Photos and Report: The Coordinated Global Vigils for the Closure of Guantánamo on October 4, 2023

7.10.23

Photos from the coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantánamo on October 4, 2023. Clockwise from top left: Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Raleigh, NC.

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UPDATE October 12: Added below are four photos from the UK Guantánamo Network‘s vigil in Parliament Square, in London, which took place a week late, on Wednesday October 11, because of a train strike on October 4.

On Wednesday October 4, the latest monthly coordinated vigils for the closure of Guantánamo took place in eleven locations worldwide — Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Raleigh, NC, Mexico City, Brussels, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Detroit, Cobleskill, NY, and Minneapolis, although in the latter location no photographer was available. In London, we delayed our vigil for a week until October 11, because of a train strike, and I’ll be adding photos next week.

The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and began in February, when I asked friends and colleagues across the US, and in Mexico City, Brussels and Copenhagen, to join the monthly vigils for the prison’s closure that campaigners in London had been undertaking since September last year, drawing on a long tradition of Guantánamo vigils outside the Houses of Parliament.

For the previous vigils, please see my reports from March, April, May, June, July, August and September, all accompanied by numerous photos.

Campaigners with Witness Against Torture and Close Guantánamo on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on October 4, 2023. Helen Schietinger wrote, “Five stalwart activists held vigil for an hour before the US Capitol today: Judith Kelly, Art Laffin, Steve Lane, Frank Panopoulos, and myself. We stood silently, sang, and spoke to passers-by, who almost always agreed about the injustice of Guantánamo.” 
Campaigners in New York City, on the steps of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue, on October 4, 2023, including, in the centre, Debra Sweet, the National Director of the World Can’t Wait. Debra said, “We had 18 people, and ended with a group song, ‘Guantánamo — let’s shut it down.’ As usual, a number of people — 20 or so — stopped to share, to listen for awhile.”
In San Francisco, campaigners including Gavrilah Wells held a short and poignant sunset vigil at Crissy Field, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, on October 4, 2023.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, NC Stop Torture Now sponsored a Close Guantánamo protest at the US Federal Building on October 5, 2023. Christina Cowger said, “Many motorists and pedestrians honked and waved in approval. Participants are contacting their US Representatives (Deborah Ross and Valerie Foushee, both Democrats) to urge pressure on the Biden Administration to close the prison.”
In Mexico City, Alli McCracken and Natalia Rivera Scott, longtime opponents of Guantánamo’s continued existence, held a vigil on October 4, 2023.
In Brussels, Jeanne Ghislaine and Luk Vervaet of the the Comité Free.Assange.Belgium held a vigil on October 3, 2023.
Campaigners with Amnesty Events Copenhagen held a vigil on October 3, 2023.
In Los Angeles, Jon Krampner held a solitary vigil on October 4, 2023  in front of the Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building, where for a change, someone was present to take a photo. Jon said, “As usual, even though it was a lunch break, there weren’t many people around, a post-Covid thing, I assume. I will man my battle station again next month and, again, try to get others to join.”
Amnesty International campaigners in Detroit held a vigil on October 4, 2023 outside the Federal Building on Michigan Avenue. Geraldine Grunow wrote, “Just four of us, but we got a good amount of supporting honks. We’re thinking of creating a small, basic flyer with ‘Why we are here’ answers, to pass out to federal employees as they leave the building, studiously avoiding us!”
Members of the Peacemakers of Schoharie County held their regular monthly vigil in Veteran’s Park in Cobleskill, NY on October 4, 2023. 
Campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network at their vigil in Parliament Square, in London, which took place a week late, on Wednesday October 11, 2023, because of a train strike on October 4 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

While all the campaigners were calling for the closure of Guantánamo, a specific focus of vigils is to urge the Biden administration to stop dragging its heels when it comes to freeing the 16 men (out of the 30 still held) who have been unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes. At some locations campaigners were holding a poster I prepared showing how long they have been held since those decisions were taken — as of October 4, shamefully, between 376 and 1,041 days, and, in three cases, 5,003 days.

The only reason the US can continue to hold these men, despite having approved them for release, is because those decisions involved administrative processes, which have no legal weight, meaning that the prisoners cannot appeal to a judge to order their release when the administration has so dispiritingly failed to free them. What that means, sadly and shamefully, is that they are effectively still held as fundamentally without rights as they were when Guantánamo opened, 7,940 days ago today.

Another photo from Washington, D.C., where a passer-by joined the vigil.
And another photo from Washington, D.C., featuring a banner with the memorable message, “Release those unjustly bound.”
Another photo of the lively, well-attended and musical vigil in New York City.
A campaigner in San Francisco holding up a poster calling for the release of the 16 men unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes, but still held, for between 376 and 5,003 days, as of October 4.
Another photo of Amnesty International campaigners in San Francisco.
Amnesty International campaigners at Crissy Field, in San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Amnesty International campaigners on the rocks by Crissy Field, in San Francisco.
A powerful photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Another striking photo from Mexico City.
In Mexico City, holding up the poster showing how long the 16 men approved for release from Guantánamo have been held since the US government decided that it no longer wanted to keep holding them.
Solidarity from Mexico City from Alli McCracken and Natalia Rivera Scott.
Another photo from Brussels, where campaigners are also calling for an end to the proposed extradition of Julian Assange from the UK to the US, and for him to be freed.
Another photo of campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network at their vigil in Parliament Square, in London, which took place a week late, on Wednesday October 11, 2023, because of a train strike on October 4 (Photo: Andy Worthington).
Another photo of campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network at their vigil in Parliament Square, in London, which took place a week late, on Wednesday October 11, 2023, because of a train strike on October 4.
Andy Worthington, on the right, with the poster showing the 16 men still held at Guantánamo, despite being approved for release, at the UK Guantánamo Network‘s vigil in Parliament Square, in London, on Wednesday October 11, 2023, and, on the left, a new supporter who had travelled from Woking to take part.

The next vigils are on Wednesday November 1, and Wednesday December 6 — and that latter date also marks 8,000 days of Guantánamo’s existence. For many years now, via the Close Guantánamo campaign, I’ve been inviting people to send in photos of themselves with posters marking every 100 days of the prison’s existence, so December 6 will be the perfect opportunity to have 8,000 days posters at the vigils, to accompany what I hope will be a significant response from other individual supporters around the world. Please do join us!

See below for the poster by Gavrilah Wells, adapted from a poster initially prepared by Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA, advertising next month’s vigils. And if a location near you isn’t listed, please do set up your own — but don’t forget to let me know, and to send photos.

* * * * *

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, featuring photos from, and my report about the eleven coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo that took place on October 4, 2023 in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Raleigh, NC, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Cobleskill, NY, Detroit, Brussels, Copenhagen and Minneapolis.

    The ongoing vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and, as well as calling for the closure of the prison, also highlight the plight of the 16 men (out of the 30 still imprisoned) who have been approved for release but are still held — as of October 4, between 376 and 5,003 days since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to hold them.

    Please note that London’s vigil was postponed because of a rail strike, but will be taking place this coming Wednesday, October 11, from 1-3pm in Parliament Square.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Thank you, Andy! And thank you to the other amazing activists that are part of the vigils 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Natalia. I always love seeing all the photos together, as it really does seem to demonstrate a global solidarity.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    For a Spanish version, on the World Can’t Wait’s Spanish website, see ‘Fotos e Informe: Las Vigilias Mundiales Coordinadas por el Cierre de Guantánamo el 4 de octubre de 2023’: http://www.worldcantwait-la.com/worthington-fotos-y-reportaje-vigilias-mundiales-cierre-gtmo-4-10-23.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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