8,000 Days of Guantánamo: Vigils Take Place Around the World and 170 Former Prisoners, Lawyers, Politicians and Campaigners Join Photo Campaign

8.12.23

Coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantánamo on December 6, 2023. Clockwise from top left: London, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Mexico City.

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Wednesday December 6 was a big day for Guantánamo activism, as it marked 8,000 days since the prison opened, and also coincided with the date for the latest global vigils, calling for the closure of Guantánamo, which I initiated in February, and which have been taking place across the US, in London, Mexico City, and elsewhere, every month since.

To mark 8,000 wretched and unforgivably long days of the prison’s existence, I encouraged anti-Guantánamo campaigners around the world to take a photo with the 8,000 days poster, hosted on the Gitmo Clock website, an initiative of the Close Guantánamo campaign, which I established nearly 12 years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.

The Gitmo Clock has been counting, in real time, how long Guantánamo has been open for nearly six years, since the 16th anniversary of the prison’s opening, on January 11, 2018, when the lamentable Donald Trump was president, and when the prison had been open for 5,845 days.

Since then, supporters of the long struggle to get Guantánamo closed — including former prisoners, lawyers and academics and the odd politician and celebrity, as well as many hundreds of grass-roots activists — have taken photos with posters marking every 100 days of the prison’s existence, as well as each anniversary of the prison’s opening. We marked 6,000 days on June 15, 2018, and 7,000 days on March 11, 2021, and I’m sure we’re all hoping that, after marking 8,000 days this week, we won’t have to mark 9,000 days of the prison’s existence on September 1, 2026.

If you have the time, please do check out the 170 photos we received (80 here, and another 90 on a second page here) to mark 8,000 days of Guantánamo’s existence, which include photos from four former prisoners, two lawyers, the great Irish independent MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace (who hosted an extraordinary event about Guantánamo at the end of September), as well as a whole range of campaigners from around the world, but particularly from the US and the UK.

I’d like to give a special mention to Gavrilah Wells, a tireless activist in San Francisco, who took nearly 50 of the photos, on various protests over the last month, as well as at Amnesty International meetings. As I wrote to her in an email, “I am so impressed by your dedication, and your photos quite beautifully capture a cross-section of those involved in protest and human rights in San Francisco, providing a brilliant snapshot of the other America — left-wing, multi-cultural — that we don’t always hear about. They should be featured in an SF paper or magazine, if such a thing exists anymore.”

Gavrilah wrote back, “Your collection of photos are absolutely fantastic, WOW. Not only do they call out to President Biden but they also help all of us feel connected and in community with each other, it is great to see everyone’s beautiful and kind faces including Mansoor, Mohamedou, you, family members, Clive Stafford Smith, Clare Daley and so many others!”

The 8,000 days vigils

Campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network in Parliament Square in London on December 6, 2023, holding 8,000 days posters (Photo: Andy Worthington). 
Campaigners outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 2023, holding 8,000 days posters.
Campaigners in New York City, on the steps of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue, on December 6, 2023. 
Campaigners in San Francisco, on the steps of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Photo: Phil Pasquini).
Campaigners in Mexico City on December 6, 2023.
Amnesty campaigners in Copenhagen, with  Amnesty Events Copenhagen, take part in the coordinated global vigils, holding 8,000 days posters.
Campaigners in Cobleskill, NY (members of the Peacemakers of Schoharie County)in Veteran’s Park on December 6, 2023.
Amnesty International campaigners outside the Federal Building on Michigan Avenue in Detroit on December 6, 2023.
Campaigners in Brussels on December 6, 2023, with the Comité Free.Assange.Belgium, holding 8,000 days posters, as well as a banner calling for the release of Julian Assange.

As well as coordinating and publishing the photos (which took me until 4.30am on Thursday morning), I also attended the London vigil on the Wednesday and also sourced and sifted through the photos from the other vigils to present this snapshot of coordinated protest around the world — in Washington, D.C., in New York City, in San Francisco, in Mexico City, in Brussels, Copenhagen, Cobleskill, NY and Detroit.

These photos are posted above and below, along with a selection of other 8,000 days photos, and I hope you find them inspiring, and will join us on January 11, 2024 — in just five weeks’ time — when the prison will have been open for 8,036 days.

To mark the 22nd anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, the date of next month’s coordinated vigils has been moved to Thursday January 11 (with the exception of London, where a march and rally is taking place on Saturday January 13). Normal service will, however, be resumed in February, with vigils taking place on Wednesday February 7, and, thereafter, on the first Wednesday of every month.

With President Biden about to enter his last year in office, we hope you will join us, in whatever way you can, to try to exert pressure on him to at least make progress towards the closure of Guantánamo in what little time remains, primarily by securing the release of the 16 men still held (out of 30 in total), who have long been approved for release by high-level US government review processes, but who are still held.

As I noted in a poster I update every month, on December 6, disgracefully, these men had been held for between 439 and 1,133 days since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to continue holding them indefinitely without charge or trial — and, in three cases, for an almost incomprehensible 5,066 days.

How can they do this? Sadly, it’s because the decisions taken were purely administrative, meaning that the men and their lawyers cannot appeal to a judge if the authorities find it inconvenient or difficult to set them free, or, in the majority of cases, to find third countries that are prepared to offer them new homes, because of provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that prevent their release to their home countries.

Help us to tell President Biden as forcefully as possible how unforgivable it is that these victims of “administrative detention” continue to be held, with no idea of when, if ever, they will actually be freed.

Andy Worthington at the London vigil in Parliament Square on December 6, 2023, holding the poster showing how long the men approved for release have been held since the US authorities decided that they no longer wanted to hold them.
Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith joins the Washington, D.C. vigil outside the White House on December 6, 2023.
Another photo of the campaigners in Mexico City on December 6, 2023.
Another photo of campaigners in San Francisco, on the steps of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Photo: Phil Pasquini).
Another photo from Cobleskill, NY, looking like a shot from an arthouse movie.
Independent Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace and their teams in the European Parliament on December 6, 2023.
Former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi, currently on a book-signing tour in Ireland.
Former Guantánamo prisoner Ahmed Errachidi, and his powerful amended message to President Biden.

* * * * *

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.

9 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 nine coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantanamo that took place on December 6, 2023 across the US and around the world.

    The vigils coincided with 8,000 days of the prison’s existence, marked by a photo campaign involving former prisoners, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from around the world, with over a hundred photos received to date.

    Thanks to everyone who took part. Now we start preparing for the next big event – January 11, 2024, which, shamefully, is the 22nd anniversary of the opening of the prison.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary MacGregor Green wrote:

    My Dad is rolling over in his grave about Gitmo. He always said, “Our boys get treated the way they treat prisoners of war” … as a commanding officer, that was his bottom line.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the reminder of a time when the Geneva Conventions applied, Mary. I suspect Israel has been emboldened in its genocidal impulses towards the Palestinians because of the way that the Bush administration showed such contempt for them in the “war on terror.”

    I vividly recall reading a book by a former interrogator in Afghanistan about how shocked they were when they set up their first prisons, and, as usual, put up copies of the Geneva Conventions on the walls, only to be told by their commanding officers that they no longer applied – and of course at Guantanamo, notoriously, Bush stripped the prisoners of their Geneva Convention rights in a memo on February 8, 2002.

    In Iraq, the administration pretended that the Geneva Conventions applied, but we all remember how that was exposed as a lie when the Abu Ghraib photos emerged in 2004, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that it was at another “detention facility” in Iraq, Camp Bucca, that most of the leadership of what was to become ISIS first emerged in response to America’s contempt for treating prisoners humanely.

    No wonder your dad is rolling over in his grave …

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Although it’s heartbreaking I always love our vigils and seeing the photos of the other activists 🧡

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Me too, Natalia. It seems to me that it genuinely creates a sense of global solidarity, and I hope everyone involved sees it that way – as well as anyone else who comes across the photos.

    I’m also deeply impressed by all the people who send in photos with the posters marking every 100 days of Guantanamo, and the response to the 8,000 days milestone has been inspiring. 110 photos posted to date, with another 16 just received, which I’ll be posting today: https://www.closeguantanamo.org/Gitmo-Clock-8000-Days-Photos

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    That’s incredible, Andy! So many photos! Thank you for doing this. It makes us feel that we belong to something very important and meaningful.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Natalia. That sense of solidarity is so important. Far too many people don’t seem to understand that the struggle is constant, and that to abdicate from it isn’t freedom; it’s capitulation to very dark forces indeed – the US government, the British government, and, of course, Israel – pretending that they’re somehow benevolent, when they’re really not.

  8. Happy Festivus – The Talking Dog says...

    […] about 3 weeks, we will acknowledge 22 years of GTMO. Which is all to say… we will continue to bear witness to events that can best be described […]

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    For a Spanish version, on the World Can’t Wait’s Spanish website, see ‘8.000 días de Guantánamo: Se celebran vigilias en todo el mundo y 170 ex presos, abogados, políticos y activistas se unen a la campaña fotográfica’: http://www.worldcantwait-la.com/worthington-8000-dias-gtmo-se-celebran-vigilias-todo-mundo.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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