“[T]his is a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy.”
Joe Burnham, Time Out
With the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay now in its 11th year of existence, and with no sign of when, if ever the prison will be closed, the need to campaign for its closure is greater than ever, even though the will to do so is largely drowned out by the voices of US lawmakers and pundits who would like it to stay open, and by a colossal indifference on the part of far too many citizens of the US, and others around the world.
This is deeply disturbing, as a prison in which people are subjected to arbitrary detention (as Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained three weeks ago) cannot simply be brushed aside or forgotten about by those who claim to care about legal and humane detention practices. As long ago as October 2003, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross complained about the damaging effects of open-ended arbitrary detention on the mental health of the prisoners held at Guantánamo, and that remains true eight years and four months later, even if most of the prisoners are now allowed time to socialize. Back in 2003, Girod said, “The open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem.”
Even so, they do not know when, if ever they will be released, they are not allowed family visits (unlike criminals convicted of the most heinous crimes and imprisoned on the US mainland), and some of them — like Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison — continue to be held in isolation, regarded as a threat by the US authorities because he has always stood up for the rights of his fellow prisoners.
A legal British resident of Saudi origin, Shaker Aamer has a British wife and four British children, and last week marked the 10th anniversary of his arrival at Guantánamo, even though he has been cleared for release by the US authorities since 2007, and even though the British government has also been requesting his return for the last five years. This is an intolerable situation, and in response his family and his lawyers in the UK have launched an e-petition on the UK government’s website, calling for the government to “undertake urgent new initiatives to achieve the immediate transfer of Shaker Aamer to the UK from continuing indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay.”
100,000 signatures are needed by May 14 for Shaker’s case to be debated in Parliament, and I am delighted to be playing an ongoing part in publicising Shaker’s ongoing plight — and this important petition — over the coming weeks, in three UK screenings — in London, and at the University of Hertfordshire. Please note that these screenings are free, and that the general public are welcome to attend, and please, if you can, sign the petition (which is for UK citizens and residents only, although children can sign, as well as adults), and also ask all your friends to sign. We need to send a clear message to the government that Shaker’s ongoing detention is thoroughly unacceptable.
Monday February 27, 6.30 pm: Film screening – “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” Followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington.
Queen Mary University of London, David Sizer Lecture Theatre, Francis Bancroft Building, Mile End Campus, London, E1 4NS.
This event is organised by the QMUL Amnesty International Society. Please note that, due to security issues, only members of QMUL can attend this screening.
For further information, please contact Emily Nash, and also see the Facebook page.
Thursday March 8, 5.30 pm: Film screening – “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” Followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington.
UCL, Ramsay Lecture Theatre, Christopher Ingold Building (Chemistry Dept), 20 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AJ
This event is organised by UCL Stop the War.
For further information, please contact Abiha Bhatti, and also see the Facebook page.
Tuesday March 13, 7 pm: Film screening – “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” Followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington.
University of Hertfordshire, Lecture Theatre N001, Ground Floor, N Block, de Havilland Campus, Hatfield, AL10 9EU.
This is the fourth annual Student Law Society/Amnesty International night, featuring the St. Albans Amnesty Group.
For further information, please contact Irene Austin of the St. Albans Amnesty Group, and also see the events page on the Amnesty International website. A map is here.
“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 please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
[…] SOURCE: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk […]
I really hope I get a chance to view your film on a big screen… I’ve been wanting to see it.
I hope you do too, Tashi!
Waris Ali wrote:
http://www.freeshaker.com also takes you directly to the epetition on the govts site. This is much easier to pass on through word of mouth and has a better chance of spreading over the internet. I would suggest you maybe put 4 links per page in big writing on an MS word document, print off a few dozen, cut them out and hand them out door to door in your street and maybe even have the local mosque make an announcement at friday prayers, and hand them out there too. Or if your at uni, it would be great if you could find the AMNESTY and the ISLAMIC SOCIETY groups that most unis have and ask them to sign the epetition and perhaps campaign on it, you could easily get a few hundred signatures this way.
Waris Ali wrote:
This wasnt directed at you Andy, just spreading some ideas for the people reading. Do you know if amnesty UK are planning to back this in any way? At the very least put the link up on there Facebook wall perhaps?
Thanks for the great suggestions. I’m hoping we’ll have some developments this week in mobilizing the publicity required. I’ll keep you posted, of course!
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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