Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Discusses Prison Artwork with the BBC, While Lawyers for “High-Value Detainee” Demand His Right to Continue Making Art

Untitled (aka Crying eye) by Mohammed al-Ansi, who was released from Guantanamo to Oman in January 2017, just before President Obama left office (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.





 

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.

Last October, an exhibition opened in the President’s Gallery, in John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, that might have attracted little attention had the Pentagon not decided to make a big song and dance about it.

The exhibition, ‘Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantánamo Bay,’ featured artwork by eight former and current Guantánamo prisoners — four freed, and four still held — which was given by the prisoners to their lawyers and their families, and it was not until November that the Pentagon got upset, apparently because the promotional material for the exhibition provided an email address for anyone “interested in purchasing art from these artists.” The obvious conclusion should have been that “these artists” meant the released prisoners, who should be free to do what they want with their own artwork, but the Pentagon didn’t see it that way.

On November 15, as I explained in my first article about the controversy, a spokesman, Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson, said that “all Guantánamo detainee art is ‘property of the US government’ and ‘questions remain on where the money for the sales was going,’” while, at the prison itself, Navy Cmdr. Anne Leanos said in a statement that “transfers of detainee made artwork have been suspended pending a policy review.” Read the rest of this entry »

Please Listen to Benjamin Ferencz, the Last Nuremberg Prosecutor, Explain His Implacable Opposition to War

A photo from the Einsatzgruppen (mobile SS death squad) trial as part of the Nuremberg trials on September 15, 1947, at which Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, was the chief prosecutor, at the age of 27. Standing is Otto Ohlendorf, the commander of one of the detah squads, delivering a plea of "not guilty." He was subsequently found guilty, and hanged.So the sabre-rattling in the West has begun yet again, cruelly and idiotically calling for more bombing in Syria, one of the most devastated countries in the world, in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris — even though the terrorists were European citizens, and even though the ongoing war in Syria has, to date, created a refugee crisis unprecedented in modern history. In response, I’m hoping that anyone interested in peace — and in understanding the true horrors of war — will find the time to listen to a profoundly enlightening interview I came across by chance last Friday, on the 70th anniversary of the day the Nuremberg trials began.

On BBC Radio 4, the PM programme interviewed Benjamin Ferencz, 95, the last surviving prosecutor from the trials, who was just 27 years old when, in 1947, he became the Chief Prosecutor in the ninth of the twelve Nuremberg trials, of 24 officers of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile SS death squads, who operated behind the front line in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe. and who, from 1941 to 1943 alone, murdered more than one million Jews and tens of thousands of other people, including gypsies and the disabled.

Ferencz’s testimony about what he witnessed at the liberation of the Nazis’ death camps, and his experience of the trials — and his subsequent conviction that he had to devote his life to peace — ought to be required listening for everyone, from our politicians to every single one of our fellow citizens. Read the rest of this entry »

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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, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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