Guantánamo in London: Parliamentary Meeting on June 26, Amnesty Event on June 28


A collage featuring former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi and various Guantánamo protests.

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In May, I reported on the inaugural meeting of the brand-new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Closing the Guantánamo Detention Facility in the Houses of Parliament, attended by six MPs and peers — Chris Law (SNP), who chaired the meeting, and is the co-chair of the APPG, John McDonnell (Lab.), Baroness Helena Kennedy (Lab.), Sir Peter Bottomley (Con.), Richard Burgon (Lab.) and Rachael Maskell (Lab.) —which was also attended by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, former Guantánamo prisoner and author of the best-selling Guantánamo Diary, and his former guard Steve Wood.

On Monday June 26 — coincidentally, and fortuitously, the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture — the APPG will be holding its second meeting, when it will formally announce its aims, and when Mohamedou will be visiting once again, with another former prisoner, Mansoor Adayfi, the author of another compelling memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo, also scheduled to attend, travelling from Serbia (where he was resettled in 2016) in what will be his first visit to the UK since securing a passport a few months ago.

Khandan Lolaki-Noble, who arranged Mohamedou and Steve’s visit in April, and also organized screenings of the feature film ‘The Mauritanian’, dramatising Mohamedou’s story, is organising Mansoor’s trip, and has set up a fundraiser to pay for it, via JustGiving. If you can help out at all, please do. At the time of writing, £821 of the target of £1,500 has been raised.

Also attending are: Clive Stafford Smith, the founder and director of 3DC (formerly of Reprieve), who represents a number of men still held at Guantánamo; Yasmine Ahmed, the UK Director of Human Rights Watch; Roslyn Rennie, Head of International Advocacy at Freedom from Torture; Nina Navid, Government and Political Relations Adviser at Amnesty International UK; Jodie Blackstock and Lydia Day of the Bar Human Rights Committee; and, visiting from the US, Karen Greenberg, the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law.

A promotional poster for ‘Life at Guantánamo: writing behind bars’, an event at Amnesty International’s UK headquarters in London on June 28, 2023.

On Wednesday June 28, Mohamedou and Mansoor will be attending ‘Life at Guantánamo: writing behind bars’, at Amnesty International’s UK headquarters, at the Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.

Mohamedou and Mansoor will be sharing their stories and experiences of writing behind bars, and I will be moderating the event, which runs from 6.20pm to 8.20pm. Tickets are available here via Eventbrite, at £12 for adults and £6 for Students and Under 16s, plus a booking fee.

I do hope you’ll be able to join us for this unique event if you’re in London, and if you’re interested in the APPG, please contact Sara Birch, the Convenor of the UK Guantánamo Network, on 07710 789616.

* * * * *

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 (see the ongoing 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, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

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.

19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, promoting the second meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Closing the Guantanamo Detention Facility in the Houses of Parliament on Monday June 26, attended by former prisoners Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Mansoor Adayfi (on his first UK visit), followed by an event at Amnesty International’s UK headquarters in London on Wednesday June 28, at which Mohamedou and Mansoor will discuss writing in prison, and I will be moderating.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote:

    When reading of the horrors inflicted on these people, who are what the empire of chaos calls “Collateral Damage” I’m forced to think of Julian Assange who is incarcerated by these same monsters and will be tortured in some US Gulag if the attempts to deport him are successful.
    The slippery slope to overt fascism accelerates by the hour.
    Hopefully Andy or someone else can draw those parallels at the London meeting.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kevin. I note that an Early Day Motion on World Press Freedom Day and Julian Assange was tabled by Jeremy Corbyn on May 3 this year, supported by 11 MPs in total, and with some overlap with the APPG on Guantanamo – John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas, Richard Burgon, Rachael Maskell and Apsana Begum.

    It’s so shameful that truly conscientious MPs are generally in such short supply in Parliament.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Meagan Murphy wrote:

    This is great news!!!!! Definitely something that cheers me up and if Guantanamo closes I will fall over in joy and happiness! How can anyone live on that island base pretending everyday that this is OK as they torture people?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Meagan. It’s certainly helpful to have the support of British MPs in calling for Guantanamo’s closure, and it’s wonderful that Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been able to visit the UK, to bring home to people the reality behind the “worst of the worst” propaganda that was so successfully implemented by the Bush administration.

    As for Guantanamo itself, I have no idea how the people working there can sleep soundly at night, although that same black propaganda I noted above is still used to brainwash military personnel serving there, so that they think they’re involved in protecting America’s national security, rather than being involved in an active and ongoing crime scene.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Gail Baker wrote:

    Andy, thank you for posting.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Gail. Thanks for your ongoing interest in ending the shame of Guantanamo.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Susan Hall wrote:

    Yes, thank you, Andy.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, as always, for your support, Susan.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote:

    I can feel the momentum building, Andy, bravo.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I certainly hope so, Kevin. It’s definitely encouraging that so many human rights organisations and lawyers are taking an interest in the APPG – and it’s immensely powerful, of course, that former prisoners are being welcomed into Parliament by supportive MPs.

  12. Anna says...

    Sounds like tomorrow will be an amazing event and if only I had known earlier I would have tried my best to attend. I suppose I still could fly on Wednesday but ticket price would be exorbitant 🙁

    I just started reading Mansoor Adayfi’s book which arrived from the US while I was away in France, with a lovely flower picture and a few hand-written words, which are very touching and somehow make him even more real.
    Wonderful that he got a passport !
    So at least I use this opportunity to remind you of the idea of another tour in Poland, as both he and Mohamedou can travel. And you always could 🙂

    And :

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Anna,

    Great to hear from you, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve got Mansoor’s book. Unfortunately, whether through incompetence or something worse, Mansoor hasn’t had his visa granted – yet – and so won’t be with us in person tomorrow, although he will be joining us via Zoom. Hopefully, when his visa is granted, we’ll arrange a number of events, and perhaps you’ll be able to come over.

    Fortunately, Mohamedou is here, on what is now his third visit to the UK, and Moazzam was also at the APPG meeting last night, which I’ll be writing about soon.

    I’m sure we could do something in Poland if you’re able to get a Polish translation of ‘The Mauritanian’ organised.

    As for the UN report, I hadn’t realised it was being launched yesterday, while the APPG meeting was taking place, so I came home to a full inbox of commentary from our American friends, and then read the report, which, of course, is scathing about the US’s ongoing human rights violations at Guantanamo. I’ll also writing about that soon!

  14. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, I hope yesterday’s event was as fascinating as it sounded, in spite of Mansoor’s absence. Your assessment of the reason for his visa application having gone nowhere, is very diplomatic.

    As for The Mauritanian, there is a Polish version, so no problem there. I wonder whether Mansoor would need a visa for Poland if his passport is Serbian. Even if it is Yemeni it might still be easier than for the UK.

    I recommend this half hour documentary about solitary confinement in the US. It offers a grim context for Guantanamo:

  15. anna says...

    In case this was not among the UN report comments you received from the US :

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Anna. It was a very inspiring evening, and was recorded by Amnesty, so hopefully I’ll be able to share the video of that soon – and Mansoor was very engaging, despite the disappointment of him not being able to be with us. As for his visa, my diplomacy was based on the possibility that it was incompetence rather than anything more sinister, but as time passes and there’s still no news, I’m more inclined to think that it was the latter.

    Very glad to have confirmation that there’s a Polish version the film, and I’m sure Mansoor would be interested in a visit. I suspect he’d need a visa, because he’s outside the EU, although, before any further discussions, let’s first of all get his UK visa approved.

    Thanks also for the link to the Al-Jazeera documentary. Many years ago I spent some time looking at the horrendous scale of solitary confinement in US prison, which really demonstrates what a brutal and barbaric country it is. Absolutely shameful. ‘Solitary Watch’ os a good website to follow:

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. Yes, I saw that. Elise has been doing excellent work on Guantanamo – particularly on the plight of these poor men in Kazakhstan. Sadly, the State Department official’s comment confirmed how, post-release, the US government simply doesn’t care what happens to released prisoners – so long as they don’t “return to the battlefield.”

    As Elise reported, she was told that “the US government does not agree with the characterization that it has a ‘legal and moral’ obligation to the resettled detainees”, with Vincent Picard claiming that, “Once security assurances have expired, and pending any specific renegotiation of assurances, it largely falls to the discretion of the host country to determine what security measures they continue to implement.”

  18. Anna says...

    And another one :
    It resonates with my own furious reaction when I read about Biden’s hypocrisy concerning aiding torture victims.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that link, Anna. I hadn’t seen that article by one of Ammar al-Baluchi’s lawyers, which is a very good summary of why Joe Biden’s hypocrisy is so profoundly shameful.

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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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