On Tuesday January 29, 2013, I will be in Brighton — and, specifically, the University of Sussex, in Falmer — for an event organised by the Sussex University Amnesty International Society entitled, “Freedom from Torture: Guantánamo Bay Panel Event with former detainee and leading world expert.” The event, which is free, begins at 6pm, and finishes at 8pm, and is taking place in Arts A1 (no. 22 on the map here).
This is the first event I’ve taken part in since my trip to the US, from January 7 to 16, to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 11th anniversary of its opening, and I’m delighted to be bringing news of my visit to the enthusiastic students of Sussex University, in the company of my friend, the former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, who I last shared a platform with at a peace conference in Sheffield in October, and also with Elspeth Van Veeren, a researcher and writer on Guantánamo Bay from Sussex University’s International Relations Department.
The Facebook page for the event is here, and I’m looking forward not only to a great event in the evening, but also to catching up with my friend Jackie Chase in the afternoon, and recording an interview for Radio Free Brighton, the community radio station based in Under the Bridge Studios, below the station. I’m also looking forward to staying the night, hanging out with Jackie and hopefully getting to cycle around Brighton a bit before returning on Wednesday afternoon.
There is much to discuss, of course, even though the news is not rosy, as 166 men languish at Guantánamo, largely forgotten by the media and the public, even though 86 have been cleared for release, and the others were either officially designated for indefinite detention by Barack Obama, which is a disgrace, or were recommended for trials that may never happen.
However, we must take comfort — and inspiration for renewed campaigning — from the fast that it is now Barack Obama’s second and final term as President, and he must therefore be conscious that he failed to close Guantánamo as he promised four years ago, and now faces being remembered as the President who failed to deliver on his promise, and left 166 men to rot in a prison that remains an abomination, however much living conditions may have improved for the majority of those still held. They still have no right to see their families, even if their relatives could get out to Guantánamo, and they still have no idea about when, if ever they will be released, which, lest we forget, is a form of mental torture peculiar to the “war on terror” — both at Guantánamo and at Bagram (renamed Parwan) in Afghanistan.
I will be talking about these topics, and more — including the plight of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison — on Tuesday, and I look forward to seeing you if you’re anywhere in the general Sussex area and fancy a lively discussion on the gulag inherited by President Obama, which, despite his promise of “hope and change,” he has shown so little will to close.
Note: Please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for the return of Shaker Aamer, which needs 100,000 signatures by April, and currently has over 22,000 signatures (and 5,000 more still to be submitted via paper petitions). This is for UK citizens and residents only, although anyone anywhere in the world, including UK citizens and residents, can sign the international petition to both the US and UK government on the Care 2 Petition Site.
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, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “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.
On Facebook, Waris Ali wrote:
Excellent, please do mention the save shaker page to them as well, the info is on the flyers as well > https://www.facebook.com/saveshaker
Bradford amnesty have already sent you a message about coming to their university, for their film screening “Taxi to the Dark Side” They’ll be trying to get Moazzam to come too
Thanks, Waris. Yes, I have heard from Bradford Amnesty, and am just about to write back.
Dejanka Bryant wrote:
Good luck, Andy.
Rita Pal wrote:
Thanks, Rita. It will be a good opportunity to fire up some very motivated students – as well as catching up with old friends!
Radmila Nastic wrote:
Have a nice time.
Thank you, Radmila. I believe I will!
Willy Bach wrote:
Good to see that you are still on the case, Andy, hope it goes well at University of Sussex.
Thanks, Willy. Good to hear from you. Yes, my interest in the Guantanamo prisoners – and the terrible precedent for imprisonment without charge or trial that Guantanamo still represents – is undimmed, even though the Obama administration has been hoping everyone would “look forwards and not back.” I hope that the new initiatives for Obama’s second term, which I was discussing with various parties on my recent US trip, will come to fruition this year.
Here are the articles, photos and videos from my US trip: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/category/andy-worthingtons-us-tour-january-2013/
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