Shaker Aamer’s Universal Declaration of No Human Rights, Part of Vice’s Compelling New Feature on Guantánamo

An edited version of the banner for Vice's important feature on Guantanamo, "Behind the Bars: Guantanamo Bay," published on November 10, 2014. Congratulations to Vice, which describes itself as “an ever-expanding galaxy of immersive, investigative, uncomfortable, and occasionally uncouth journalism,” who have shown up the mainstream media by publishing a major feature on November 10, “Behind the Bars: Guantánamo Bay,” consisting of 18 articles published simultaneously, all of which are about Guantánamo — some by Guantánamo prisoners themselves, as made available by their lawyers (particularly at Reprieve, the legal action charity), others by former personnel at the prison, and others by journalists. “Behind the Bars” is a new series, with future features focusing on prisoners in the UK, Russia and beyond.

Following an introduction by Vice’s Global Editor, Alex Miller, there are five articles by three prisoners, as follows:

  • The Declaration of No Human Rights” (cross-posted below) and “Colonel John Bogdan Has No Nose” by Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, long cleared for release but still held. In the second of these articles, Shaker focuses on Guantánamo’s recently retired warden, who oversaw a period of particular turmoil at the prison; in particular, the prison-wide hunger strike last year that finally awakened widespread outrage domestically and internationally about the plight of the prisoners.
  • What Happens When I Try to Give My Guantánamo Guards Presents” and “An Obituary for My Friend, Adnan Abdul Latif” by Emad Hassan, a Yemeni, cleared for release in 2009 by President Obama’s high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, but still held, who as been on a hunger strike since 2007. Adnan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni who had serious mental health issues, was the last prisoner to die at Guantánamo, in September 2012, even though he too had long been cleared for release, so this tribute by Emad Hassan is particularly poignant.
  • My Road to Guantánamo” by Younous Chekkouri (aka Younus Chekhouri), a Moroccan prisoner, also cleared for release in 2009, who tells the story of his capture and explains why he cannot return to Morocco and is seeking a third country to offer him a new home. In February this year, Reprieve made available a love letter by Younus to his wife Abla.

Read the rest of this entry »

For My Guantánamo Work, I’ve Been Short-Listed for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism

I’m delighted to report that, in recognition of my work on Guantánamo and the “war on terror” over the last seven years (including being the lead writer on the sections of a report on secret detention for the United Nations in 2010 dealing with US secret detention since 9/11, and being a media partner of WikiLeaks for the release of classified military files from Guantánamo in 2011), I’ve been short-listed for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, dedicated to the memory of Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century.

The prize was established in 1999, and previous winners include Nick Davies, Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Dahr Jamail, Mohammed Omer, Ian Cobain, Julian Assange and Gareth Porter.

As noted by the Committee (James Fox, Jeremy Harding, Cynthia Kee, Alexander Matthews, Shirlee Matthews and John Pilger), the prize is “awarded to a journalist whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth, validated by powerful facts, that exposes establishment propaganda, or ‘official drivel’ as Martha Gellhorn called it.” Read the rest of this entry »

As Hackgate Resurfaces, John Pilger Criticizes Mainstream Media, Salutes Independent Investigative Journalists

I was recently alerted, by my good friend Ann Alexander, to a transcript of a speech given by the legendary investigative journalist John Pilger at the “Reclaim the Media” conference, organised by NUJ activists, which took place in central London on October 26 to discuss the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal that discredited Rupert Murdoch’s media empire over the summer, and led to the demise of the News of the World.

This is timely, of course, as the phone-hacking scandal has not gone away, and, in the last few days, in advance of another appearance by James Murdoch in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Thursday, News International launched a voluntary compensation scheme for victims of phone-hacking, the day after the Metropolitan police stated that the number of possible victims of News International’s phone-hacking had reached 5,795, which was nearly 2,000 more than the police estimated in July.

In October, the Guardian noted that News International was facing more than 60 new compensation claims, and it seems unlikely, therefore, that the scandal will go away, especially as it has now emerged that, for eight years, a private detective was paid by News International to follow celebrities (including Prince William), and also to follow lawyers (those working for Milly Dowler’s family, who were followed last year and this year) and politicians (including cabinet ministers, and Tom Watson MP, who has made it his mission to expose News International’s wrongdoing).

However, Ann alerted me to the article because she was thinking about me, in a very kind manner, and picked up on a section of Pilger’s speech in which he spoke about a Ministry of Defence document released by WikiLeaks, which stated that there were “three main threats to the ministry’s view of the world” — namely, “Russian spies, terrorists, and by far the greatest threat — independent investigative journalists,” and she was thinking about my investigative work, primarily in connection with Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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