Videos of ‘Guantánamo: 20 Years After’, the Brighton University Online Conference on Nov. 12-13, 2021

30.12.21

A header from the website of the online conference, ‘Guantánamo: 20 Years After’, hosted by the University of Brighton, which took place on Nov. 12-13, 2021

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With just twelve days to go until the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, this would seem like a good time to make available some of the videos from ‘Guantánamo: 20 Years After’, the online conference on November 12 and 13, hosted by the University of Brighton, which I helped to organize.

The conference featured two keynote speakers (myself and former prisoner Shaker Aamer, standing in at the last minute for Mohamedou Ould Slahi), guest speakers Mansoor Adayfi (another former prisoner) and Antonio Aiello (who worked with Mansoor on his memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here, published this summer), ten academics delivering papers, and three panel discussions.

I posted a report about the conference just after it had taken place, although at the time videos of the presentations weren’t available, so I’m delighted to be able to present them now for those of you who weren’t able to attend the conference — or even for those of you who were, and will appreciate seeing them again.

First up is my keynote speech, ‘Guantánamo: 20 Years of Lawlessness and Tyranny’, available here via YouTube, in which I presented a history of the prison, summarized the failures of every branch of the US establishment over the last 20 years, and explained how we are in a position whereby the prison is still open, and 39 men are still held.

My keynote speech was followed by Shaker, who had responded to an urgent last minute email after Mohamedou fell ill, and who spoke from his first-hand experience about life at the prison from 2002 to 2015, when he was finally returned to the UK after an unprecedented campaign to free him, which involved MPs, celebrities, the mainstream media and grass-roots activists, including We Stand With Shaker, the organization I founded with activist Joanne MacInnes, which involved MPs and celebrities having their photos taken with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker.

The first of the academic presenters was Jeremy Varon, Professor of History at the New School in New York City, and an organizer with the US campaigning group Witness Against Torture (WAT), who delivered a captivating presentation, with slides, of WAT’s history of creative actions to highlight the injustice of Guantánamo and the US torture program, from its origins in 2005, when the group visited Cuba, through the long years of its annual interventions at key locations in Washington, D.C. on and around the anniversary of the prison’s opening.

Via the conference website, links can be found to the other academic presentations on the first day. Mansoor and Antonio’s presentation, and the second day’s academic presentations, are not yet available online, but videos of the three panel discussions are, and these are posted below, beginning with ‘Military Commissions and Torture’, on the first day, in which the panelists were Michel Paradis, Lecturer in Law at Colombia Law School, and the senior civilian attorney for the military commission’s defense teams, Tracy Doig of Freedom from Torture, and the former minister and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, discussing Britain’s role. I also spoke about the CIA “black site” program, including the role I had played in exposing it as the lead author of a 2010 UN report into secret detention.

The first of the panel discussions on the second day was ‘Guantánamo: The Future’, featuring three lawyers who spoke compellingly about Guantánamo and the law: Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Nancy Hollander, who represented Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and was played by Jodie Foster in ‘The Mauritanian’, Kevin Macdonald’s compelling adaptation of Mohamedou’s acclaimed memoir, Guantánamo Diary, and Jonathan Hafetz of Seton Hall Law School.

The final panel discussion, which closed the conference, was ‘Activism and Accountability’, in which Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s Director of Security with Human Rights, showed a moving film of the annual protest for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2020, and Sara Birch showed a film from 2013 of schoolchildren campaigning for the release of Shaker Aamer — both reinforcing the necessity of activism. Jeremy Varon and I also spoke, and, as I noted in my article about the conference, I “explain[ed] my intention to set up an organization dedicated to pursuing accountability — with a particular and immediate focus on removing the ‘enemy combatant’ stigma and restoring rights to those released from Guantánamo, and, in the longer term, pursuing accountability for those responsible for establishing and maintaining the prison over 20 unforgivably long years.” Do get in touch if this is something you would like to be involved in, particularly if you’re in the US, and have administrative experience of setting up a not-for-profit organization, and/or experience of fundraising.

I hope you have time to watch some or all of these presentations, and that you’ll share them if you find them useful. We are currently working on a book collecting the conference papers, and there will, of course, be numerous online events marking the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo in two weeks’ time, which I’ll keep you posted about via this website, the Close Guantánamo website, and our various social media channels.

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Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison 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 you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — continues.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, featuring videos from ‘Guantanamo: 20 Years After’, the online conference, hosted by the University of Brighton, which took place on Nov. 12-13, 2021, and which I helped to organize with law lecturer Sara Birch. I was also a keynote speaker, along with former prisoner Shaker Aamer.

    Included here are videos of the keynote speeches, a presentation by Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture, and the conference’s three panel discussions, about the military commissions and torture, about the future of Guantanamo, and about activism and accountability, in which participants included the attorneys Shayana Kadidal, Nancy Hollander and Jonathan Hafetz, and Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA.

    I hope you’ll have time to watch the videos, and that you’ll share this article if you find them informative. With just 12 days to go until the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, it’s important that we alert as many people as possible to this ongoing injustice, and that we make as much noise as we can!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    For a Spanish version, via the World Can’t Wait’s Spanish website, see ‘Vídeos de la conferencia en línea de la universidad de Brighton ‘Guantánamo: 20 años después’ de noviembre 12 y 13 del 2021’: http://www.worldcantwait-la.com/worthington-videos-de-la-conferencia-en-linea-guantanamo-20-anos-despues.htm

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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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