Wednesday April 5: The Next Global Coordinated Protests for the Closure of Guantánamo

27.3.23

My poster showing the 17 men still held at Guantánamo (out of 31 in total), who have all been unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes.

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I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

With the release from Guantánamo three weeks ago of the Saudi citizen Ghassan al-Sharbi, the prison now holds just 31 men, out of the 779 held by the US military since it first opened over 21 years ago.

17 of these 31 men have been approved for release, and yet there is no way of knowing when, if ever, they will be released, because they did not have their release ordered by a court, but recommended by administrative review processes, and, as a result, they cannot appeal to a judge to order their release if, as is the case, the government shows no sense of urgency when it comes to freeing them.

Complicating matters, however, we acknowledge that, in the cases of 13 of these men, the US government must find third countries prepared to offer them new homes, because provisions inserted by Republicans into the annual National Defense Authorization Act since the early years of the Obama presidency prevent any repatriations from Guantánamo to countries including Yemen, Libya and Somalia, and eleven of these men are Yemeni, one is a Libyan, and another is a Somali. An additional complication is that none of these men can be resettled in the US, because another provision in the NDAA prevents any Guantánamo prisoner from being brought to the US mainland for any reason.

In January, for the 21st anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, when there were 20 men approved for release but still held (with al-Sharbi and two Pakistani brothers subsequently freed), I made a poster showing the 20 men and calling for their release, which subsequently had over 21,000 views on Twitter, and followed up with an infographic showing how long these men had been waiting to be freed since they were first told that the US government no longer wanted to hold them (between 153 days and 4,780 days), which had over 77,000 views on Twitter.

The updated poster showing the 17 men is at the top of this article, and an updated infographic, showing how long they will have been held on April 5, is below.

My infographic showing how long the 17 men approved for release from Guantánamo will have been held on April 5,2023.

Since last September, with other campaigners in the UK (the UK Guantánamo Network, also comprising various Amnesty International groups, the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign), I have been taking part in monthly vigils calling for Guantánamo’s closure outside the Houses of Parliament in London, and after numerous organizations across the US and elsewhere held protests on the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo (on January 11), I thought it would make sense to try and keep awareness of Guantánamo alive — and to keep up pressure on the Biden administration — by asking campaigners around the world to join us in holding monthly coordinated global vigils.

In February, campaigners in Washington, D.C. joined us, and last month campaigners in New York and Mexico City also joined in. I’m glad to announce that for the next vigils, on Wednesday April 5, we’re also being joined by campaigners in Los Angeles, North Carolina and Cobleskill, NY.

Supporting organizations now involved in the vigils are: the UK Guantánamo Network, Amnesty International, Close Guantánamo, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait, CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations), NRCAT (the National Religious Campaign Against Torture), September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, ICUJP (Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace), NYC Veterans For Peace, NC Stop Torture Now and Schoharie Peacemakers.

If you’d also like to get involved, the details of all these vigils are below, although please also feel free to set up your own, and, if you do, please get in touch to let us know, and also to send us photos. Everyone involved is also invited to print off and use the poster and the infographic above.

April 5 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, 5-6pm, 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, who have orange jumpsuits for supporters to wear. For further information, please contact Debra Sweet on 646-807-3259 or via email.

Mexico City, 10-11am, CST: Plancha del Zócalo (P.za de la Constitución), 06010 Ciudad de México (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.

Los Angeles, Noon-1pm, PT: Downtown LA Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For further information, please contact Jon Krampner on 323-661-7428 — or, on the day, 323-697-7769.

Raleigh, North Carolina, Noon-1pm, ET: Federal Building, 300 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC 27602. Campaigners with NC Stop Torture Now will be with other peace protestors for this vigil. For further information, please contact Christina Cowger via email.

Cobleskill, New York State, 7-7.30pm, ET: 514 W Main Street, Cobleskill, NY 12043. For further information, please contact Elliott Adams on 518-441-2697 or via email.

* * * * *

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.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, promoting the next coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo, taking place on April 5, 2023 in six locations worldwide — London, Washington, D.C., New York, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Cobleskill, NY — and including the UK Guantanamo Network, Amnesty International members, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait.

    Also included: a poster showing the 17 men still held who have been approved for release, and an infographic showing how long they have been held since they were told that the U.S. government no longer wanted to hold them — as of Apr. 5, between 194 and 4,821 days.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote:

    USA, land of the free, unless you’re a world-renowned journalist or a valuable pawn that can be manipulated to make money from their incarceration in an offshore Gulag in occupied Cuba.
    No one has done more to expose the plight of the Guantanamo detainees than Andy.
    Huge respect mate, you’re doing revolutionary work.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10226351312741866&set=p.10226351312741866&type=3

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much for your supportive words, Kevin – and for sharing again that inspiring quote from Che Guevara!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Gail Baker wrote:

    Andy, you are much appreciated.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Gail! 🙂

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted the update about the organizations supporting the vigils, Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Andy, that is amazing news! See? You’re the glue holding us all together and more people are sticking up with us!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    🙂 Natalia!

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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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