With the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo nearing the end of its third month (on Sunday), and even President Obama finally breaking his silence at a news conference on Tuesday — condemning the ongoing existence of the prison, but offering little in the way of solutions — I have been very busy with media appearances, as the mainstream media has woken up to the chronic injustice of Guantánamo in a convincing manner that — dare I say it — shows no sign of going away, as has the general public.
If you haven’t already signed it, please sign the petition calling for President Obama to close Guantánamo, which was launched this week by Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in protest at the Bush administration’s use of torture. In just a few days, the petition has already secured over 125,000 signatures, showing a depth of concern for the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo that has been imaginable for the last few years.
This is entirely appropriate, of course, as 166 men languish in Guantánamo, abandoned by all three branches of the US government — President Obama and his administration, Congress and the courts — including the 86 who were cleared for release at least three years ago by an inter-agency task force established the President Obama himself. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday — April 30 — was a big day for Guantánamo coverage, as the BBC decided to provide extensive coverage of the ongoing hunger strike, now on its 84th day — and the ethical problems regarding the force-feeding of mentally competent prisoners — across a number of TV and radio shows.
I was contacted a few days ago by BBC World News, and asked to appear on the lunchtime news with George Alagiah, and on Monday evening I also received a request to appear on Newsday, on the World Service, at 7am. That show is available here (for the next six days) and my brief interview took place in a segment that began about 12 and a half minutes into the 90-minute show.
I then received another call, from World have Your Say, also on the World Service, asking me to appear on that show as well, and after I rolled up at the BBC at 11.30, I was shuttled around from the World Service to the rather roomy sound stage occupied by BBC World News, where I had a few minutes’ chat with George Alagiah. I can’t find that interview anywhere online, but the World Have Your Say interview is available here, in which Aisha Maniar of the London Guantánamo Campaign was also a guest, and our segment begins 19 minutes into the 26-minute show. Read the rest of this entry »
On April 24, 2013, campaigners calling for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, held a demonstration outside Parliament following a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall from 9.30 to 11 am. Shaker, who has a British wife and four British children, is one of 86 prisoners cleared for release by an inter-agency task force established by President Obama in 2009 but still held, and, in recent weeks, his story has finally become prominent in the mainstream British media, as he is part of the prison-wide hunger strike that began on February 6, and there are fears for his life (see my recent reports here and here).
The Parliamentary debate followed a successful e-petition, calling on the British government to “undertake urgent new initiatives to achieve the immediate transfer of Shaker Aamer to the UK from continuing indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay,” which secured over 100,000 signatures, through the tireless work of numerous campaigners, making it eligible for a discussion in Parliament. Please note that an international petition for Shaker is still ongoing. Read the rest of this entry »
A Bright Morning on Chesil Beach in Dorset, a set on Flickr.
From April 9 to 12, 2013, I escaped London for a brief but thoroughly refreshing family holiday in Dorset, on England’s south coast, far enough away from London to escape the greed and pretension that is sadly so dominant in the capital.
In two previous sets, “A Rainy Easter: Chesil Beach in Dorset,” and “Fog, Prison and the Sea: The Isle of Portland at Night,” I posted photos from the first day of the holiday, as the weather veered from overcast to foggy. None of this mattered, as the house we were staying in — a converted former chapel and former fisherman’s store — was a wonderful, inspiring place, as the first few photos in this set hopefully show, and we were, in any case, staying somewhere that was enchanting whatever the weather. Read the rest of this entry »
The hunger strike in Guantánamo, which is now in its 74th day, continues to draw attention, although it is important that everyone who cares about it keeps publicizing the story — and keeps reminding the mainstream media to keep reporting it — or it will be lost in the hysteria emanating from the Boston bombings, which right-wingers, of course, are using to replenish their Islamophobia — one aim of which will be to shut down discussion of Guantánamo, in order to keep the prison open.
As my contribution to keeping the story alive, I’ve been publishing articles about the hunger strike on an almost daily basis, and have also been taking part in as many media appearances as possible. On Monday, after the military had clamped down on the hunger strike with violence last weekend, firing non-lethal rounds and moving the majority of the prisoners into solitary, I received several invitations to take part in TV and radio shows, but all but two fizzled out when the Boston bombing occurred. One of the two was a Canadian radio station, and the other was with Dennis Bernstein on Flashpoints, on KPFA in Berkeley, California.
My interview with Dennis is available here, just three weeks after our last discussion about Guantánamo, and I was pleased to be joined by Candace Gorman, the Chicago-based attorney who represents two Guantánamo prisoners — one still held, and the other freed in 2010 — and Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait. Both are friends, and between us, and with Dennis’s informed interest in the topic, I believe we thoroughly analyzed the dreadful situation that is still unfolding at Guantánamo, and pointed out the urgent necessity for President Obama to take action. Read the rest of this entry »
Fog, Prison and the Sea: The Isle of Portland at Night, a set on Flickr.
Last week, I was in Dorset for a four-day holiday with my family, staying in a rather magical, liminal place — Chiswell, a little village on the eastern end of Chesil Beach, on the Isle of Portland.
Chesil Beach is one of the great natural features of the UK, a shingle beach (technically a barrier beach), which is 18 miles long (29 km), 660 feet wide (200 m) and 50 feet (15 m) high, and staying there was a wonderful break from the frenetic, jangling polyrhythms of modern life, one in which the beach, the sea, the sky — and the changing weather patterns — were completely riveting, and pretty much all that was needed for a glimpse of the kind of stripped-down, old-school existence that those of us old enough to recall the pre-mobile, pre-computer age ought to remember, although many seem to have forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, I came to bury Margaret Thatcher, not to praise her. However, due to a hospital appointment, I missed the procession and only arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral after the funeral service, when the guests were leaving, although I was in time to take a few photos as reminders of the day when the woman was laid to rest who, during my lifetime, did more than any other individual to wreck the country that is my home.
My most fervent hope is that I will live to see Margaret Thatcher’s legacy overturned, and for a caring, inclusive society to replace the one based on greed, selfishness and cruelty that was her malignant gift to the people of Britain.
Since her death last week, I have largely avoided the sickening attempts by the Tories to use it for political gain, although I was absolutely delighted that their insistence on providing a lavish funeral at taxpayers’ expense backfired, because only 25 percent of the public thought that a state funeral was appropriate, and 60 percent opposed it. Read the rest of this entry »
A Rainy Easter: Chesil Beach in Dorset, a set on Flickr.
My apologies, to those of you who have been following my photographic projects, for the unexplained hiatus over the last few weeks. To explain briefly, I ran into two problems.
Firstly, I found myself rather overwhelmed by the number of photos I’ve taken of London since last July — over 10,000 in total, of which I’ve only managed to publish around 1,700 here. I decided that I needed to stand back from my project to record the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and to take stock of what I have achieved so far. As a result, I have begun organising my photos by area, with the intention of organising some exhibitions and also publishing some photos in various forms, which I’ll let you know about as soon as they materialise. Read the rest of this entry »
Since a hunger strike began at Guantánamo two months ago, I have been endeavoring to play my part to keep it in the public eye, because the news of the hunger strike has finally awakened significant interest in the prison, after many years in which almost the whole world had lost interest in the plight of the men still detained at Guantánamo, even though President Obama promised to close it, and then failed to do, and even though over half of the men still held — 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners — were cleared for release by an inter-agency task force established by the President himself, but are still held because of obstructions raised by both the President and Congress.
The hunger strike involves the majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo — around 130 in total — and they are on a hunger strike to protest about conditions at the prison, and the shameful truth of their indefinite detention. The authorities have been gradually acknowledging that the hunger strike exists, after initial denials, but they still only accept that around a quarter of the men are going without food and risking their lives to tell the world how unjustly they are being treated, rather then the three-quarters of the prison’s population that the prisoners themselves claim are involved.
Since news of the strike began, I have written articles here, here, here, here and here (via Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison), and I have also spoken about the hunger strike on RT and Press TV, on the radio with Dennis Bernstein, Peter B. Collins and Michael Slate, and in print in an interview for Revolution newspaper. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, Frank Harper, an activist with the campaigning group World Can’t Wait interviewed me by phone (via Skype) for Revolution newspaper. An edited version of the transcript of that interview has been published on Revolution‘s website, and is published in the latest issue of Revolution, cover date April 7.
Below, for readers who want a more detailed analysis of Guantánamo past and present — and, in particular, the prison-wide hunger strike that is about to enter its third month (and which I have written about here, here, here, here and here) — I’m reproducing the full text of the interview, in which I discussed the hunger strike and the reasons for it, as well as, more broadly, the failure of all three branches of the US government to bring anything resembling justice to the 166 prisoners who are still held — the Obama administration and Congress for blocking the release of 86 prisoners cleared for release by the President’s own inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, and the Supreme Court for failing to overturn the ideologically motivated decision by judges in the court of appeals, in Washington D.C., to gut habeas corpus of all meaning for the prisoners, who were granted habeas rights by the Supreme Court on two occasions under President Bush — in 2004 and 2008.
For almost two months now, prisoners at the US’s Guantánamo torture center have been on a hunger strike. Lawyers for some of the prisoners reported that the strike began because of “unprecedented searches and a new guard force.” In particular, prisoners were angry and anguished at the way the guards handled the prisoners’ Korans. Read the rest of this entry »
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