Photos and Report: The Coordinated Global Vigils for the Closure of Guantánamo on November 1, 2023


Photos from the coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantánamo on November 1, 2023. Clockwise from top left: London, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City.

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Campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network outside the US Embassy in Nine Elms, London on November 1, 2023. Normally in Parliament Square, we move to the US Embassy every six months, but we had no idea that, yesterday, the US Vice President Kamala Harris would be visiting at the same time. As her cavalcade passed by after her visit to the Embassy, to visit Rishi Sunak, we all stood with ‘Close Guantanamo’ placards, which must have been noticed! (Photo: Andy Worthington).
Campaigners in Washington, D.C., on November 1, 2023, moved from their previous location, on Capitol Hill, to the White House, to attract more attention. Helen Schietinger of Witness Against Torture wrote, “We were five at the White House for our November Close Guantánamo Vigil in Washington D.C.: Steve Lane, Frank Panopoulos, Judith Kelly, David Barrows and myself. President Biden never showed up.”
Campaigners in New York City, on the steps of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue, on November 1, 2023, including, in the purple jacket, Debra Sweet, the National Director of the World Can’t Wait. The New York vigils always involve speeches, and on the mic is blogger The Talking Dog.

Amnesty International campaigners in San Francisco held a vigil at dusk in Dolores Park, initiated by Gavrilah Wells, on November 1, 2023.

One month ago, on October 4, 2023, when campaigners across the US and around the world held the ninth monthly coordinated vigils calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, which take place on the first Wednesday of every month, there was, I think, a dimly flickering hope that the Biden administration might be recognizing that dealing definitively with the poisonous legacy of Guantánamo would be a useful thing to do before the end of President Biden’s first term in office.

Just the week before, former prisoners, lawyers, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, and others, including myself, had spoken at “Close Guantánamo!”, a powerful event in the European Parliament hosted by the wonderful Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, with Fionnuala, following the first ever visit to the prison by a UN Rapporteur, which took place in February, providing a summary of her devastating report about what she and her team found there, which she summarized as “ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” that “may also meet the legal threshold for torture.”

Then, however, out of nowhere came the terrible events of October 7, when Hamas militants broke out of the “open air prison” of the Gaza Strip — where the Israeli government has held a captive population of 2.3 million civilians since 2007 — killing over 1,500 people, according to Israel accounts, and sparking a response that, by any objective measure, is horrendously disproportionate, with the Israeli military bombing the Gaza Strip relentlessly, and, as of today, having killed 9,061 people — almost all civilians — including 3,760 children and babies.

And yet, even as what is clearly a genocide unfolds before the eyes of the world, the Biden administration, and most leaders in the west, are refusing to recognize it as such, and are not only refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire, but are also continuing to support Israel, and, in many cases, to provide it with the weapons that are enabling its ceaseless genocidal onslaught.

As Islamophobia once more rears its ugly head, recalling the horrific racism towards Muslims that followed the 9/11 attacks, Guantánamo and the plight of the 30 men still held there — 19 held for between 14 and 21 years without charge or trial, and eleven  caught up in the broken military commission trial system — is undoubtedly slipping down the list of political priorities for the Biden administration, although globally we must take heart from the fact that there has never been so much popular support for the oppressions of Muslims as there currently is for the Palestinians of Gaza.

Given this highly charged atmosphere, I’m delighted to report that, on Wednesday, ten vigils took place around the world calling for the closure of Guantánamo — in London, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Mexico City, Copenhagen, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cobleskill, NY and Los Angeles, and photos from all of these vigils are posted above and below, with the exception of Los Angeles, where the sole campaigner, Jon Krampner, held a lonely vigil outside the Federal Building in  Downtown L.A., and where his best efforts to be photographed went unheeded. In Brussels, where it was a public holiday, campaigners skipped this month’s vigils, although Marie France Deprez sent a collage of photos taken at home which are also included.

A campaigner in the Zócalo, the main square in Mexico City, on November 1, 2023, with a figure behind marking El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), an important day in Mexican culture.
Campaigners with Amnesty Events Copenhagen.
Amnesty International campaigners in Detroit held a vigil on November 1, 2023 outside the Federal Building on Michigan Avenue. Geraldine Grunow wrote, “Five of us altogether, not too cold, but a big change since last month. Ken took your flyer [showing how long the men approved for release have been held] to show the Security people, but they wouldn’t take a copy. Still, no great hostility … And a good few honks from passing cars.”
Members of the Peacemakers of Schoharie County held their regular monthly vigil in Veteran’s Park in Cobleskill, NY on November 1, 2023. Susan Spivack wrote, “We gathered to join people across the USA, in Mexico, England and Europe to call for the closure of Guantánamo Bay Prison, and the release of the 16 men cleared for transfers to host nations. We stand also to lift up the call for the resolution of the cases of those involved in Military Commission faux trials, that guarantees the accused some small measure of justice — by banning solitary confinement (declared by international and domestic laws a form of torture), and by giving the accused independent medical care and support for their worsening psychiatric and physical damage from US-perpetrated Torture and prolonged indefinite imprisonment.” 
Amnesty International campaigners in Minneapolis on November 1, 2023, on Handshake Bridge between the Sculpture Garden and Loring Bridge.
Marie France Deprez in Brussels.

Regarding the Los Angeles vigil, Jon Krampner sent me a message in which he said, “There weren’t that many people and most ignored me, although about two thirds of the way through, a white SUV drove past and the driver read my Amnesty International sign saying ‘Close Guantánamo’ and then laughed. I guess that was a vote for keeping it open.”

Jon added, “At one point I asked a young woman standing nearby if she would take a picture of me. She said that ordinarily she would, but it was a work phone. Right before I was wrapping up, a guy took a photo of me, so I asked him to send me a copy, conveniently providing him with a copy of my e-mail address in 16 point type (boldfaced) to eliminate the risk of mis-transcription. He said he’d send it, but didn’t. This has happened five or six times over my vigils and is an utterly mystifying phenomenon. So no pix.”

Next month: the big one, marking 8,000 days of Guantánamo

For next month’s vigil, on Wednesday December 6, our coordinated global efforts will coincide with a grim anniversary — 8,000 days of Guantánamo’s existence — and we’re preparing to make it as big an event as possible. If you’re involved in the vigils, please print off the 8,000 days poster from the Close Guantánamo campaign’s Gitmo Clock page, and take photos with all of you holding posters, and if you’re an individual who wants to help out, take a photo of yourself — or get a photo taken of you with the poster — and send it to

All the photos that have been taken this year can be found on two dedicated pages on the Close Guantánamo website, here and here, and I hope you’ll agree that they provide a powerful testament to the commitment of so many people around the world to the closure of Guantánamo, which lest we forget, will mark the 22nd anniversary its opening in just two months’ time, on January 11, 2024.

Please, please, please spread the word, and please join us on December 6!

Another photo of campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network outside the US Embassy in Nine Elms, London on November 1, 2023.
Andy Worthington holding up a poster showing the 16 men approved for release from Guantánamo but still held, opposite the US Embassy in London on November 1, 2023.
Andy Worthington holding up a poster showing how long the 16 men approved for release from Guantánamo have been held since the US authorities decided they no longer wanted to hold them — shamefully, between 404 days and 1,098 days, and in three cases 5,031 days.
Debra Sweet speaks at the vigil in New York City on November 1, 2023.
Another photo of the vigil in New York City on November 1, 2023.
Amnesty International campaigners in Dolores Park in San Francisco on November 1, 2023.
Naheed Bashir and Tatiane Bragas in Dolores Park in San Francisco on November 1, 2023.
Another Day of the Dead photo in Mexico City.
Another photo in Mexico City, in front of a Day of the Dead altar, decorated with marigolds, the flower of the dead, food and personal objects.
Another photo from Mexico City.
Another photo from Cobleskill, NY.
Another photo from Minneapolis.

POSTSCRIPT: On November 16, Jon Krampner finally received a photo from the passer-by he asked to take a photo of him on November 1, and I’m delighted to post it below!

Jon Krampner outside the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles on November 1, 2023.

* * * * *

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.

2 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 ten coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo that took place on November 1, 2023 in London, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Mexico City, Copenhagen, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cobleskill, NY and Los Angeles.

    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 November 1, between 404 and 5,031 days since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to hold them.

    The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and the next vigils — on December 6 — are hugely significant, as that day also marks 8,000 days since the prison at Guantanamo Bay opened. I’ll be urging everyone at the vigils to take photos with the Close Guantanamo campaign’s 8,000 days poster, and I also urge everyone around the world who cares about the monstrous ongoing injustice of the prison’s continued existence to also take part, and to take photos with the poster, which is here:

    Please send photos to (anytime from now onwards) and see here for this year’s photos:

    I also note that this month’s vigils were the first since the world turned upside down on Oct. 7, with Hamas militants’ deadly assaults in Israel followed by Israel’s genocidal and ongoing carpet bombing of the Gaza Strip, a genocide that Israel’s supporters and enablers in the west — and especially the US — still don’t want to acknowledge, even as the death toll approaches 10,000, with over a third of the dead being children and babies.

    Sadly, this can only increase Islamophobia in general, recalling the horrible post-9/11 atmosphere that led to Guantanamo’s creation in the first place, and it also seems certain that it can only impact negatively on the Biden administration’s willingness to move forward towards the closure of Guantanamo. However, those of us involved in calling for the prison’s closure have always known it to be the very definition of an uphill struggle, and we will continue to make our voices heard.

    See you on December 6!

  2. Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, William S. Geimer, Andy Worthington November 8, 2023 - Gorilla Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media. says...

    […] plight of those held, and get them real justice. Last week he attended in London one of the “ten coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo“. He reminds: Sixteen of the thirty men are still held, after having been approved for […]

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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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