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

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.

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Video: My Impassioned Speech at the EU Parliament’s “Close Guantánamo!” Event on Sep. 28, 2023

A screenshot of Andy Worthington speaking at the “Close Guantánamo!” event in the EU Parliament in Brussels on September 28, 2023.

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What a difference a month makes.

On September 28, I was in Brussels, taking part in “Close Guantánamo!”, a moving and powerful event in the European Parliament that I’d been working towards for six months with the indefatigable Irish independent MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, and former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi.

Over the course of three hours, a rapt audience heard a mixture of emotional, inspiring and legally compelling testimony about the evils of Guantánamo, the need to get the prison closed, and the urgent need to find new homes for at least 13 of the 30 men still held, who have been approved for release but cannot be repatriated. This is a pressing problem in need of a solution, with which, we all hoped, European countries might be able to help.

On October 1, I posted a detailed report about the event, also featuring the full three-hour video of it, at which the speakers, including Mansoor and myself, were two other former prisoners, Lakhdar Boumediene and Moazzam Begg, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, who summarized her devastating report about historic and continuing abuses at Guantánamo, based on the first ever visit to Guantánamo by a UN Rapporteur, which she undertook in February, the lawyers Alka Pradhan and Beth Jacob, Valerie Lucznikowska of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and James Yee, the former Muslim Chaplain at Guantánamo.

Afterwards, however, just as Clare and Mick were preparing to follow up, editing the event into smaller and more manageable podcasts and videos, and just as I was preparing to post a video of my speech, which Clare’s team had sent to me, the events of October 7 — when Hamas militants broke out of their “open air prison” in the Gaza Strip and went on a killing spree that left 1,400 people dead — threw all our plans into disarray, as it was immediately followed up by indiscriminate bombing raids of unprecedented ferocity on Gaza’s mercilessly trapped civilians, who, to compound their agonies, also had all their water, food, medical supplies and fuel supplies cut off.

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Further Calls for the Closure of Guantánamo from the United Nations and the European Parliament

Since the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo began, four months ago, it has been reassuring to see international organizations, the mainstream media and nearly a million members of the public (through various petitions) queuing up to criticize President Obama, and to urge him to address the reasons for the hunger strike, to resume the release of prisoners — especially of the 86 men (out of 166 in total), who were cleared for release by an inter-agency task force he established in 2009, and to revive his long-abandoned promise to close the prison once and for all.

It took the desperation of the prisoners to reach this point, even though their abandonment by all three branches of the US government has been evident since 2010, when President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison within a year, when Congress ramped up its opposition to the President’s plans, and when judges in the court of appeals in Washington D.C. passed rulings that prevented any prisoner from being released through the courts, by rewriting the rules governing their habeas corpus petitions, and ordering the judges examining their habeas petitions to regard every claim put forward by the government — however ludicrous — as accurate.

Once the news of the hunger strike began to seep out of Guantánamo, the pressure on President Obama led to him finally addressing the problems highlighted by the many critics of his inaction, first in a news conference at the White House, and then, on May 23, in a major speech on national security issues at the National Defense University, in which he said, “I am appointing a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries.” Read the rest of this entry »

European Parliament to Debate Motion Calling for Closure of Guantánamo

Tomorrow, just before President Obama delivers a major speech on national security issues — including his policy on Guantánamo, still gripped by a prison-wide hunger strike by men in despair at ever being released or receiving justice — the European Parliament will be discussing and voting on a resolution reiterating previous calls for President Obama to close Guantánamo as he promised when he took office in January 2009.

Delayed from last month, this arrives at a perfect time, reminding President Obama that his obligations towards the men abandoned at Guantánamo — by all three branches of the US government over the last three years — are not just a domestic matter, but an international one, and that further delays in addressing the complaints of the hunger strikers are unconscionable.

In brief, 86 of the 166 men still held were cleared for release over three years ago by an inter-agency task force established by President Obama when he took office; 46 others were consigned to indefinite detention without charge or trial by President Obama in an executive order two years ago, when they were promised periodic reviews of their cases that have not taken place; and the rest were supposed to be put on trial, although only six have been charged. All the men, therefore, have legitimate reasons for feeling abandoned by their jailers, and for seeking immediate action to secure their release, a review of their cases, or fair trials. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington’s Photos on Flickr: Protest 2012 – Guantánamo, Aafia Siddiqui and Shaker Aamer

"Free Shaker Aamer" protest in London, April 2012In Brussels with EgalitéBringing Guantanamo to the European ParliamentGuantanamo screening at the European ParliamentGuantanamo panel at the European ParliamentCrossroads, Brussels
A speaker at the Aafia Siddiqui rally in London, March 2012Andy Worthington at the Aafia Siddiqui rally in London, March 2012The crowd at the Aafia Siddiqui rally in London, March 2012Andy Worthington joins the "Free Shaker Aamer" protest in London, April 2012

Protest 2012 – Guantánamo, Aafia Siddiqui and Shaker Aamer, a set on Flickr.

Since setting up my new Flickr account last week, I’ve posted three sets of photos from my US tour in January, to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison – in New York, on the national day of action in Washington D.C., and in San Francisco and Chicago.

This latest set contains photos from a number of campaigns and protests in which  I’ve been involved this year, since I returned from the US — my visit to Brussels to show “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (the film I co-directed with Polly Nash) at the European Parliament, and two protests in London — a rally for the imprisoned Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui outside the US embassy in London on the 9th anniversary of her initial disappearance in Pakistan, and a protest outside Parliament calling for the return to the UK from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. Other protests — with UK Uncut and Occupy London — can be found here, here, here and here.

My thanks to the MEPs Jean Lambert, Sarah Ludford and Ana Gomes, for their persistence in exposing the injustices of Guantánamo and the “war on terror,” and to the Justice for Aafia Coalition and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign for their hard work on behalf of Dr. Siddiqui and Shaker Aamer. 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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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