Andy Worthington: An Archive of Guantánamo Articles and Other Writing – Part 19, July to December 2015

Andy Worthington with Shaker Aamer, after his release from Guantanamo, at a meeting in the House of Commons in November 2015.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2800 (£2100) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo for the next three months.

This article is the 19th in an ongoing series of articles listing all my work in chronological order. It’s a project I began in January 2010, when I put together the first chronological lists of all my articles, in the hope that doing so would make it as easy as possible for readers and researchers to navigate my work — the 2,690 articles I have published since I began publishing articles here in May 2007, which, otherwise, are not available in chronological order in any readily accessible form.

It is also a project for which I receive no funding, so, if you appreciate what I do as a reader-funded journalist and activist, please consider making a donation via the Paypal ‘Donate’ button above. Any amount, however large or small, will be very gratefully received.

I first began researching the Bush administration’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo, and the 779 men (and boys) held there almost exactly 11 years ago, in September 2005, and I began researching and writing about the prison and the prisoners on a full-time basis ten and a half years ago, in March 2006, when the Pentagon lost a FOIA lawsuit and was obliged to release 8,000 pages of documents relating to the prisoners, and which, I was surprised to learn, I was the only person in the world to analyze in depth. Initially, I spent 14 months researching and writing my book The Guantánamo Files, based on those documents, and, since May 2007, I have continued to write about the men held there, at first on a daily basis, and for the last few years every couple of days, as an independent investigative journalist, commentator and activist — for two and a half years under President Bush, and, shockingly, for what is now nearly eight years under President Obama.

As I note every time I put together a chronological list of my articles, my mission, as it has been since my research first revealed the scale of the injustice at Guantánamo, continues to revolve around four main aims — to humanize the prisoners by telling their stories; to expose the many lies told about them to supposedly justify their detention; to push for the prison’s closure and the absolute repudiation of indefinite detention without charge or trial as US policy; and to call for those who initiated, implemented and supported indefinite detention and torture to be held accountable for their actions.

The period covered by this 19th list, from July to December 2015, was not a particularly good period for the release of prisoners, as only non even were freed, but one in particular dominated my work throughout this period — Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. The six-month period covered here began with an open letter to President Obama that was signed by over 90 celebrities and MPs including Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Ralph Fiennes, Russell Brand, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Richard E. Grant, Mark Rylance, Juliet Stevenson, David Morrissey, Frankie Boyle, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Michael Brearley, Boris Johnson (then the Mayor of London before his Brexit disgrace), two former Attorney Generals, Keir Starmer and Dominic Grieve, and the six MPs who led the cross-party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group: the co-chairs, John McDonnell (Lab.) and David Davis (Con.), and the four officers of the group: Andrew Mitchell (Con.), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab.), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Andy Slaughter (Lab.). At the time, of course, Jeremy Corbyn was not the beleaguered leader of the Labour Party, just what he had always been — like John McDonnell, one of Britain’s most hardworking MPs devoted to addressing all manner of injustices.

In September came the great news that Shaker was to be released, but then, following the revelation that he had embarked on a hunger strike, fearing that he wouldn’t be freed, Joanne McInnes and I, who headed the We Stand With Shaker campaign that was behind the open letter, launched another initiative, the Fast for Shaker, that maintained the pressure on the US and UK governments to secure his release.

In this period, I also covered the Periodic Review Boards that continued to assess the cases of men not already approved for release, and not facing trials, and, when time allowed, I also covered other aspects of British politics, as well as promoting the music of my band The Four Fathers, whose first album was released in July.

July 2015

1. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Guantánamo Hunger Striker for Ten Years, Is Approved for Release to Saudi Arabia
2. Shaker Aamer: Over 90 Celebrities and MPs Sign Open Letter to President Obama Calling for Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo on US Independence Day
3. Guantánamo campaigns: Write to the Guantánamo Prisoners, Don’t Let Them Be Forgotten
4. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: US Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Force-Feeding Tapes, Condemns Government Delays
5. Guantánamo, military commissions, US courts: Despite His Conviction Being Quashed Three Times, Guantánamo Prisoner Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul Remains in Solitary Confinement
6. Torture: Report Damns American Psychological Association for Collusion in US Torture Program
7. Shaker Aamer: Please Ask Your MP to Join the Shaker Aamer All-Party Parliamentary Group, Working to Secure Shaker’s Release from Guantánamo
8. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: 16th Guantánamo Prisoner Seeks Release Via Periodic Review Board

August 2015

9. Closing Guantánamo: Does President Obama Still Have a Plan for Closing Guantánamo?
Guantanamo hunger striker Tariq Ba Odah, photographed at Guantanamo before the long-term effects of his eight-year hunger strike took hold, which led to him ending up weighing just 74.5 pounds.10. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: Tariq Ba Odah, Hunger Strikes, and Why the Obama Administration Must Stop Challenging Guantánamo Prisoners in Court
11. Guantánamo, US courts: War Is Over, Set Us Free, Say Guantánamo Prisoners; Judge Says No
12. Shaker Aamer: Ignoring President Obama, the Pentagon Blocks Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
13. Guantánamo, hunger strikes: Disgraceful US Justice Department Secretly Blocks Release from Guantánamo of Gravely Ill Hunger Striker Tariq Ba Odah
14. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo, and a Saudi Prisoner Ask Review Boards to Send Them Home
15. UK anti-terror laws: The Shocking Story of Y: Imprisoned in the UK Without Charge or Trial on the Basis of Secret Evidence Since 2003
16. Guantánamo: Yemeni Prisoner Zaher Hamdoun Says He Is “Buried in a Grave Called Guantánamo”
17. New Orleans floods: Watch Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke” for the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, When US Racism Was Openly Revealed

September 2015

18. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Mohammed Kamin, an Insignificant Afghan Prisoner in Guantánamo, Asks Review Board to Recommend His Release
19. Solitary confinement: Huge Victory for Prison Reform as California Ends Indeterminate Long-Term Solitary Confinement
20. Life after Guantánamo: Life After Guantánamo: Attorney Tells the Story of a Father and Son Freed, But Separated By 1,850 Miles
Former Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr speaking to the media after his release from prison on bail on May 7, 2015. Photo made available by Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star on Twitter.21. Omar Khadr: Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr Asks for Bail Conditions to be Eased So He Can Visit His Family
22. Shaker Aamer: Labour Frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn Joins Cross-Party Signatories on Early Day Motion Calling for Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
23. 9/11, Guantánamo: 14 Years After 9/11, It’s Time for Guantánamo to Be Closed
24. Shaker Aamer: “The More We Get Close to What We Want, The Farther It Goes”: Shaker Aamer’s Endlessly Thwarted Hope of Being Released from Guantánamo
25. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Seriously Ill Libyan Approved for Release from Guantánamo by Periodic Review Board
26. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Fears for Guantánamo Prisoner Released in Morocco But Held Incommunicado in a Secret Location
27. Omar Khadr: On Omar Khadr’s 29th Birthday, Bail Conditions Eased; Allowed to Visit Grandparents, and Electronic Tag Removed
28. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Periodic Review Board Approves Release of Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo
29. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ as Download: 25% of Takings to Go to Shaker’s Family
30. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: On RT, Andy Worthington Discusses Release of ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ and the Failure to Free Him from Guantánamo
31. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Long-Term Hunger Striker, Repatriated from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia
32. Shaker Aamer: Wonderful News! Shaker Aamer to be Released from Guantánamo – Finally!
33. Torture: 28 Veterans of US Intelligence Fight Back Against CIA Claims That the Bush Torture Program Was Useful and Necessary
34. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Launch YouTube Channel, Play ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ Unplugged
35. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses the Imminent Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo with Scott Horton
36. Protest music, Guantánamo: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Love and War’ Album for Download, With Songs About Guantánamo, Torture, Austerity and Love
37. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: 97-Pound Yemeni Hunger Striker Appears Before Periodic Review Board As Saudi is Approved for Release from Guantánamo

October 2015

38. Shaker Aamer: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Truth, Lies and Distortions in the Coverage of Shaker Aamer, Soon to be Freed from Guantánamo
39. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s Latest Words from Guantánamo; On a Hunger Strike, Fearful That He Won’t See His Family Again
40. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer, the Closure of Guantánamo and His Band The Four Fathers with Peter B. Collins
Younous Chekkouri (aka Younus Chekhouri), in a photo included in the classified US military documents (the Detainee Assessment Briefs) released by WikiLeaks in April 2011.41. Life after Guantánamo: Former Guantánamo Prisoner Betrayed by Morocco: Are Diplomatic Assurances Worthless?
42. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Fan of Shakira, Taylor Swift and Game of Thrones Asks Review Board to Free Him from Guantánamo, As an Afghan is Approved for Release
43. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker: New Campaign Launched – Please Join Celebrities and MPs Fasting in Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo
44. Guantánamo media: How Laurie Anderson Brought Guantánamo to New York
45. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer, Guantánamo and Fast For Shaker on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2
46. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker: Press Launch of New Campaign in Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo, London, Thursday 15th October
47. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses the Fast For Shaker Campaign on London Live
48. Shaker Aamer: Photos: Fast For Shaker Press Launch – MPs and Campaigners Show Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo
49. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Speaks to RT at the Launch of Fast For Shaker in London on October 15
50. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker Supporters Encourage Shaker Aamer to End Hunger Strike, Maintain Pressure to Get Him Home By October 25
51. Torture, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “81 Million Dollars” About the US Torture Program, Calling for Bush, Cheney and Others to be Held Accountable
52. Shaker Aamer: Five Days to Go: The Countdown to Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
53. Life after Guantánamo: Guantánamo’s Tainted Evidence: US Government Publicly Concedes Its Case Against Ex-Prisoner Facing Trial in Morocco Collapsed in 2011
54. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Speaks to Anastasia Kyriacou About Guantánamo, We Stand With Shaker and Fast For Shaker
55. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: Obama’s Mixed Messages on Guantánamo, as Justice Department Tells Judge Not to Intervene in Case of 75-Pound Hunger Striker at Risk of Death
56. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s 5000th Day in Guantánamo – and My 2500th Post
57. Shaker Aamer: Clive Stafford Smith’s Fast For Shaker Aamer Hunger Strike Diary
58. Shaker Aamer: Photos: Shaker Aamer’s 5000th Day in Guantánamo – Vigil Outside 10 Downing Street, October 24, 2015
59. Shaker Aamer: Keep Up the Fast For Shaker Aamer, As Foreign Office and State Department Say Release Delayed Until Late This Week or Early Next Week
60. Guantánamo, President Obama, US Senate: Finally, President Obama Vetoes Defense Bill That Contains Onerous Guantánamo Restrictions
61. Shaker Aamer, prisoners released from Guantánamo: Shaker Aamer Finally Freed from Guantánamo: We Stand With Shaker Responds to the News
62. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s Statement on His Release from Guantánamo

November 2015

Music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) supports We Stand With Shaker at the US Embassy on February 13, 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).63. Shaker Aamer: WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Roger Waters Writes About the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
64. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer, Freed from Guantánamo, Is Reunited With His Family
65. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play New Version of ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ Reflecting His Release from Guantánamo
66. Shaker Aamer: Andy Worthington’s TV and Radio Appearances Following the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
67. Shaker Aamer, protest music: ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ by Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers is ‘Protest Song of the Week’ on Kevin Gosztola’s Shadowproof
68. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Mauritanian, Cleared for Release Since 2009, Finally Repatriated from Guantánamo
69. Life after Guantánamo: Moroccan Released from Guantánamo Facing Kangaroo Court Trial Back Home As Wife Says She Is “Still Living a Nightmare”
70. Shaker Aamer: Responses to Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo – from MPs, and a Poignant and Powerful Article by Cori Crider of Reprieve
71. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Eroding Hyperbole: The Steady Reclassification of Guantánamo’s “Forever Prisoners”
72. Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Errachidi: Chef Held at Guantánamo Calls Shaker Aamer a “Beautiful, Great Man” But Warns of Difficulties Adapting to Freedom
73. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo with Richie Allen
74. Shaker Aamer: First Photos Published of Shaker Aamer Since His Release from Guantánamo
75. Shaker Aamer: A Photo and a Message from Shaker Aamer to His Supporters
76. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer’s Release and the Future of Guantánamo with Scott Horton and Peter B. Collins
77. Protest music: Podcast: Andy Worthington of The Four Fathers Interviewed About Protest Music By Kevin Gosztola of Shadowproof
78. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Five Yemenis Freed from Guantánamo, Given New Homes in the United Arab Emirates
79. Closing Guantánamo: Playing Politics with the Closure of Guantánamo
80. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait Discuss Shaker Aamer and Closing Guantánamo with Cat Watters
81. Shaker Aamer: We Stand With Shaker’s 1st Anniversary, 100 Celebrity Photos and a Vigil on Thursday
82. Pacifism: Please Listen to Benjamin Ferencz, the Last Nuremberg Prosecutor, Explain His Implacable Opposition to War

December 2015

83. Guantánamo media: A Hunger for Justice at Guantánamo as Witness Against Torture Video of Thanksgiving Fast Gets 900,000 Views
84. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Presenting the First Annotated List of the 64 Guantánamo Prisoners Eligible for Periodic Review Boards
Former Guantanamo prisoner Haji Ghalib, photographed after his release from Guantanamo in February 2007.85. Life after Guantánamo: Haji Ghalib, the Afghan Freed from Guantánamo Who Is Now Fighting Isis and the Taliban
86. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: For Review at Guantánamo, DoD Acknowledges That 20th “Forever Prisoner” Is Case of Mistaken Identity, As He Seeks Release
87. Shaker Aamer, protest music: In London, Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer and Guantánamo, and His Band The Four Fathers Play Three Gigs
88. Human Rights Day: On Human Rights Day, A Call for the US to Close Guantánamo, and for the UK to Defend the Human Rights Act
89. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer Speaks: First Newspaper Interview Since Release from Guantánamo, in the Mail on Sunday
90. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer Discusses His 13 Years in Guantánamo, Built to “Destroy Human Beings,” and Adjusting to Freedom Since His Release
91. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Zahir Hamdoun, the 21st Guantánamo Prisoner Seeking Release Via A Periodic Review Board
92. Shaker Aamer: Video: After Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer’s 90-Minute BBC Interview with Victoria Derbyshire
93. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes Discuss the Success of We Stand With Shaker on George Galloway’s Sputnik Show on RT
94. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer and We Stand With Shaker at Deptford Cinema, Dec. 18, 2015
95. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “Song For Shaker Aamer” at Deptford Cinema, Dec. 18, 2015
96. Closing Guantánamo: President Obama on Closing Guantánamo

An archive of articles about British politics, July to December 2015

Andy Worthington holding up a copy of 'Love and War' by The Four Fathers, after collecting the first copies from the manufacturers on July 3, 2015.1. Protest music: Buy It Here! Love and War, the Debut Album by Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Launches Today
2. Austerity: George Osborne’s Savage Cuts to Some of the UK’s Most Vulnerable People in His ‘Emergency Budget’
3. Music festivals: Photos: Mud and Magic at WOMAD 2015
4. Jeremy Corbyn, CND: Photos: Jeremy Corbyn at CND’s Hiroshima Day 70th Anniversary Ceremony in Tavistock Square
5. Refugee crisis: As the Death of Three-Year Old Syrian Refugee Aylan Kurdi Appals All Decent People, Please Sign the E-Petition Asking the UK Government to Accept More Refugees
6. Jeremy Corbyn, refugee crisis: Report and Photos: The Massive March for Refugees in London – and Jeremy Corbyn’s Victory
7. John McDonnell: “This Is The New Politics”: John McDonnell’s Inspiring Speech to the Labour Party Conference Includes Announcement of Establishment of Powerful Left-Wing Economic Advisory Board
8. Protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play ‘Tory Bullshit Blues’ Unplugged
9. Syria: Labour’s Dilemma: What Should Be Done with the 66 MPs Who Voted with the Tories to Approve Airstrikes in Syria?
10. Protest music, books: For Christmas, Buy My Books on the UK Counter-Culture and Guantánamo and My Music with The Four Fathers
11. Protest music: Videos: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “Fighting Injustice” and “She’s Back”

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 debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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 six-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, 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.

Off to WOMAD for A Long Weekend of World Music, Back on Monday

A comparatively rare sunny interlude at the often rather wet WOMAD 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).My friends,

I’m off to WOMAD, the wonderful world music festival in Wiltshire, for the 15th year running, with a posse of good friends and their families. I’ll be back on Monday. My wife has been running children’s workshops since our kids were tiny toddlers, when WOMAD was still by the river in Reading, and now our kids are young men and the festival is happily settled into Charlton Park near Malmesbury, a wonderful site.

I never quite know who’s going to be on. One of the great joys of WOMAD is being surprised by wonderful musicians from all round the world — and, for me, especially, Africa — so I’ll report back later on my discoveries. I do know that Asian Dub Foundation are the welcoming band on the Friday night, and that George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic will be wowing us at some point.

I also hope that my band The Four Fathers (on Twitter here!) will be playing the Open Mic at Molly’s Bar at some point over the weekend, and I already know that my son Tyler (The Wiz-RD) will be beatboxing and providing some spoken word pieces at the Hip Yak Poetry Shack. Read the rest of this entry »

Fighting Injustice: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Release New EP Including Reworked ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’

Fighting Injustice by The Four Fathers (design by Brendan Horstead).Today, London-based band The Four Fathers release the Fighting Injustice EP online, via Bandcamp, in two versions: one for the UK and one for the US.

The EP features three reworked songs from the band’s debut album, ‘Love and War’, released last summer, written by lead singer Andy Worthington, a journalist and human rights and social justice activist, who has spent the last ten years focusing primarily on the US prison at Guantánamo Bay Cuba.

Please feel free to listen to the EPs below — and please support us by buying them, or by buying individual tracks, if you like them. Later this month we will be in the studio making the first recordings for our second album, to be released in 2017.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: Andy Worthington’s Hour-Long Guantánamo Interview on Wake-Up Call Podcast

The logo for Wake-Up Call Podcast, run by Adam Camac and Daniel Laguros.Please support my work!

Have an hour to spare? Want to hear me talk in detail about Guantánamo? Then please listen to me on Wake-Up Call Podcast with Adam Camac and Daniel Laguros, who “interview experts on foreign relations, economics, current events, politics, political theory, and more every weekday.”

They decided to call the show “The Horrible Guantánamo Bay Facility,” which I think is accurate, as I was able to explain in detail what a thoroughly disgraceful facility Guantánamo is at every level.

I began by explaining why the naval base at Guantánamo Bay was chosen as the location for an offshore facility that was supposed to be beyond the reach of the US courts, and how, of course, creating somewhere outside the law made it shamefully easy to begin torturing the men — and boys — who were swept up in the “war on terror” and held there.

See below for the interview on YouTube (and you can also listen to it here): Read the rest of this entry »

David Cameron, Zac Goldsmith and Andrew Neil Owe Suliman Gani An Apology for Calling Him “Repellent” and an IS Supporter

A photo of Zac Goldsmith with Suliman Gani, released by Gani after Goldsmith had unjustifiably described him as "one of the most repellent figures in this country."What a disgrace the Tories are. With Zac Goldsmith consistently trailing Sadiq Khan in the polls, prior to the election of London’s Mayor on May 5, campaign managers — including PR guru Lynton Crosby, who specialises only in the kind of black propaganda that has dragged politics into the gutter for the last six years — decided to play the race card, accusing Khan, a Muslim, of sharing platforms with Muslim extremists, and singling out, for particular attention, Suliman Gani, a teacher and broadcaster, and formerly the imam of Tooting Islamic Centre.

This was an odd choice, as anyone who knows Suliman Gani can confirm, because he is no extremist, but, rather, a community leader who tries to build bridges between communities, and a tireless advocate for human rights. I have known him for many years through my work on Guantánamo and the campaign to free Shaker Aamer, and have always found him to be thoroughly decent. Although he is socially conservative, and opposed to gay marriage, which is not a position I take, it is one that many Tories do, but I have no reason to suspect that he views women as “subservient,” as alleged, or, crucially, to believe that he is at all supportive of terrorism.

So it came as a real shock when, last Thursday, speaking of individuals Sadiq Khan has shared a platform with, Zac Goldsmith said, “To share a platform nine times with Suliman Gani, one of the most repellent figures in this country, you don’t do it by accident.” Read the rest of this entry »

Please Ask Your MPs to Support Caroline Lucas’s Early Day Motion Calling for the Closure of Guantánamo

Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion) supporting the We Stand With Shaker campaign in February 2015, with a poster for Valentine's Day declaring, "There is no love in Guantanamo." In March 2016, Caroline launched a new Early Day Motion calling for the closure of Guantanamo.

Contact your MP here.

Last week, Britain’s Green MP, Caroline Lucas, with the support of five other MPs, tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM 1260), entitled, ‘The Closure of Guantánamo Bay,’ which states, “That this House welcomes President Obama’s latest plan to fulfil his pledge to close Guantánamo Bay by the end of his Presidency; notes that this is President Obama’s last year in office and that his first executive order in January 2009 was to close Guantánamo; further notes that a recent US Senate report recognised the systematic use of torture in Guantánamo; believes that Guantánamo is now synonymous with torture, rendition and indefinite detention, rendering it a symbol of human rights abuses; further welcomes the release and return to the UK of British resident Shaker Aamer from nearly 14 years imprisonment in Guantánamo without charge or trial, but notes that 91 prisoners remain in Guantánamo; notes that many of these have been cleared for release without charge or trial so should be released without delay; further believes that the remaining detainees should have their full human rights restored and should either be released to countries that will respect their human rights or be given a fair trial; and urges the Government to support President Obama’s effort to close Guantánamo Bay but oppose any moves simply to relocate detainees from Guantánamo to another detention facility in the US.”

This is a comprehensive synopsis of the situation at Guantánamo with just 300 days left of the Obama Presidency, as currently highlighted by the Countdown to Close Guantánamo that I launched in January with music legend Roger Waters — mentioning the 91 men still held, even though 36 of them have been approved for release, the Senate Torture Report, and of course the release of Shaker Aamer.

Caroline has persistently opposed the existence of Guantánamo, tabling Early Day Motions calling for the prison’s closure in 2010 and 2011 (EDM 1093 and EDM 2558), and she was also one of the founding members of the All-Party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group set up by John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) in November 2014, which played a major role in securing the release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo last October. Read the rest of this entry »

The Countdown to Close Guantánamo: For Mar. 25, Send Us Your Photos and Tell Obama He Has Just 300 Days Left to Close the Prison

Andy Worthington promotes the latest phase of the Countdown to Close Guantanamo, pointing out to President Obama that he has just 300 days left to close Guantanamo, as he promised on his second day in office in January 2009.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.

In January, to mark the last year of the Obama presidency, music legend Roger Waters and I launched the Countdown to Close Guantánamo on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. The initiative was designed to allow people to have their say in keeping up the pressure on President Obama to fulfill the promise to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay that he made on his second day in office in January 2009.

The Countdown to Close Guantánamo involves supporters of our campaign and of the need for the prison’s closure taking photos of themselves with posters counting down to the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. The first poster — marking 1 year to go — was for January 20, the second — 350 days — was for February 4, and we are now calling for supporters to print off the poster marking 300 days, and to send it to us by March 25.

If you’d like to include a personalized message, please do, and if you want you can also let us know where you are, to demonstrate the breadth of support for the closure of Guantánamo across the US, and around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington: An Archive of Guantánamo Articles and Other Writing – Part 18, January to June 2015

Andy Worthington standing with the poster for the We Stand With Shaker campaign at the protest against Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2015, the 13th anniversary of the opening of the prison (Photo: Medea Benjamin for Andy Worthington).Please support my work!

This article is the 18th in an ongoing series of articles listing all my work in chronological order. It’s a project I began in January 2010, when I put together the first chronological lists of all my articles, in the hope that doing so would make it as easy as possible for readers and researchers to navigate my work — the 2,584 articles I have published since I began publishing articles here in May 2007, which, otherwise, are not available in chronological order in any readily accessible form.

I first began researching the Bush administration’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there over ten years ago, in the fall of 2005, and began researching and writing about it on a full-time basis exactly ten years ago in March 2006, when the Pentagon lost a FOIA lawsuit and was obliged to release 8,000 pages of documents relating to the prisoners. Initially, I spent 14 months researching and writing my book The Guantánamo Files, based on those documents, and, since May 2007, I have continued to write about the men held there, on an almost daily basis, as an independent investigative journalist — for two and a half years under President Bush, and, shockingly, for what is now over seven years under President Obama.

As I note every time I put together a chronological list of my articles, my mission, as it has been since my research first revealed the scale of the injustice at Guantánamo, continues to revolve around four main aims — to humanize the prisoners by telling their stories; to expose the many lies told about them to supposedly justify their detention; to push for the prison’s closure and the absolute repudiation of indefinite detention without charge or trial as US policy; and to call for those who initiated, implemented and supported indefinite detention and torture to be held accountable for their actions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Struggle to Close Guantánamo and to Free Shaker Aamer: A Talk by Andy Worthington at Exeter University Amnesty International Society, Feb. 25

Exeter University student Ellen Boivin promoting Andy Worthington's talk about Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer on February 25, 2016.It’s something of a rarity these days for me to be asked to speak about Guantánamo to students in the UK, so I’m delighted to be going to Exeter University next Thursday (Feb. 25) to talk to the Amnesty International Student Society about my work on Guantánamo and the campaigns to get the prison closed — Close Guantánamo and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo (also see here) — and, in 2014-15, to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, via the We Stand With Shaker campaign, which involved persuading celebrities and MPs to stand with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer.

My talk is entitled, ‘The Struggle to Close Guantánamo and to Free Shaker Aamer,’ the Facebook page is here, and it’s a free event, open to the public, so if you’re at the university, or in the Exeter area and can come along, I’ll see you there. It’s a 6.30pm start, and the address is: the Amory Moot Room, Amory Building, Streatham Campus, home to the university’s law school. A map is here, on which the Amory Building is no. 29.

Please also note that if you’re at any other university and want me to talk about Guantánamo, I am generally available to do so — get in touch. If you’re in London or within striking distance of London, we can also combine a talk with a gig with my band The Four Fathers, playing politically-charged roots reggae and rock, with songs about Guantánamo (including ‘Song for Shaker Aamer‘, featured in the campaign video for We Stand With Shaker), torture (‘81 Million Dollars‘, about the US torture program), and the Tories’ cynical and brutal ‘age of austerity‘ here in the UK, and the need for an economic revolution based on socialism and environmentalism (check out our album ‘Love and War’ here). The combination of a talk and live music is something we did with great success just before Christmas at Deptford Cinema — see the videos below: Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: “Close Guantánamo” Protest Outside the White House, Jan. 11, 2016

The giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer outside the White House on January 11, 2016, the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison. I had brought it to the US after the role it played in the We Stand With Shaker campaign I set up in November 2014 with the activist Joanne MacInnes, helping to secure the release from Guantanamo, in October, of Shaker, the last British resident in the prison (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photos on Flickr here!

On January 11, 2016, I was outside the White House, as I have been on January 11 every year since 2011, calling for the closure of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. I was representing Close Guantánamo, the campaign and website I set up four years ago with the US attorney Tom Wilner, as part of an annual protest organized by numerous rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait.

My thanks to Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait for organizing my trip, which began with a brief visit — for the first time — to Florida (see my article here, and photos here), and then an early morning flight to Washington, D.C. to meet up with old friends from Witness Against Torture, who were staying, as usual, in a church where they were fasting and protesting on a daily basis, and to take part in a number of events — one on the evening of January 10, at which I spoke about We Stand With Shaker, the campaign to free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, and sang my “Song for Shaker Aamer” (see the video here); the main protest on January 11, the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison, outside the White House; and a couple of protests on January 12 that I’ll make photos available of soon. In the meantime, I hope you have time to check out my January 11 photo set, and to share the photos if you like them.

You can also check out the video of the speech I made outside the White House, and see Witness Against Torture’s collection of videos here. 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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