On Saturday January 11, 2014, a coalition of groups involved in campaigns calling for the closure of Guantánamo — including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait, and my own group, the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which I co-founded and run with the attorney Tom Wilner — met outside the White House in Washington D.C., in the pouring rain, to tell President Obama to revisit his failed promise to close the prison, to continue releasing cleared prisoners as a matter of urgency, including the Yemenis who make up the majority of the 77 cleared prisoners still held, and to bring justice to the 78 other men still held, either by putting them on trial or releasing them.
These are my photos of the day, and as well as including some of the speakers outside the White House, the set also includes photos of the march from the White House along Constitution Avenue to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where, as I explained in an article for “Close Guantánamo,” featuring a 10-minute video of the day’s events by Ellen Davidson (including clips of me and Tom), which I’m also posting below, activists with Witness Against Torture staged a creative and powerful occupation of the museum, under the clever slogan, “Make Guantánamo History.”
As I also explained:
The occupation involved the unfurling of banners, and singing, in the main atrium, and also involved the creation of living tableaux of hooded protestors to contrast with fixed exhibits designed to illuminate other, more generally accepted aspects of American history. This was a very powerful event, and I thank the Witness Against Torture activists for undertaking it, and the museum authorities for not reacting in a heavy-handed manner, and allowing the educational intervention to last for several hours.
In that time, many museum visitors, I am sure, received an education about the realities of Guantánamo that they have not found elsewhere, as activists explained to them some of the many hard truths about the prison’s monstrous and unacceptable 12-year existence, at the start of its 13th year of operations.
I hope you enjoy the photos. I’ll be posting more soon, of the various other events I undertook as part of my 12-day tour, supported by World Can’t Wait, which also included events in New York, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pomona, to add to the videos of New York and Anaheim that I’ve posted here and here, and the radio shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles that I’ve posted here and here.
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, and “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.
On Facebook, Emine Dilek wrote:
Thanks, Emine. Good to hear from you.
Ann Alexander wrote:
Great photos of great people. Thanks for sharing Andy.
You’re welcome, Ann. Lovely to hear from you, and yes, I have an ever-growing family of great people in the US who I meet up with every year on my January visits. This year was no exception.
Willy Bach wrote:
Thanks Andy, these pictures must be on the public record. There were people who said no to this travesty.
Thanks, Willy. Yes, we were a small group this year, sadly, but as I was saying throughout my tour, although we might wish for and work towards the support of millions, when it comes down to it just one person protesting an injustice provides a reminder of that injustice, which might otherwise not be noticed at all.
Michael S. Kearns wrote:
There’s a Veterans for Peace flag! I wonder why World Can’t Wait doesn’t coordinate with VFP Chapters for events like the one at Berkeley and Stanford? I’d like to see your book promoted in their newspaper, The War Crime Times! Thoughts?
I don’t know, Michael, but if you have any inroads with VFP, then please mention me to them. Hope all is well with you. It was great to see you in California, although these visits are never long enough.
Sun Beams wrote:
Wow, those quotes from Shaker Aamer are deeply moving. This world is so strange and disturbing on so many levels.
Yes, Sun Beams, Shaker is an extremely eloquent commentator on the injustices to which he and the other men still in Guantanamo are subjected. In a less disturbed world, his comments would be on the front pages of newspapers and broadcast on the news until Guantanamo was closed. If you haven’t seen the 60 Minutes program in which he spoke from his cell, I do recommend it. It’s here, with my commentary: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/11/20/from-guantanamo-shaker-aamer-says-tell-the-world-the-truth-as-cbs-distorts-the-reality-of-life-at-gitmo/
So I feel compelled to provide an explanation of why I posted this so late – 2.30 am in London. It’s partly because I had to arrange for an upgrade to WordPress so that it would allow Flickr sets to be incorporated into WordPress posts, but it’s also because I’ve been absolutely shattered since arriving back in the UK from my two-week US tour on Tuesday morning, a quadruple whammy of exhaustion from 12 days of intense touring, jet lag, a severe bout of food poisoning that hit as soon as I got home, and, finally, the effects of my ongoing medication. I’ve been sleeping most of the last two days, and feeling rather depressed to be honest, but when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, and found that my WordPress account had been upgraded by the person who provides my technical support, I had to find out whether the upgrade worked, which, I’m glad to say, it did. I think my own normal service may soon be resumed!
Campaigning investigative journalist and commentator, author, filmmaker, photographer, singer-songwriter and Guantánamo expert
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