The Human Face of Indefinite Detention: Shaker Aamer, Guantánamo and the NDAA – Panel Discussion in New York, April 24

20.4.12

On Tuesday April 24, from 6:30 to 8:30pm, I will be beamed into Room 407a of the New School, at 66 West 12th Street, in New York City, for a panel discussion, “The Human Face of Indefinite Detention: Shaker Aamer, Guantánamo and the NDAA,” with some good friends of mine — Col. Morris Davis, the former Chief Prosecutor at Guantánamo, and Ramzi Kassem, one of the lawyers for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo. The moderator is Thenjiwe McHarris of Amnesty International USA, and the event will be introduced by another friend, Jeremy Varon, Associate Professor of History at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College, and a member of Witness Against Torture, and by Steve Latimer — also of Amnesty International USA.

Morris Davis and I meet every January in Washington D.C. for panel discussions at the New America Foundation on the anniversary of Guantánamo’s opening, and Ramzi recently made available to me the unclassified exchanges between himself and Shaker, and a statement that Shaker had written, which I used as the basis for two world exclusive articles, “They Want Me to be Harmed”: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Describes His Isolation and “I Affirm Our Right to Life”: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Explains His Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike.

The provisional running order has the event starting, after introductions, with a short clip from “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the documentary film I co-directed with Polly Nash, which deals with Shaker Aamer’s story, followed by Ramzi discussing Shaker’s case for 15 minutes, me discussing the history of Guantánamo and what’s happening there now for 15 minutes, and Col. Davis speaking about why Guantánamo and the abuses it symbolizes are human rights violations and must end — also for 15 minutes. Thenjiwe will then urge people to sign Amnesty’s Shaker Aamer petition — and also see the petition on the Care 2 Petition Site, and the UK e-petition to the British government — and this will be followed by a discussion.

Although I’m disappointed that I won’t actually be in New York, and will only be able to speak to the audience via Skype, I’m delighted to be taking part in the event, hosted by the New School History Department, and sponsored by Amnesty International NYC Local Group 280, Amnesty International New School Group and Witness Against Torture, as it deals with a number of hugely important issues.

One is the ongoing detention of 169 men at Guantánamo, even though 87 of them have been cleared for release, including Shaker. Prohibitions on releasing prisoners, introduced in Congress, have prevented any prisoner leaving for the last 15 months, and although yesterday two Uighurs were released to El Salvador, they are exceptions, as their release was ordered by a US judge in October 2008, before Congress began interfering.

Out of those who remain, Shaker Aamer continues to be an obvious candidate for release, using a waiver included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve. The NDAA, of course, is the source of another unsettling development — the intention, by Congress, to subject anyone allegedly associated with al-Qaeda to mandatory military custody, without charge or trial — which, it has been noted, might apply to Americans as much as it has to foreigners for the last ten years at Guantánamo.

This is a very slightly edited version of Amnesty International’s description of the event, and I hope to “see” some of you there.

Join this FREE panel discussion … to learn about what is happening in our names at the US detention facilities at Guantánamo in Cuba and Bagram in Afghanistan. People like former UK resident Shaker Aamer have been held without charge or trial for years, denied the basic human rights to due process and a fair trial. And the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act has further enshrined indefinite detention and unfair Guantánamo military commissions in US law. Aamer himself has been held for over 10 years, despite the UK government’s repeated request that he be released to his wife and children in London. The denial of fundamental human rights to some undermines the rights of us all. We’ll talk about what we citizens can do to help ensure that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried, or released — and that the US government changes course from human rights violations in the name of national security to security with human rights.

For more information, and to RSVP, please email: security@aiusa.org.

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.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    all the best with that, Andy x

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeannie Wells wrote:

    take care and warmest wishes for success all the way

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ruth and Jeannie. It would be nice to visit. New York is more pleasant in springtime than during my usual visits to mark the anniversary of Guantanamo opening in January, but hopefully the Skype connection will work well, and I’m sure there’ll be a good crowd.

  4. harpie says...

    Hi Andy-I have a lot of reading to catch up on here, but I think there’s a typo in the first word-isn’t the event on Tuesday, April 24? [It’s not Friday, April 20-today, right?]

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, thanks. I am unable to get days of the week right at the moment. It is indeed on Tuesday, four days from now.

  6. Paul Siemering says...

    wish i could be there Andy- should be a great event

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Paul. Hopefully it will be recorded. Good to hear from you, btw!

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Andy Worthington

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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