Massive Attack focus on Guantánamo and renditions at Meltdown 2008


Massive Attack, the acclaimed and uncompromising Bristol-based musicians, who are curating Meltdown 2008 at London’s Southbank Centre from June 14 to 22, have added some potent politics to their programming by inviting legal action charity Reprieve, which works on behalf of prisoners in Guantánamo and US secret prisons, and Britons facing the death penalty around the world, to showcase a series of events in the Southbank’s Purcell Room.

Massive Attack's Meltdown

While Meltdown’s music will be provided by, among others, Grace Jones, Terry Callier, Tom Tom Club, Gang of Four, some excellent reggae and dub musicians including Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke and Adrian Sherwood –- and, of course, Massive Attack themselves –- Reprieve will be showing, on Sunday June 15, Alex Gibney’s excellent Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, which tells the story of America’s post-9/11 flight from domestic and international law through the story of Dilawar, an innocent Afghan taxi driver, who was beaten to death by US soldiers in a US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. The film will be followed by a discussion with Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, and released Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg. Other special guests are to be confirmed.

On Saturday June 21, theatre company iceandfire will perform Rendition Monologues, a new play, premiering at London’s Bridewell Theatre on June 8, which is based on the testimony of prisoners –- some released, some still imprisoned –- who have been subjected to the horrors of rendition, illegal detention and torture. This performance will be followed by a discussion with Zachary Katznelson and Chloe Davies of Reprieve, and released Guantánamo prisoner Bisher al-Rawi.

On Meltdown’s opening night, Saturday June 14, there will be a screening of Fourteen Days in May, the award-winning documentary, by Reprieve Chair and trustee Paul Hamann, about the last days in the life of death row prisoner Edward Earl Johnson. This will be followed by a discussion with Paul Hamann, Clive Stafford Smith and released death row prisoner Nick Yarris.

In addition, United Visual Artists, Massive Attack’s designers, will be showing projections and backdrops focusing on rendition and secret prisons, which will also be used on Massive Attack’s forthcoming world tour.

Andy is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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