Video: Andy Worthington Discusses the Struggle to Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, Plays “Song for Shaker Aamer” at Revolution Books, NYC


Andy Worthington speaking about the struggle to free Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo at Revolution Books in New York on January 14, 2016 (screenshot from the video of the event).My short US tour to call for the closure of the lawless prison at Guantánamo Bay is almost over, but it has been a worthwhile visit, with events in Florida, Washington D.C. and New York City. On Thursday, I spoke for the first time at Revolution Books‘ new home in Harlem, about the successful campaign to free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, an immensely enjoyable evening in which a special guest in the audience was music legend Roger Waters, a supporter of my work and of the campaign to free Shaker for many years. The day after, Roger and I recorded a show for Democracy Now! which will be aired this week.

For my talk at Revolution Books, I was introduced by Debra Sweet, the national director of the World Can’t Wait, who has been organizing my annual visits on and around the anniversary of the opening of the prison (on January 11) every year since January 2011 — and who first organized visits for me (but not in January), in 2009 and 2010.

The video of the event, via Vimeo, is below. My talk begins at 10:09, and over the next 40 minutes I spoke about the campaign to free Shaker, through the work of the We Stand With Shaker campaign I launched in November 2014 with the activist Joanne MacInnes, the long-running Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, and the crucial support of the media and of MPs, led, initially, by John McDonnell, now the Shadow Chancellor, and then with great cross-party support from MPs including the Conservatives David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, and Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of the Labour Party.

The video is below, and I hope you have time to watch it, and will share it if you find it useful. It’s also here on YouTube.

Close Guantanamo NOW: Andy Worthington Speaks on the Battle to Free Shaker Aamer from Revolution Books on Vimeo.

I also spoke about the unreliability of the main allegations against Shaker — in particular, from torture victim Abu Zubaydah and from Yasim Basardah, a Yemeni, now freed, who is well-known as a profoundly unreliable witness. A third unreliable witness was a Saudi, Abdul Hakim Bukhari, who was imprisoned as a spy by the Taliban and, absurdly, sent to Guantánamo — although in my talk, I mistakenly suggested that the false claims made by Bukhari were made by Abdul Rahim al-Ginco (aka Janko), a young Syrian who, like Bukhari, was one of at least eight people freed by the US from Taliban jails only to be sent to Guantánamo.

I also spoke about meeting Shaker after his release, confirming how everything that was said about him — about his charisma, his eloquence and his intelligence — is true. Shaker is also dedicated to resisting and challenging injustice, and speaks of justice constantly. On meeting him, it is obvious that he must have functioned as the US’s suppressed conscience at Guantánamo, loudly and persistently reminding them of the importance of the laws and treaties governing the treatment of prisoners that had been jettisoned by the Bush administration after 9/11.

At the end of my talk, at 49:00, I sang “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the song I wrote about Shaker, and recorded with my band The Four Fathers. The recorded version was featured in the campaign video for We Stand With Shaker, but the version I played, on an acoustic guitar I’d borrowed for the event, has updated lyrics to reflect Shaker’s release.

You can listen to the recorded version here, where you can also buy it as download, for 80p ($1.25), although you are welcome to pay more. It is the opening song on “Love and War”, The Four Fathers’ first album, which is also available to download, or as a CD that can be posted anywhere in the world.

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,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, 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.

4 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, featuring the video of my recent talk at Revolution Books in New York City about the struggle to free Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, including the We Stand With Shaker and Save Shaker​ campaigns, and the support of MPs and the media, and also featuring me playing an acoustic version of “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the song I wrote for my band The Four Fathers​, available as a download here:

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jenifer Fenton wrote:

    What an awesome guitar! It was so nice to see you, I miss you already!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Thanks for bringing it, Jenifer. Very nice. Although not quite as nice as Roger Waters’ guitar, which I borrowed to play the day after at Democracy Now! More on that soon …
    I am also missing you. It was great to hang out and catch up!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    I just got back home, after an overnight flight from New York, to find that London is insanely sunny – cold too, but really rather radiant. However, I’m exhausted after not sleeping last night. More from me later. I have to have a nap!

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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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