who could not be safely repatriated.
171 prisoners are still held in Guantánamo, and 89 of these have been cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. 58 of these men are Yemenis, whose release is being prevented by President Obama, and by Congress, but others remain in need of new homes, and it is only the absence of offers from, for example, countries in Europe, that is preventing them from finally being freed.
As Guantánamo recently marked the 10th anniversary of its opening, with no sign of when, if ever it will close, given Congressional opposition, and the President’s refusal, or inability to assert his authority, it would be a powerful humanitarian gesture if European countries once more agreed to take cleared prisoners, to help to close this shameful icon of the Bush administration’s misguided “war on terror.”
Below are biographies:
Moazzam Begg is the director of the NGO Cageprisoners, and the author, with Victoria Brittain, of the book Enemy Combatant. He was held in US custody in Afghanistan and in Guantánamo from January 2002 until March 2005, when he was released without charge or trial.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, the author of The Guantánamo Files, and the co-director of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” He is well-known as a world authority on Guantánamo. His website is AndyWorthington.co.uk, and he is also on the steering committee of the newly launched campaigning website, “Close Guantánamo.”
Polly Nash is a senior lecturer at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, and the co-director of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.”
“‘Outside the Law’ is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten.”
Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
“[T]his is a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy.”
Joe Burnham, Time Out
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a 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, despite being cleared for release), 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.
For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Andy Worthington or Polly Nash, and see a trailer for the film below, via Journeyman Pictures, where, for a small fee, you can watch the film online:
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, Julia Hall wrote:
Don’t forget to remind them about their own responsibility to seek accountability re: their governments’ complicity in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programmes. Some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees were held in secret detention in European countries prior to being transferred to Guantanamo. Europe is deeply implicated in these mens’ disappearances, torture, and maybe permanent residency at Guantanamo Bay. Thanks, Andy.
Thanks, Julia, and how nice it was to see you in DC last week! You make some very valid points, although the reason I didn’t flag up the complicity in torture upfront is because I’m thinking carrot and stick, and would prefer — initially at least — to focus on asking countries to take in cleared prisoners who can’t be repatriated, rather than focusing on those countries’ crimes. Although, of course, in some cases a reminder of what took place might help in applying some moral leverage …
Lucia Sol wrote:
Ubaid Rehman wrote:
you doing great work my brother,,,may Allah(swt) give you and your team more strength against any problem in every situation,,,Ameen:)
Thanks, Lucia and Ubaid. Very good to hear from you.
Thanks Andy, amazing work!… thanks to you and all your team for this wonderful work you are doing to relieve the undeserved pain of those people.
Thanks again, Lucia. I was wishing I had a team as such, reading your comments and those of Ubaid, considering that I spend so much time working alone. However, I take your point, and I think it might be appropriate to regard everyone working towards closing Guantanamo that I’m involved with as a big team of very dedicated people.
Nice to know that some governments are willing to give forum and hear the issues…Good luck with the European Parliament
Thanks! I hope it goes well. European countries need to be reminded that they helped support Guantanamo and rendition and torture in Bush’s “war on terror,” and that some of the victims are still in Guantanamo, and in need of new homes.
Lucia Sol wrote (in response to 7):
Indeed. It is a tough job to do it alone, isn’t it?
Sometimes when I’ve spent too long on the computer it can feel that way, Lucia, but after my 12 days in America that’s far from the truth, as I was almost constantly surrounded by other people passionate about the cause, in New York City, in Washington D.C., in San Francisco and Chicago, which was very satisfying.
Ann Alexander wrote:
Bon voyage, Andy. Good luck. Even persuading one country would be a bonus, would it not?
It would indeed, Ann. Anything to break the deadlock. I hope this screening can be the start of some further engagement throughout the year.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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