On Thursday August 1, I’ll be taking part, via teleconferencing, in “The Grotesque Injustice of Guantánamo: An Insiders’ Account,” an event in Portland, Oregon organized by peace activist and Vietnam veteran S. Brian Willson and Laura Sandow, a US Navy veteran, who was serving at Guantánamo when George W. Bush’s “war on terror” prison opened in January 2002.
Brian was the commander of a security unit in Vietnam, and is a trained lawyer and criminologist. He recently participated in a hunger strike in Portland in solidarity with the Guantánamo hunger strikers, and is the author of Blood On The Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson (PM Press, 2011).
Laura first asked me to be involved back in June, when she and Brian had decided to put an event together, and her request coincided with the publication of her story in the online comic magazine Symbolia, in a powerful strip written by the journalist Sarah Mirk, based on an interview with Laura, and drawn by Lucy Bellwood. See this Think Progress article for excerpts from Laura’s story, and buy it here. As she explained to me in a recent email, “The more people that understand this atrocity [the prison at Guantánamo Bay], the more likely we are to prevent it from becoming an acceptable course of action for future policy decisions.”
The event is sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter 72, and takes place in the Buchan Room at the First Unitarian Church, 1226 SW Salmon Street, Portland, Oregon 97205, beginning at 7pm. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and there is a suggested sliding-scale donation of $5 to $20 for the event, although the organizers stress that no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Also appearing is Steven T. Wax, chief Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon, who oversaw a legal team representing a number of the prisoners in Guantánamo, including the Sudanese hospital administrator Adel Hamad, released in 2007. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a former law instructor at Lewis & Clark College, Steven is the author of Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror (Other Press, 2008), in which he discussed his Guantánamo work, and also the case of the Portland-based lawyer Brandon Mayfield, mistakenly seized in the post-9/11 hysteria, who he represented.
In addition, others speaking by video conference at the event are Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CodePink, who have long campaigned for the closure of Guantánamo, and John Hickman, associate professor of government at Berry College and the author of Selling Guantánamo: Exploding the Propaganda Surrounding America’s Most Notorious Military Prison (University Press of Florida, 2013). The event will be moderated by Sarah Mirk.
The event is co-sponsored by 18th Avenue Peace House, Alliance for Democracy, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, American Iranian Friendship Council, Anarchist Black Cross, Code Pink Portland, Economic Justice Action Group and Peace Action Group of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Education WithOut Borders, Freedom Socialist Party, Oregon Jericho, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Portland Books to Prisoners, Portland Central American Solidarity Committee/Hands Off Latin America, Portland National Lawyers Guild, Radical Prisoner Support Portland, Recruiter Watch PDX, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Portland Branch, and KBOO Community Radio 90.7 FM.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
This sounds very interesting. I am sure many of us not in the Portland area wish we could attend.
Thanks, arcticredriver. I also wish I was going to be in the Portland area, and not just on the end of a phone!
On Facebook, Pauline Kiernan wrote:
Thanks, Pauline. Got back from WOMAD yesterday, happy but exhausted, and now trying to adjust to the realities of life outside a festival site with the kids running free, great music and a tribal vibe from our posse that makes the world of bricks and mortar feel rather constricting. Updates tomorrow on Lewisham Hospital (following the result of the judicial review) and Bradley Manning. I’ll be on RT at some point …
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