Free the Guantánamo 16: Photos Of Nine Global Vigils For the Closure of Guantánamo on April 3, 2024

7.4.24

Photos from the monthly coordinated vigils for the closure of Guantánamo on April 3, 2024. Clockwise from top L: At the European Parliament in Brussels, outside the White House in Washington, D.C., in London, and in San Francisco.

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On Wednesday (April 3), the latest monthly coordinated vigils for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay took place at five locations across the US, in London, in Mexico City, and, as a special one-off event, in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi (second from left) joins members of the Comité Free.Assange.Belgium at an exhibition of Guantánamo prisoners’ art in the European Parliament in Brussels on April 3, 2024.
Campaigners in Washington, D.C. outside the White House on April 3, 2024.

Campaigners with the UK Guantánamo Network in Parliament Square in London on April 3, 2024 (Photo: Andy Worthington).
Campaigners with Amnesty International USA and the World Can’t Wait in Crissy Field, San Francisco on April 3, 2024 on what Gavrilah Wells noted was the 24th day of Ramadan. As Gavrilah also noted, “Curt Wechsler of the World Can’t Wait had the wonderful idea of using the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, inspired by a painting of the bridge by former prisoner Abd Almalik, painted when he was at Guantánamo.”
Campaigners in Mexico City outside the Palacio de Lecumberri, which, appropriately, is a former prison.
Campaigners with the Peacemakers of Schoharie County in Cobleskill, NY on April 3, 2024. Susan Spivack wrote, “We were happy to have seven of us present on a chill, windy, rain and sleeting late afternoon, and a passerby offered to take a photo of us all.”
Campaigners with Detroit Amnesty (AIUSA Group 78) outside the Federal Building on Michigan Avenue in Detroit on April 3, 2024. Geraldine Grunow wrote, “We were a chilly but cheerful bunch yesterday, buoyed by a goodly number of supportive honks, mechanical and vocal.”
Campaigners with Amnesty International in Minneapolis, on Handshake Bridge between the Sculpture Garden and Loring Bridge, on April 3, 2024. Aaron Tovo wrote, “It was freezing due to a strong wind but five of us prevailed.”
Campaigners with Amnesty Events Copenhagen.

I initiated the vigils last February, asking friends and colleagues in the US, Mexico City and various European countries to join the vigils that campaigners in London — myself included — had been holding in the UK capital since September 2022, reviving a tradition of London Guantánamo vigils that, many years ago, when British prisoners were still held, had taken place on a weekly basis.

The London vigils are organized by the UK Guantánamo Network, which brings together members of various Amnesty International groups, Close Guantánamo, the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and other campaigners, and in the US I initially reached out to friends and colleagues with Witness Against Torture, the World Can’t Wait and Amnesty International USA, with other supporting organizations soon joining in, including the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the Center for Constitutional Rights, NYC Veterans for Peace and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

The highlight of this month’s vigils, as shown in the photos above and below, was a special one-off vigil in the European Parliament, where an exhibition of Guantánamo prisoners’ artwork was taking place (from April 2 to 5), attended by former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi, joined by members of the Comité Free.Assange.Belgium, who have been part of the monthly vigils since last year.

Many thanks also to the other campaigners who, on the first Wednesday of every month, come rain or shine — friends in Washington, D.C., who take the message to the White House; in London, where campaigners travel from across London and the south east (and, this month, from Devon); in San Francisco, home to a great group of Amnesty and World Can’t Wait activists; in Mexico City, where two dear friends and relentless activists, Natalia and Alli, live; in Cobleskill, NY, home to a tenacious group of persistent peace campaigners, some of whom have been campaigning weekly, for various causes, since the 1980s; and Amnesty members in Detroit and Minneapolis.

In Los Angeles, a city of 3.8 million people, activist Jon Krampner generally holds a solitary vigil outside the Federal Building in Downtown L.A., and is only rarely photographed. On Wednesday, as he noted, “I put on my jumpsuit and hood and got my AI ‘Close Guantánamo’ sign and stood in front of the Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building from noon to 1pm. A few people engaged with me, most ignored me and no one took my picture.” I find Jon’s solitary, unrecorded dedication to actually be quite inspiring, but if you’re in L.A. and can join him, I’m sure that would be appreciated. Do contact me if you can help.

Also taking part — although generally on the evening before — are campaigners with Amnesty Events Copenhagen, who have been involved in the vigils since last year, and who have regularly taken quite striking photos.

Missing this month were our friends in New York City, normally under the leadership of one of my oldest friends in the US, Debra Sweet, the national director of the World Can’t Wait, and usually with speakers and sometimes musicians from a variety of campaigning groups. As Debra explained, however, “we got torrents of wind and rain yesterday, and actually the streets were flooded at the time of the vigil, so we had to cancel.”

In several of the locations — Brussels, London and San Francisco, in particular — our efforts are focused not just on the message that Guantánamo must be closed, but also on the 16 men, out of the 30 men still held, who have long been approved for release, and who need to have their long-awaited freedom prioritized by President Biden.

Mansoor Adayfi in Brussels, with the updated poster showing the 16 men still held who have been approved for release.

Since last year, I have made available a poster showing these 16 men, which I recently updated with some more recent photos, and every month I also update a second poster showing how abominably long it has been since these men were approved for release — shockingly, on April 3, for between 558 and 1,252 days, and in three outlying cases for 5,185 days.

Mark, from the Amnesty International Kent County Network, holds up the updated poster showing how long the 16 men approved for release have been held since those decisions were taken, at the London vigil on April 3, 2024 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Although these men were all unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes, they are still held because those decisions were purely administrative, meaning that there is no legal obligation for the Biden administration to free them, if, as is sadly apparent, they cannot be bothered to prioritize their release.

I recently highlighted these men’s stories in a series of ten articles, published here and on the Close Guantánamo website, which you can find here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, and we’ll continue to highlight their plight throughout the rest of the Biden presidency, especially as November approaches, and with no guarantee that Biden won’t lose to Donald Trump, who would, presumably, seal Guantánamo shut as he did during the four long and miserable years of his previous presidency.

Former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi holds up a “Close Guantánamo Now!” poster at the European Parliament on April 3, 2024.
Mansoor Adayfi in Brussels with a painting by his friend Sabri al-Qurashi, who, in 2014, was resettled from Guantánamo to Kazakhstan, but has been held ever since without any legal status, as Elise Swain reported for the Intercept in January 2023. The photo was taken by Erin Thompson, one of the curators of the first exhibition of Guantánamo prisoners’ art, in New York in 2017-18, who posted it on X, and noted that Mansoor was “touching for the first time since he left Guantánamo an artwork made by another detainee to illustrate their degradation. Neither were ever charged with a crime.”
Another photo from the Washington, D.C. vigil outside the White House on April 3, 2024. On the left is the Rev. T. C. Morrow from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).
Another photo from the London vigil with the updated poster showing the 16 men still held who have been approved for release (Photo: Andy Worthington).
At the end of the London vigil, campaigners crossed Parliament Square for a photo opportunity by the statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands outside what is now the UK Supreme Court. Responding to the appalling conditions in which over 400,000 prisoners were held, on both sides, in the American Civil War, Lincoln “issued General Orders 100, which would become the basis for future attempts to define the rights of prisoners, including the Geneva conventions.” (Photo: Andy Worthington).
More photos from the San Francisco vigil.
Gavrilah and Maryam.
Masih and Faisal.
Gilbert.
Another photo from the Mexico City vigil.
Another photo from the Detroit vigil.
Two more photos from the Minneapolis vigil.

* * * * *

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.

7 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 vigils for the closure of Guantanamo that took place across the US and around the world on April 3, 2024, the latest in an ongoing series of monthly coordinated global vigils that began last year.

    The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and the next date is May 1. This month’s vigils featured a special one-off vigil from inside the European Parliament, at an exhibition of prisoners’ artwork attended by former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi.

    At many of the vigils, campaigners were highlighting the plight of the 16 men who have long been approved for release, but who are still held because the decisions taken to release them were purely administrative, meaning that no legal mechanism exists to compel the Biden administration to actually free them if, as is becoming increasingly apparent, they have no real interest in doing so.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Russell B Fuller wrote:

    Shared; thanks, Andy.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, and for your interest, Russell!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Judith Lienhard wrote:

    Thanks 🙏, Andy!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank for your interest, Judith!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Amazing photos, family 🧡
    Alli and me send you our love and respect from Mexico City.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks so much for being part of our lovely global family, Natalia! 🧡

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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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