Oct. 22: ‘Grassroots Protest: Activism From Below’ in Conway Hall – I Discuss Guantánamo and the Campaign to Free Shaker Aamer; Leila Hassan Discusses the Anti-Racist Movement of the ’70s and ’80s


A poster for ‘Grassroots Protest: Activism From Below’ at Conway Hall in London on Sunday October 22, 2023.

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I’m delighted to announce that, on Sunday October 22, I’m taking part in ‘Grassroots Protest: Activism From Below’, part of the ‘Ethical Matters’ programme put together by the Conway Hall Ethical Society, and also part of the Bloomsbury Festival.

The event runs from 3-4.30pm, and tickets are £9, with concessions at £6. Tickets for the live stream are also available for £6, and the event is free for Conway Hall members. You can book a ticket here.

I was asked to take part to discuss, in particular, my work with the We Stand With Shaker campaign, in 2014-15, which I co-founded with another activist, Joanne MacInnes, and which helped to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison at Guantánamo Bay, who had been held for over 13 years without charge or trial.

It was a continuation of work I had begun in 2006, researching and telling the stories of the men held at Guantánamo (as first published in my book The Guantánamo Files, and subsequently on my website and elsewhere), exposing the cruel lawlessness of the prison, and campaigning to get it closed. I’ve continued this work ever since, and I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be explaining on the day how the struggle is always necessary, even if it doesn’t seem to yield results. With the Shaker Aamer campaign, however, an extraordinary coalition of MPs, celebrities, the mainstream media, ordinary citizens and a giant inflatable figure of Shaker himself led to that rarest of things: a 100% positive outcome.

I’m absolutely honoured to be taking part in the event with the writer, editor and activist Leila Hassan. A founding member of the Race Today Collective in 1969, she also worked for the Institute of Race Relations in the 1970s, and became the deputy editor of Race Today in 1973, and the editor in 1986. In 1981, after the New Cross Fire, in which 13 young black people died, she organised, with Darcus Howe, the National Black People’s Day of Action, which, as the Guardian explained in an interview with Hassan in 2020, “is considered to be a turning point in black British identity.”

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

* * * * *

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.

4 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, promoting a very special event on Sunday 22nd October in Conway Hall in London, ‘Grassroots Protest: Activism from Below’, in which I’ll be discussing the We Stand With Shaker Aamer campaign of 2014-15, and my ongoing work on Guantanamo, and the writer, editor and activist Leila Hassan (Race Today) will be discussing her involvement in the anti-racist movement of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    I hope to see some of you there, either in person or online!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Goodwin wrote:

    Well done Andy! Hope 2 make it. X

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    It would be great to see you, Neil. Also at the Birds Nest for The Four Fathers next gig, on Saturday 14th October, if you can make it! https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=790763026387764&set=a.386754763455261

  4. Biomedis says...

    What inspired the author to delve into the research and storytelling of the stories of the men held at Guantánamo, and how has this work evolved since 2006? How does the author characterize the lawlessness of the prison, and what role has their campaigning played in advocating for its closure? Specifically, what success story does the author highlight in the Shaker Aamer campaign, and what factors contributed to its positive outcome?
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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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The Battle of the Beanfield

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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo


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