Archive for April, 2018

Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Discusses Prison Artwork with the BBC, While Lawyers for “High-Value Detainee” Demand His Right to Continue Making Art

Untitled (aka Crying eye) by Mohammed al-Ansi, who was released from Guantanamo to Oman in january 2017, just before President Obama left office (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

Last October, an exhibition opened in the President’s Gallery, in John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, that might have attracted little attention had the Pentagon not decided to make a big song and dance about it.

The exhibition, ‘Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantánamo Bay,’ featured artwork by eight former and current Guantánamo prisoners — four freed, and four still held — which was given by the prisoners to their lawyers and their families, and it was not until November that the Pentagon got upset, apparently because the promotional material for the exhibition provided an email address for anyone “interested in purchasing art from these artists.” The obvious conclusion should have been that “these artists” meant the released prisoners, who should be free to do what they want with their own artwork, but the Pentagon didn’t see it that way.

On November 15, as I explained in my first article about the controversy, a spokesman, Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson, said that “all Guantánamo detainee art is ‘property of the US government’ and ‘questions remain on where the money for the sales was going,’” while, at the prison itself, Navy Cmdr. Anne Leanos said in a statement that “transfers of detainee made artwork have been suspended pending a policy review.” Read the rest of this entry »

A New Media Milestone: 3,000 Articles Published (Including 2,200 on Guantánamo) Since I Began Writing Online as an Independent Journalist and Activist in 2007

Andy Worthington singing 'Song for Shaker Aamer' in Washington, D.C. in January 2016 (Photo: Justin Norman).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Dear friends, supporters, and any stray passers-by,

My most recent article, WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Salem Gherebi’s Letter Explaining Why He Voluntarily Returned to Libya from Senegal Despite the Danger in Doing So, was something of a milestone for me — my 3,000th article published here on my website since I first began publishing articles here, on an almost daily basis, nearly eleven years ago. 

Almost 2,200 of those articles have been about the prison at Guantánamo Bay and the men held there, the main focus of my work as a writer and a campaigner since the spring of 2006, when I began working on the manuscript for my book The Guantánamo Files, which I completed in May 2007, and which was published that September.

If you’ve been with me all that time — as some of you, perhaps, have been — you’ll know that I started publishing articles here after the fourth prisoner at Guantánamo died, a man named Abdul Rahman al-Amri, allegedly by committing suicide. After spending 14 months researching and writing about the prisoners, based on a forensic analysis of the many thousands of pages of information about them that the Pentagon had been obliged to release after they lost a Freedom of Information lawsuit, I think it’s fair to say that I knew more than anyone in the world about the prisoners at that point, but although I pitched a proposal to the Guardian, I was told that they’d pick up on the Associated Press’s wire, and so I published it myself, as I already had a website up and running (technically, a WordPress blog), and hoped people would notice. Read the rest of this entry »

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Salem Gherebi’s Letter Explaining Why He Voluntarily Returned to Libya from Senegal Despite the Danger in Doing So

Former Guantanamo prisoner Salem Gherebi, in a photo included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Two weeks ago, I published an article about the Senegalese government’s disgraceful intention to repatriate two Libyans released from Guantánamo and given humanitarian asylum in Senegal two years ago, and expressed my alarm that doing so was a fundamental betrayal of the terms of the agreement made by the US when the men’s resettlement took place, which was supposed to guarantee that they wouldn’t be sent back to Libya, because of the dangerous instability in their home country.

That initial article drew on reporting by the Intercept, and also on correspondence with the former prisoner Omar Deghayes, a British resident and Libyan national who knows both men, and who I got to know during the filming, and subsequent touring of the documentary film I co-directed, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,’ which was released in 2009. A week later the New York Times — and Omar Deghayes, again — confirmed that one of the two men, Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), had returned to Libya voluntarily, because he wanted to be reunited with his family, and because he hoped that his connections in the country would prevent him from coming to any harm. My update on the story is here.

Unfortunately, on his return, Salem Gherebi was imprisoned by a militia, Rada, that has a prison at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport, where human rights abuses have been widely reported. The British NGO CAGE subsequently reported that the other Libyan, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh), who didn’t want to be repatriated, had also been sent back to Libya, where he too was imprisoned at the airport. I provided an update about this yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Sad Confirmation that Second Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Resettled in Senegal Has Been Forcibly Returned to Libya, Where His Life Is At Risk

Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh) and Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), Libyans resettled in Senegal in April 2016, who have now been sent back to Libya, which is not safe for them, and where they have been imprisoned. The photos are from the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Two weeks ago, I reported the terrible news that two former Guantánamo prisoners, both Libyans, who had been given humanitarian asylum in Senegal two years ago, were about to be sent back to Libya by the Senegalese government. The two men, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh) and Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), had been approved for release by high-level US government review processes, but they had been resettled in Senegal because it was unsafe for them to be returned to Libya. In negotiations between the US State Department and the Senegalese government, the understanding was that their resettlement would not involve any efforts to repatriate them.

My initial information about the men’s dire situation came from the Intercept, and from discussions with the former prisoner Omar Deghayes, also Libyan, who I got to know well during the filming and touring of ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,’ the documentary film I co-directed with Polly Nash, which was released in 2009.

I continued to liaise with Omar Deghayes, and on April 5 the New York Times got involved, noting that Salem Gherebi had “apparently consented to repatriation,” and it would seem that he did so because he was desperate to be reunited with his wife and children, and was disappointed that they “had not been permitted to stay with him in Senegal,” and also believed he had connections that would protect him on his return. Read the rest of this entry »

A Devastating Condemnation of Guantánamo’s Military Commissions by Palestinian-American Journalist P. Leila Barghouty

An illustration by Hokyoung Kim for The Outline showing defense lawyers for Ammar al-Baluchi arriving at the home of Guantanamo's military commissions.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

Six years and three months since Tom Wilner and I launched the Close Guantánamo campaign, we are becalmed in horribly unjust waters, with Donald Trump resolute that no one should leave the prison under any circumstances, and, as a result, 41 men held in what must appear to be a never-ending limbo, even though five of them were approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, and another man, Ahmed al-Darbi, continues to be held despite being promised his release — to be re-imprisoned in Saudi Arabia — four years ago in a plea deal in his military commission trial.

Twenty-six other men are held indefinitely — and lawyers for some of them submitted a habeas corpus petition on their behalf on January 11, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison, on the basis that, as the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights explained, “[Donald] Trump’s proclamation against releasing anyone from Guantánamo, regardless of their circumstances, which has borne out for the first full year of the Trump presidency, is arbitrary and unlawful and amounts to ‘perpetual detention for detention’s sake.’”

The other men still held — nine in total — have been through the military commission process, or are facing trials, and this latter category of Guantánamo prisoner came under the spotlight recently in an article written for a new website, The Outline, by P. Leila Barghouty, a journalist and filmmaker based in New York City, whose work has appeared on Al Arabiya, National Geographic, Slate, CNN, Vice News and Netflix. Read the rest of this entry »

Concrete Soldiers UK: Crowdfunding Campaign Continues for New Film Opposing Destruction of Social Housing, New Screenings Announced for April to June

A promotional poster for 'Concrete Soldiers UK', designed by the Artful Dodger. The film, directed by Nikita Woolfe, was released in December 2017, and a crowdfunder was launched in March 2018 to take the film on the road.Please support the crowdfunding campaign here!

Last year, the most significant event in the UK, to my mind, was the entirely preventable inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower, a block of social housing in west London, killing over 70 people. Safety standards had been fatally eroded, in the search of easier profits, and the disaster put the spotlight firmly on central government, local government in Kensington and Chelsea, the management company responsible for the tower (and all of Kensington and Chelsea’s social housing), and the contractors involved in the refurbishment of the tower, all of whom had contributed to turning a safe block of social housing into a death trap.

In the wake of the disaster, I attended a powerful public meeting about the fire, called by ASH (Architects for Social Housing), tenacious defenders of social housing, where I met the filmmaker Nikita Woolfe, who filmed the event, and who was also making a documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the colossal but largely hidden threat to social housing that was also highlighted by the Grenfell disaster, which had shown how those living in social housing are regarded as second-class citizens by those who wield power in this country. 

Niki asked me to be the narrator of her film, and I was delighted to do so, as the film’s focus was of growing concern to me, as it examines the destruction — and the proposed destruction — of housing estates by councils shorn of funds by central government, who are entering into deals with private developers that involve the destruction of estates and their replacement with brand-new housing, pricing out existing tenants, and even offering such derisory amounts to leaseholders (those who bought their flats under Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ policy) that they too are unable to afford to stay in the area. It is, to be blunt, social cleansing, and its proponents are driving what will be an epidemic if it is not resisted, in which tens of thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of Londoners will be driven from their homes, and variations on it are taking place across the whole of the UK.

Compounding the injustice of this social cleansing, the councils refuse to consider options — like those put forward by ASH — for refurbishment plans that can be paid for via infill building (additional building on existing sites), all the while pretending that tenants and leaseholders will be welcomed back to the new developments that replace their homes, when all the evidence from ‘regeneration’ programmes to date suggests that this is a blatant lie. Councils also claim that the new developments will reduce council waiting lists, but that too is untrue.

The film focuses in particular on two developments in south London — the destruction of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, and the proposed destruction of Central Hill Estate in Lambeth, both, it should be noted run by Labour councils, who are actually at the forefront of enthusiastic estate destruction. It also touches on the proposed destruction of another estate in Lambeth, Cressingham Gardens, and the destruction of the Heygate Estate in Southwark, a key stage in what some campaigners are now describing as “the London Clearances”, where Southwark Council entered into a deal with the international property developer Lendlease that has wiped out almost all social housing on the site. The Heygate site has now been renamed Elephant Park, and between them Lendlease and the council have socially cleansed the Elephant and Castle of almost all of the thousands of people who used to live there. Despite all this, the film also carries a hopeful message, and its focus on a successful campaign to prevent the destruction of a sheltered housing development in Streatham is an inspiring example of successful resistance.

‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ was launched at the Cinema Museum in Kennington in December, arriving as London’s housing crisis continued to demand attention — in Haringey, for example, where grassroots campaigners fought a successful battle against the Labour council entering into a housing deal with Lendlease that would have led to the destruction of numerous estates.

We have since had a handful screenings, in Deptford, Hackney Wick and Walthamstow, and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable us to take it out on the road and to produce a campaigning booklet detailing the pros and cons of resistance as we learn them from engagement with our audiences.

The link for the crowdfunding campaign is below. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in putting on a screening, and please be aware that one of the best ways to support us is to put on a screening and to make a donation to the crowdfunding campaign.

And below are the screenings that are currently confirmed — all over London, in Hastings, and in Edinburgh and Glasgow (as well as a film festival in Canada). We hope to see you somewhere along the way!

April 2018

Saturday April 14, 2018, 6pm: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and Tania Charman
The Bridge Community Centre, 361 Priory Road, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3NW.

This screening is organised by Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, whose director, Tania Charman, attended the world premiere of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, London SE11 on December 8, 2017.
The Facebook page is here.

Sunday April 15, 2018, 2pm: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ and ‘SA61-Home’ followed by Q&A with Nikita Woolfe and Wendy Charlton
Lordship Hub, Lordship Rec, off Higham Road, Tottenham, London, N17 6NU.

‘The screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ is also accompanied by a screening of SA61-Home’, an interview with a resident of the nearby Broadwater Farm Estate by local artist Wendy Charlton.
The event page is here, and the Facebook page is here.

Saturday April 21, 2018, 7pm: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and narrator Andy Worthington
The Rotunda, Cressingham Gardens Estate, London SW2 2QG.

One of the estates featured in the film, Cressingham Gardens is at the forefront of the current resistance to estate destruction, as Lambeth Council vies with Southwark to be the most contemptuous of the needs of its social housing residents.
See a map here.

Sunday April 22, 2018, 4pm local time: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’
Cinematheque, 100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 1H3. Part of the Architecture + Design Film Festival (A+DFF), now in its sixth year.

See the website here.

Tuesday April 24, 2018, 6.30pm: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and narrator Andy Worthington
The Wash Houses, The Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University, 16 Goulston Street, London E1 7TP (entrance via Old Castle Street).

Presentation by the Cass Cities programme, co-directed by Jane Clossick and Mark Brierley, and the MA Architecture and Urbanism.
See the event page here, and book here via Eventbrite. As the event page states, “These issues are what MA Architecture and Urbanism students deal with in their activist projects. Come and join us for a taster of the problems London faces.”

Monday April 30, 2018, 7pm: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and narrator Andy Worthington. Part of the New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival.
Sanford Housing Co-Op, 4 Sanford Walk, New Cross, London SE14 6NB.

There will also be representatives of local campaigns — to save old Tidemill Garden and Reginald House in Deptford, and Achilles Street in New Cross. Both campaigns are part of ‘No Social Cleaning in Lewisham’ that Andy set up last November to support the campaigns to defend social housing in the borough of Lewisham.
The event page is here, and the Facebook page is here.
The day before, Sunday April 29, there will be a day of short films and live music in Old Tidemill Garden, and on Sunday May 13 there’s a ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ gig at the New Cross Inn, featuring The Four Fathers, the Commie Faggots, Ukadelix, Jazzman John, Asher Baker, The Wiz-RD and the Strawberry Thieves Socialist Choir.

May 2018

Friday May 18, details to follow: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and narrator Andy Worthington
The first date of a 3-day visit to Scotland by Niki and Andy.

Saturday May 19, 2pm-5pm, £5/£3: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe, narrator Andy Worthington and representatives of Living Rent
Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall Street, Glasgow G41 1BA.

Screening organised by Living Rent Glasgow, part of Living Rent, a tenants’ union for Scotland, which describes itself as “a democratic organisation run by and for tenants.” As they state, “We want homes for people, not for profit; to redress the power imbalance between landlords and tenants; and ensure that everyone has decent and affordable housing. We believe in the collective power of tenants to come together to fight for their rights, and use diverse tactics – including direct action when necessary – to achieve this.”
Before the screening, there will be a radical art workshop run by Glasgow Art Group (GAG), “who have been active in community organising around housing”, where participants can “work together to produce artwork that also serves as a radical proposal against the onslaught of gentrification.”
The Facebook page for the event is here.

June 2018

Sunday June 3, 5pm, £3: Screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ and ‘Memories of Ladywell Baths’ followed by Q&A with director Nikita Woolfe and narrator Andy Worthington. Part of the Brockley Max Festival.
Good Hope Cafe, 261 Lewisham High Street, London SE13 6AY.

The screening of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ is at 5.30pm, and will be preceded by a screening of ‘Memories of Ladywell Baths’, about the currently derelict baths nearby, which “come back to life in this new, specially commissioned film by local filmmaker, David Stock, in collaboration with Lewisham Buildings Preservation Trust. From dance parties to boxing rings, midnight swims and floods, not to mention a few ghostly tales, hear the stories of this iconic building from those who were there.”
See the Brockley Max website here.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

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 six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Update on Senegal’s Dire Determination to Send Back to Libya Two Former Guantánamo Prisoners Granted Humanitarian Asylum in 2016

Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh) and Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), Libyans resettled in Senegal in April 2016, who are now threatened with being sent back to Libya, which is not safe for them. The photos are from the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Last week, I published an article, Betrayal: Senegal Prepares to Send Two Former Guantánamo Prisoners Back to Libya, Where They Face Imprisonment, Torture and Even Execution, looking at the terrible news that two Libyan nationals were being threatened with deportation to Libya. The two men, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh) and Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), were given humanitarian asylum in Senegal two years ago, on the understanding, agreed with the US State Department, that it was permanent, and that they would not, under any circumstances, be returned to Libya, where the security situation was so fraught that it was not possible to guarantee their safety as former Guantánamo prisoners tainted, unfairly, with the stamp of terrorism.

When I published my article, the Senegalese government’s threat was to send the two men back to Libya on April 3, and there were hopes that criticism might stop the plans from going ahead. However, on April 4, the Guantánamo Justice Centre, set up by former prisoners, posted the following update: “Regarding the situation of Omar and Salem previously given refuge in Senegal, we regret to report that eye witnesses have said one of the Guantánamo survivors was transferred today to Tripoli Mitiga Airport.”

On April 5, the New York Times picked up the story. On the ground in Senegal, Dionne Searcey confirmed that Khalifa had “disappeared from his once-guarded apartment in Dakar that now appears abandoned.” The Times added that the Senegalese government had said that Khalifa, identified as Awad Khalifa, “was not being deported.” However, neighbors said Khalifa and Salem Ghereby “were taken away on Tuesday afternoon.” The Times also explained that, hours earlier, “they had told a New York Times reporter visiting the apartment” — Dionne Searcey, presumably — “that they had received handwritten notices that they would be sent to Libya.” Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: Perpetual Imprisonment at Guantánamo – Andy Worthington Interviewed by Linda Olson-Osterlund on Portland’s KBOO FM

A screenshot of Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2018.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Last week, I was delighted to talk to Linda Olson-Osterlund for the morning show, Political Perspectives, on KBOO FM, a community radio station in Portland, Oregon. Linda has been talking to me about Guantánamo for many years, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to her. 

The show is available hereand here as an MP3 — and I hope you have time to listen to it, and will share it if you find it useful. Unfortunately, KBOO had a new telephone system, which didn’t allow foreign calls, and so the first 12 minutes of the show feature some music by Bill Frissell, before Linda introduced me at 12:20, prior to our interview beginning at 15:00.

Linda and I spent the first ten minutes talking about the habeas corpus petition submitted by lawyers for eleven of the remaining 41 prisoners at Guantánamo on January 11, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison. As I explained in a recent article, the lawyers argued, as a press release by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights put it, that “[Donald] Trump’s proclamation against releasing anyone from Guantánamo, regardless of their circumstances, which has borne out for the first full year of the Trump presidency, is arbitrary and unlawful and amounts to ‘perpetual detention for detention’s sake.’” Read the rest of this entry »

Protest Music: Forthcoming Gigs by Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers, April to June 2018

The Four Fathers playing at a protest in Walthamstow against the proposed redevelopment of the town square (Photo: Emilie Makin).It’s been some time since I last posted about the activities of my band The Four Fathers, so here’s an update following our most recent appearances — at a protest against the proposed redevelopment of Walthamstow’s main square, on February 24, and as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival, with our friends the Commie Faggots, on March 16, a wonderful and very well attended protest music double bill.

Since I last wrote about the band, people have, we’re glad to note, continued to listen to us on Bandcamp (and we’ve even sold a few CDs!), and our video of ‘Grenfell’, the song I wrote after last June’s entirely preventable fire in west London, in which over 70 people died, has now had nearly 1,650 views on YouTube and Facebook.

We’re planning to record it soon, along with our anti-Brexit anthem, ‘I Want My Country Back (From the People Who Wanted Their Country Back)’, and we’ve also been working on new material — new songs about the history of the counter-culture, and about so-called “affordable” housing, and a positive anthem about solidarity and resistance — and some covers, with Aswad’s ‘Not Satisfied’ inching closer to a public outing. I was also recently interviewed for an article about protest music in Artefact Magazine, produced by students at London College of Communications, following up on another protest music interview, for the Icelandic website, Shouts! Read the rest of this entry »

Betrayal: Senegal Prepares to Send Two Former Guantánamo Prisoners Back to Libya, Where They Face Imprisonment, Torture and Even Execution

Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh) and Salem Gherebi (aka Ghereby), Libyans resettled in Senegal in April 2016, who are now threatened with being sent back to Libya, which is not safe for them. The photos are from the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Dreadful news from Senegal, where two former Guantánamo prisoners, both from Libya, have been told that their resettlement in the country in April 2016, which they had been led to believe was permanent, is to be brought to a sudden end tomorrow, with their unwilling — and potentially fatal — repatriation to Libya.

For the Intercept, Murtaza Hussain and Glenn Greenwald reported the story on Saturday night, focusing on the story of one of the men, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr (aka Omar Mohammed Khalifh), whose release in Senegal was “the by-product of a deal negotiated by his attorneys with the U.S. government.” His lawyer, Ramzi Kassem, a professor at CUNY School of Law in New York, told the Intercept that the agreement “expressly guaranteed that the Libyan would have the right to permanently settle in Senegal and rebuild his life there, rather than be returned to war-torn Libya.”

As the Intercept explained, “In addition to the deteriorating security situation in his home country, Khalifa’s status as a former Guantánamo detainee as well as his tribal background meant that being sent back to his country of origin would mean an almost certain death sentence.” Read the rest of this entry »

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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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