Today Guantánamo Has Been Open For 6,175 Days, and on Jan. 1, 2019 It Will Have Been Open for 6,200 Days: Please Join Our Photo Campaign!

7.12.18

Nine photos from Close Guantanamo's 2018 photo campaign, with supporters holding up posters showing how long Guantanamo has been open, and urging Donald Trump to close it.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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

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.

Today December 7, 2018, the prison at Guantánamo Bay has been open for 6,175 days, or, to put it another way, 16 years, ten months and 26 days.

When it comes to thinking about how long that is, I recall that my son, who turns 19 in two weeks’ time, was just two years old when Guantánamo opened, and I try to imagine being held for all that time without any of the rights and protections that people deprived of their liberty in countries that claim to respect the rule of law normally take for granted — the right not to be held indefinitely without charge or trial, or, if seized in wartime, the right to be held unmolested until a definable end of hostilities.

At Guantánamo, the prisoners were fundamentally stripped of all their rights as human beings, and, despite various efforts to give them rights, that unacceptable position remains fundamentally true. As you read this, here and now, the only way anyone can get out of Guantánamo is at the whim of the president — and this particular president has no interest in releasing anyone at all.

To add to those fundamental rights that were stripped from the prisoners, many others — including the right not to be subjected to torture or other forms of abuse, the right to be allowed family visits, the right to undertake a hunger strike and not to be force-fed, and the right to engage in artistic endeavors — are also hallmarks of the dreadful lawless zone that is Guantánamo.

In the nearly seven years that the Close Guantánamo campaign has existed, we have tried numerous ways to highlight the plight of the men still held. We launched a Gitmo Clock in 2013, during a prison-wide hunger strike, showing how long it took for Barack Obama to resume releasing prisoners after he promised to do so, breaking a period of inactivity on his part, in which almost no one was released from the prison, because Congress had sought to impose restrictions on the release of prisoners.

We re-launched the Gitmo Clock during Obama’s last year left in office, when we also launched a photo project, ‘The Countdown to Close Guantánamo’, when our co-founder Andy Worthington appeared on Democracy Now! with music legend Roger Waters, urging people to take photos with posters showing how long Obama had left in office.

That campaign was quite successful, but since Donald Trump took office, it seems, his toxic presence has made people feel that resistance — at least as far as Guantánamo is concerned — is largely futile. We ran a photo campaign in his first year, ‘Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo’, and this year we revived the Gitmo Clock to show how long Guantánamo has been open, and have been urging people to take photos wth posters that we have made available every 25 days.

In general, however, we would have to admit that there has not been a huge response — with one notable exception: in June, when we marked 6,000 days of the prison’s existence, and dozens of people sent in photos. You can check out all the photos hereand the most recent photos here.

Nevertheless, we’d still like to urge you to get involved — by taking a photo with the 6,175 days poster and sending it to us — and/or by taking a photo with a poster marking the next big date: January 1, 2019, when the prison will have been open for 6,200 days.

If I may, I’d like to leave you with an anecdote explaining why I think it remains important to continue to make a stand about Guantánamo, and to try to let Donald Trump know why his ignorant and insulting enthusiasm for keeping the prison open, and for not releasing anyone — even though 40 men are still held, and only nine of them are facing trials — is so offensive.

During the Vietnam War, so I’m told, an individual stood every night outside the White House with a candle, calling for an end to the war. The individual did this night after night, and eventually a major news outlet sent a reporter down to talk to them. The reporter asked, “Why are you doing this? Surely you know your lone protest won’t change the president’s mind?,” to which the protestor replied, “I’m not doing it to change his mind, I’m doing it so he can’t change mine.”

* * * * *

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 2017 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. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Cross-posted from Close Guantanamo, here’s my latest article, pointing out that today the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been open for 6,175 days, and providing a few examples of quite how long that is, and why it remains imperative for Guantanamo to be closed. If you have a camera or phone to hand, please consider taking a photo and sending it to us right now, and if you can, please do send us a photo for January 1, 2019, just ten days before the 17th anniversary of the opening of the prison, when it will have been open for 6,200 days.
    Posters here: http://gtmoclock.com/posters/GTMO-Clock-6175.pdf
    http://gtmoclock.com/posters/GTMO-Clock-6200.pdf
    Please send to info@closeguantanamo.org

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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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