Andy Worthington Discusses the Guantánamo Hunger Strike on the BBC


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.

I didn’t have long to make my case in any of these appearances, but I was pleased that I had the opportunity to talk about the unacceptable injustice of Guantánamo, including the indefinite detention of 86 men cleared for release at least three years ago by President Obama’s own inter-agency task force, and the blunt truth that, unless action is taken by the President, all the men still held will die at the prison — in the near future, or decades from now — as there is no mechanism that can secure their release.

As I stated on World Have Your Say:

These are men who have been abandoned by every branch of the United States government — by President Obama, who promised to close the prison but then failed to do so; by Congress, which has raised obstacles; and by the US courts, which have also raised obstacles to prevent their release. They are trapped in Guantánamo. They very literally will die there, maybe decades from now, or maybe tomorrow given that they’re on a hunger strike.

But there is no way out for these men, and over half of them are men who were cleared for release by a task force that the President established when he came to office. The task force said these are not men that it is in the interests of the United States to carry on holding forever, and yet they’re all still there. So there are very obvious reasons why there is such a pervasive and prevailing sense of despair in the prison.

Andy Worthington 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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

9 Responses

  1. Tom says...

    Well done on this coverage, Andy.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Tom. Now let’s hope some parts of the BBC revisit the story in greater detail and with more time devoted to it.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    They cut you off abruptly there…but concise and effective, Andy x

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ruth. The World Have Your Say segment was expansive compared to the others. I was desperately trying to shoehorn the necessary facts into 2 minutes on Newsday at 7am and with George Alagiah. I wish the latter was online. I was sent a clip and I can confirm that it went well. BBC World News is not available in the UK, but it has a huge global reach, so hopefully a lot of people will have seen that.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Patrick Warren wrote:

    I just saw Obama said he plans on trying to do something about it again… do you believe it and what can he do to make it happen?

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Patrick, he needs to take on Congress, but not just talk about doing so, and if they won’t play ball, he and SecDef need to use the waiver in the NDAA that allows them to free prisoners without Congressional interference. Someone needs to leave the prison alive, and that needs to happen as soon as possible. Shaker Aamer could be returned to his family in the UK immediately.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Adriana Pacheco wrote:

    this is an unjustice…a total outrage !!!!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Redjade Magyarországon wrote:

    hey! we watched you on BBC 🙂
    great job!

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Adriana. Very true. And Redjade, I’m so glad you saw it! I was sent the clip today, and I thought I managed to get the main points across in the very short amount of time allocated to it.

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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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