Free the Guantánamo 18: New Campaign Posters for Coordinated Global Vigils for Prison’s Closure on March 8, International Women’s Day


An updated poster showing the 18 men still held at Guantánamo who have been approved for release.

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With the release from Guantánamo last week of the Rabbani brothers, Ahmed and Abdul Rahim, the last two Pakistanis in the prison, Guantánamo now holds just 32 men, at an annual cost of at least $17 million a prisoner.

18 of these men — like the Rabbanis — have been approved for release, and yet they are still held because the Biden administration is not legally compelled to free them — unlike Majid Khan, who completed a military commission sentence last year and was resettled in Belize a month ago.

This is because the high-level government review processes that determined, unanimously, that the US no longer wanted to hold these men were purely administrative, meaning that the men, unlike Khan, cannot ask a judge to order their release, even though none of them have never even been charged with a crime.

The US government claims that it is working hard to secure the release of these 18 men, but without legal pressure, there is no sense of urgency, if, as seems apparent, it involves hard work negotiating with prisoners’ home governments, or, as is the case for the the majority of the 18 men, finding third countries that are prepared to offer them new homes.

Most of the men who need resettling are Yemenis, and, since the early days of the Obama presidency, Republicans have inserted provisions into the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibiting any repatriations from Guantánamo to Yemen, and to a handful of other proscribed countries, provisions which also affect a Libyan and a Somali who have been approved for release.

Since last September, campaigners in the UK — myself included — have been holding monthly vigils outside Parliament, as the UK Guantánamo Network (comprising various Amnesty International groups, Close Guantánamo, the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign), calling for the release of these men, and the closure of Guantánamo, and last month we were joined by campaigners in Washington, D.C.

Next week, on Wednesday March 8, campaigners in London and Washington, D.C. will be holding another coordinated vigil, and this time our vigils are starting to go global, with other vigils being held in New York and Mexico City. As it is also International Women’s Day, we will be focusing on the suffering caused to prisoners’ female relatives — their mothers, wives and daughters — by their long and inexcusable imprisonment without charge or trial.

Please do join us if you can — and feel free to set up your own vigil, wherever you are. You can also get in touch for further information or to let me know about your plans. Please also feel free to print off the #FreeTheGuantanamo18 poster at the top of this article, and the infographic below, showing how long the 18 men have been held since they were first approved for release. The figures on the infographic show the number of days as of February 23, when the Rabbani brothers were freed.

The updated infographic showing how long the 18 men approved for release from Guantánamo have been held since the decisions were taken that the US government no longer wanted to hold them.

Below is the list of vigils taking place next Wednesday.

March 8 vigils for the closure of Guantánamo

London, 1-3pm GMT: In Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London SW1. UK Guantánamo Network campaigners have orange jumpsuits and hoods for supporters to wear. For further information, please contact Sara Birch, the convenor of the UK Guantánamo Network on 07710 789616, or email Andy Worthington.

Washington, D.C., Noon-1pm, ET: On the corner of Independence Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, SE. Witness Against Torture and Close Guantánamo campaigners have orange jumpsuits and hoods for supporters to wear. For further information, please contact Steve Lane, Close Guantánamo’s Washington, D.C. coordinator, on 571-221-4120 or via email.

New York City, 4:30-5:30pm, ET: On the steps of the New York Public Library, 5th Avenue & 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018. Organized by the World Can’t Wait. See the Facebook page here.

Mexico City, Noon-1pm, CST: US Embassy, Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico City. Amnesty International and Close Guantánamo campaigners have orange jumpsuits and hoods for supporters to wear. For further information please contact Natalia on 55 3993 1730.

Please note that future coordinated vigils will be taking place on the first Wednesday of every month from now on, i.e. April 5, May 3, June 7 etc.

* * * * *

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, promoting the monthly coordinated global vigils for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay next Wednesday, March 8, in London, Washington, D.C., New York and Mexico City.

    Also included: an updated poster showing the 18 men still held who have been approved for release (following last week’s release of the Rabbani brothers), and an updated infographic showing how long these 18 men have been held since they were told that the US no longer wanted to hold them (as of Feb. 23, when the Rabbanis were freed, that was between 153 days and an astonishing 4,780 days).

    If you’re in London, D.C., NYC or Mexico City, I hope you’ll join us, and, if you’re elsewhere, feel free to set up your own vigil and to use the poster and the infographic (but do let me know, and do take photos!)

    We’re hoping that more people and more locations will join future vigils, taking place from now on on the first Wednesday of every month, i.e. April 5, May 3, June 7 etc.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    For a Spanish translation, on the World Can’t Wait’s Spanish website, see ‘Liberen a los 18 de Guantánamo: nuevos posters de campaña para las vigilias coordinadas a nivel global para el cierre de la prisión, el 8 de marzo, día internacional de las mujeres’:

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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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