8,000 Days of Guantánamo: On Dec. 6, Call For the Prison’s Closure Via the Global Vigils and the Close Guantánamo Photo Campaign


A promotional image marking 8,000 days of Guantánamo’s existence on December 6, 2023.

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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.

I often say that it’s easier to get blood out of a stone than it is to get a single prisoner out of Guantánamo — by which I don’t mean the handful of men charged with crimes, but those who have never been charged with a crime, and who, moreover, have been unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes.

Of the 30 men still held at Guantánamo, 16 are in this category, and throughout this year campaigners have been highlighting their plight through coordinated vigils for the closure of Guantánamo that I initiated in February, with the support of friends and allies from groups and organizations including Amnesty International, Witness Against Torture, the World Can’t Wait and the UK Guantánamo Network, which I’m part of, and whose monthly vigils outside Parliament, which resumed in September 2022 after a hiatus of many years, gave me the inspiration to try to expand the vigils internationally.

The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month at locations across the US and around the world, including London, Washington, D.C., New York, Mexico City, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Cobleskill, NY, Raleigh, NC, Brussels and Copenhagen. See here for the report about, and photos from the most recent vigils on November 1.

The next vigils take place on Wednesday December 6, when, coincidentally, another horrendous milestone in Guantánamo’s history will also be marked: 8,000 unforgivably long days since the prison first opened, on January 11, 2002.

A poster showing the 16 men still held at Guantánamo, despite having been unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes.

For the vigils, I’ve provided a poster showing these 16 men (see above), and a regularly updated additional poster showing how long they have been held since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to hold them. On December 6, as the poster below shows, they will have been held for between 439 days and 1,133 days — and, in three cases, for 5,066 days — since those decisions were taken.

A poster showing how long the men approved for release from Guantánamo have been held since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to hold them.

This is an unforgivably long amount of time, and the delays have only been possible because the methods used to approve these men for release were purely administrative, and are therefore not legally binding, meaning that there is no mechanism whereby the US government can be compelled to actually free them, and can delay as much as they want if they find it difficult, or even if they want to avoid antagonizing their Republican critics.

I hope you can make it along to one of the vigils (contact details below), and, if there isn’t one near you, you can always set up your own — although, if you do, please take a photo and send it to us.

A flier for the monthly coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantánamo.

If you can’t make it to a vigil, however, you can still get involved in calling for Guantánamo’s closure, because we’re marking 8,000 days of Guantánamo’s existence — as we do every 100 days — with a poster, and an associated and ongoing photo campaign, marking this shameful milestone, and calling on President Biden to close the prison.

The Close Guantánamo campaign’s poster marking 8,000 days of the prison’s existence, on December 6, 2023.

We’d love to have as many of you as possible involved in marking this occasion, because 8,000 days is such a horribly long time for this uniquely and monstrously unjust prison to have been open. 

At the start of this year, on January 11, marking the 21st anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, 170 people sent in photos of themselves with that particular poster, and we’d love to try and beat that achievement for 8,000 days, to send a message to President Biden that he has just over a year of his presidency left, and that there is no justification for any further delays when it comes to — at the very least — freeing the 16 men approved for release as swiftly as possible, and doing whatever he can to move towards closing the prison before the end of 2024.

Please send photos to Close Guantánamo here.

* * * * *

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, promoting an important date in Guantanamo’s calendar: December 6, when the prison will have been open for 8,000 days. Please join me in marking this terrible milestone by taking a photo with the 8,000 days poster via the Close Guantanamo campaign, and, if possible, joining one of the dozen or so monthly coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo, which take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and which, on December 6, happen to coincide with 8,000 days of the prison’s existence.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    For a Spanish version, on the World Can’t Wait’s Spanish website, see ‘8.000 días de Guantánamo: El 6 de diciembre, ayúdanos a pedir el cierre de la prisión mediante vigilias mundiales y nuestra campaña fotográfica’: http://www.worldcantwait-la.com/worthington-8000-dias-de-gtmo-6-12-ayudanos-a-pedir-cierre-prision.htm

    And see the 8,000 days poster in Spanish here: http://www.worldcantwait-la.com/8000-dias-cierra-guantanamo-ya.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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