Brighton at Night, in the Rain, a set on Flickr.
On January 29, 2013, I travelled to Brighton, one of my favourite places in England, for “Freedom from Torture,” an event about Guantánamo organised by the University of Sussex Amnesty International Society, featuring myself, my friend Omar Deghayes, a former Guantánamo prisoner, and Elspeth Van Veeren, a researcher and writer about Guantánamo in the university’s International Relations Department.
The event was filmed, and I’ll publicise it here as soon as it has been edited and is made available, but I can confirm that it was a powerful evening, very well attended, in which the 120 students and other members of the public who turned up were left in no doubt about the shameful history of Guantánamo, and the even more shameful truth that it is still open because of the failures of all three branches of the US government to deal appropriately with the wretched legacy of the Bush administration — primarily through cowardice and/or laziness on the part of President Obama, and opportunistic fearmongering and obstruction on the part of Congress and the D.C. Circuit Court (the court of appeals dealing with the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions), as well as indifference in the Supreme Court. For more on these issues, see my recent article, “Eleven Years of Guantánamo: End This Scandal Now!” and also see the videos of my speech outside the White House on January 11, and a panel discussion at the New America Foundation on the same day.
It was my first visit to Brighton for a while, and it was great not only to spend some time with Omar, and to meet some wonderful students in pursuit of truth and justice, but also to spend time with Jackie Chase and her family. Formerly a major player in the Save Omar campaign, which then, after Omar’s release in December 2007, moved on to become a campaign to free the last British residents in Guantánamo, Binyam Mohamed (freed in February 2009) and Shaker Aamer (who, disgracefully, is still held — please see and sign the petition here!), Jackie regularly used to get me down to Brighton to talk about Guantánamo, beginning around five years ago, and we instantly became friends on our first meeting.
Still thoroughly engaged in political campaigning, Jackie runs Under the Bridge Studios, beside Brighton station, which also houses Radio Free Brighton, a community radio station stuffed full of politics and music, which has just been recognised as being in the Top 30 online stations worldwide. Omar and I recorded a show on January 30, which is available here (and which I’ll be publicising separately in the very near future), but although strategising took up part of my time with Jackie, I was also nearly swept away by the permanent buzz at the studio as children were trooped in for music classes, endless successions of hirsute young men — and some young women — in a huge variety of bands rocked out in the rehearsal studios, and, throughout, Radio Fee Brighton continued broadcasting and having new shows recorded.
After the event at the University of Sussex, Omar drove me back to the studios, and I then went for a meal with Jackie and family, before staying the night with them, and, in the morning, cycling down the seafront for a brief and exhilarating tour of the British weather (from sun to storm and back, and with a rainbow thrown in for good measure) prior to my show with Omar. I’ll be posting the photos from my journey along the seafront very soon, but for now I hope you enjoy these glimpses of Brighton, and the University of Sussex, in the rain, on the day of the Amnesty International event that provided me with such a great opportunity to visit Brighton once more.
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, Christopher John Webster wrote:
great set Andy, all strong images… not a dud amongst them x
Well, you know, Chris, I try and keep it officially a dud-free zone! Glad you liked the photos. More to come …
Omar Deghayes wrote:
forgot to explain how luxurious and advanced my car was and the loss of glasses…..real scare …..ha ha Andy
Omar Deghayes wrote:
but very nice photo
Thanks, Omar. You will, perhaps, not mind me elaborating, to explain how part of your car had caught fire as a result of some sort of electrical fault, and had a weirdly part-melted dashboard and door, and how you had forgotten your glasses – which you told me as we sped down a major dual carriageway!
Great to see you, as ever, and see you soon.
Waris Ali wrote:
Sounds like it was an excellent event Andy, a fitting one for one such as yourself and Mr Deghayes.
Great event indeed, Waris, and another opportunity to spread the word about Shaker Aamer’s case.
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