Photos and Report: The Wet But Spirited Close Guantánamo Protest in London, Jan. 8, 2022, and an Online Gathering of Former Prisoners

Campaigners across the road from 10 Downing Street during the Guantánamo Network’s march and rally against the continued existence of Guantánamo on Jan. 8, 2022 (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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

It would be hard to imagine more challenging weather conditions than the torrential rain that dogged a protest against the continued existence of Guantánamo in central London yesterday, marking the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison in two days’ time.

39 campaigners in orange jumpsuits and hoods — representing the 39 men still held — marched in solemn procession from the Houses of Parliament, around Parliament Square and up Whitehall, stopping opposite 10 Downing Street, and ending up at Trafalgar Square. Each campaigner carried a laminated sheet featuring a photo of one of the prisoners, as well as their name and nationality.

The protest was organised by the Guantánamo Network, a coalition of groups that includes members of various Amnesty International groups, myself as the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, two long-running London-based Guantánamo groups (the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign), and Freedom From Torture. Particular thanks are due to Sara Birch, the Guantánamo Network’s convenor, who is part of the Lewes Amnesty Group — and under whose energetic leadership Lewes has become something of an epicentre for Guantánamo activism.

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Close Guantánamo Events to Mark the 20th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Campaigners (and former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi) call for the closure of Guantánamo on Jan. 5, 2022, when it had been open for 7,300 days.

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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

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.

As we approach a grim anniversary that all decent people hoped would never arrive — the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay — I’m taking part in a number of events to mark the anniversary — mostly online, although a few are carefully organized live events — along with Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign ten years ago. We are also both available for interviews and media appearances.

Yesterday, the prison had been open for 7,300 days, and as I noted in a message to President Biden, to accompany his photo as part of our ongoing poster campaign, “How did this happen? It’s nearly a year since you took office, and yet you have only released one prisoner, even though 13 others — out of the 39 men still held — have been approved for release by high-level U.S. government review processes. Eight of these men have been approved for release since you took office, and yet none of them have been freed. Approving men for release means nothing unless they are actually freed.”

As I also explained, “In six days’ time, Guantánamo will have been open for 20 years. This is a truly shameful anniversary, and yet, despite making noises about wanting to close the prison, you and your administration have done nothing to demonstrate that you actually mean it. Please show some courage. Release the men approved for release, and announce how you intend to close the prison once and for all.”

Saturday January 8, 2022

12.30-2.30pm GMT: “20 Years of Guantánamo: Close It Now!”
I’ll be speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square at 2pm with former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, John McDonnell MP, Imam Sulaiman Ghani and Kate Hudson, the Chair of CND. Prior to that, at 12.30pm, there will be a socially distanced march of 39 hooded activists in jumpsuits from the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square. The event is organized by the Guantánamo Network (Amnesty International, Close Guantánamo, Guantánamo Justice Campaign, London Guantánamo Campaign and Freedom from Torture).
Because of the current Covid situation, anyone wishing to take part in the march must be invited, although the rally is a public event. To be involved, please email Sara Birch, the convenor of the Guantánamo Network.

The poster for the Guantánamo protest in London on Jan. 8, 2022.

In the evening, at 6.30 pm GMT, Omar Deghayes is one of seven former prisoners taking part in “Guantánamo: 20 Years On”, organized by CAGE. The other former prisoners are Moazzam Begg, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Omar Khadr, Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Errachidi and Mansoor Adayfi, and lawyer Clive Stafford Smith is also taking part.

Tuesday January 11, 2022

10.30-11.30am Eastern Time (3.30-4.30pm GMT): “Guantánamo at Twenty: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?”
An online event hosted by New America, featuring Tom Wilner and I, as the co-founders of the Close Guantánamo campaign, and Karen Greenberg, the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. Moderated by Peter Bergen. The event page is here, and registration is here.

12 noon-1pm Eastern Time (5pm-6pm GMT): “President Biden: Why is Guantánamo still open? 20 Years Later and Still No Justice”
Tom Wilner will be speaking at this live rally outside the White House organized by Witness Against Torture and other groups, and I’ll be phoning in from the UK. People from outside the area are encouraged not to attend in person because of the current Covid situation, but the event will be livestreamed on WAT’s Facebook page. The event page is here, and also see WAT’s post about other anniversary events.

2pm Eastern Time (7pm GMT): “Disrupt, Confront and Close Guantánamo: 20th Anniversary Virtual Rally”
I’ll be speaking at this online rally whose organizers include Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Witness Against Torture. The Facebook page is here, and please register here.

4pm-6pm Eastern Time (9pm-11pm GMT): “Close Guantánamo NOW: 20 Years Too Long”, New York Public Library, 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, New York
By phone from London, I’ll be joining this live protest, organized by the World Can’t Wait, featuring Nancy Hollander (Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s attorney), Debra Sweet (the World Can’t Wait’s Director), Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture, and attorney and writer Seth Farber. The Facebook page is here.

And here are some other anniversary events taking place:

Sunday January 9, 4pm Eastern Time: “Remembering Guantánamo: Reflections from a Former Muslim Prisoner and the Muslim Chaplain”
Former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi in conversation with former Chaplain James Yee, in an online event hosted by Witness Against Torture. Moderated by Maha Hilal. The Facebook page for the event, including registration details, is here.

Monday January 10, 5.30pm CST (6.30pm Eastern Time): “Guantánamo Turns Twenty: Mansoor Adayfi in conversation with Antonio Aiello, Patricia Bronte, Marc Falkoff, and Alta L. Price”
An online event hosted by Pilsen Community Books in Chicago. Patricia Bronte and Marc Falkoff are attorneys who have both represented men held at Guantánamo. The Eventbrite page for the event, with registration details, is here.

Tuesday January 11, 5pm-6pm CET (4pm-5pm GMT): “Guantánamo turns 20: Rupture and Reckoning – Anthology and Online Art Exhibition Launch”
An online event hosted by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, featuring Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Wolfgang Kaleck of ECCHR. The event is also the launch of an anthology, ‘Rupture and Reckoning’, whose contributors include the three speakers, and an online art exhibition. More details and registration here.

Wednesday January 12, 3pm-4:30pm Eastern Time: “Guantánamo, Off the Record: 20 Years in the Fight”
An online event hosted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, with Senior Staff Attorneys Wells Dixon, Omar Farah and Katherine Gallagher, and Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hussain. Moderated by Vince Warren, CCR’s Executive Director. More details and registration here.

For other events, see Witness Against Torture’s events page 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 (and see the latest 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 he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — continues.

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.

Celebrating 1700 Days of my Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The latest photos from Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

If you can, please support ‘The State of London’, which is an entirely reader-supported project, with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

Today marks 1,700 days since I first began posting a photo a day — plus accompanying essays — on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page; photos that were either taken on the day, or were drawn from the photos I’d started taking on bike rides throughout London’s 120 postcodes five years earlier. For anyone keeping count, that means that it’s now 3,526 days since I first set out on my bike to capture the changing face of London.

In the last 1,700 days, my ability to take photos has, I think, improved in general (largely because of the upgrade to my current camera, a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mk. II, in February 2019), and I have also, increasingly, devoted much more time to the essays that accompany each photo. I’m gratified to see that the project has steadily been gaining support, so that I recently welcomed my 5,000th follower.

As I have delved deeper into London’s history on my journeys, and in the research for the photos, I have come to recognize how resilient London is as a city, despite having lost so much in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and in the German bombing raids in World War II. Nevertheless, as I realized as soon as I began the project in May 2012, it has also recently been invaded, not by fire, or by a wartime enemy, but by predatory transnational capital, building huge new towers of offices in the City of London, and high-rise residential towers in Canary Wharf and in numerous former industrial sites across the capital (the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area, for example), all eagerly facilitated by conniving politicians and generally supine architects.

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Quarterly Fundraiser for My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’: Can You Help Me Raise £1,000?

The latest photos in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.




 

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s now over four and a half years since I first began to post photos — and accompanying essays — on Facebook, as ‘The State of London’, from the archive of photos that I’d been building up since I first began cycling with a camera and a curious eye throughout London’s 120 postcodes five years before, in May 2012.

This has, from the beginning, been a labour of love. No one asked me to do it, and no one was paying me to do it either, but as time has gone on and the project has become more popular (with nearly 5,000 followers now on Facebook), I have also devoted more and more time to it — particularly through the research I undertake into the subjects of my photos, and the essays I write to accompany my daily posts, which I know many of you appreciate.

As a result, earlier this year I began posting quarterly fundraisers asking you to make a donation, if you can, to support ‘The State of London.’ If you can help out, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s £5, £10, £20 or more!

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Fundraiser Marking the 9th Anniversary of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Dear friends and supporters of ‘The State of London’,

Today marks the ninth anniversary of when I first set out consciously on my bike, armed with a small Canon compact camera, to take photos on a daily basis of the changing face of London throughout the 241 square miles of the capital’s 120 postcodes, and the fourth anniversary of when I began posting a photo a day on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page, where I also post an essay to accompany each photo. I also post the daily photos on Twitter.

I’ve now posted 1,431 photos on Facebook, where I now have nearly 4,500 followers, as well as the many other people who keep up with the project on my personal Facebook page, and, as the project has evolved, so too have my abilities as a photographer, especially over the last two years and three months since I upgraded to my current camera, the wonderful Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II.

Sadly, I’m currently unable to celebrate this particular milestone on my bike, as I have strained a muscle in my right leg and am encouraging myself to remain largely immobile until it has healed, but in general I’ve been out and about most days over the last nine years, and since I began posting daily photos on Facebook, the demands of the project mean that, in addition to the time spent cycling, I also spend one or two hours researching the photo of the day and writing the text to accompany it, posting the photos and responding to comments.

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Please Make A Donation to Support My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos – posted one a day – in Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Dear friends and supporters of ‘The State of London’,

It’s nearly nine years since I first set off on my bike to record London in photos on daily trips through the 241 square miles of the capital’s 120 postcodes — and nearly four years since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook, where I also post an accompanying essay to accompany each photo, and on Twitter.

At the time of writing, I’ve posted 1,350 photos on Facebook, and I’m delighted to note that the Facebook page currently has 4,250 followers, as well as the many other people who keep up with the project on my personal Facebook page.

I’m grateful for all the interest — and the wonderful supportive comments that I receive on a gratifyingly regular basis — but today I’d like to ask you, if you are able, to make a donation to support ‘The State of London’, as I have no financial backing whatsoever, and I’m relying on you to keep me going.

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Covid, Ghost Cities and the Collapse of Property Prices in the West End and the City of London

An almost entirely deserted Oxford Circus on November 10, 2020, during the latest Covid lockdown in England. A previously unpublished photo from Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and photographer. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Is this how the world as we know it ends, then — not with a bang, or even a whimper, but with the slow, silent death of shops, pubs, restaurants and live culture?

England’s second Covid lockdown, introduced on November 5 in response to rising infection rates, has, in a crucial pre-Christmas month for business, shut down all shops regarded as “non-essential” — in other words, to name just a few examples, all clothes shops, gift shops and bookshops, as well as pubs and restaurants — with a sense of timing that could lead one to conclude that it was dictated by Amazon and other online retailers for whom Covid has seen their businesses reap unprecedented profits.

The cost of this, in terms of businesses shutting down, and employees laid off, is not yet known, but it seems likely that, as 2021 unfolds, the centres of our cities and towns will be wastelands, reminiscent of the early 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

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3,000 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

Some of the most recent photos from ‘The State of London’ on Facebook, where I post a photo a day from eight years of photos taken on bike rides around the capital.

Check out all ‘The State of London’ photos here!

Please feel free to support my work on ‘The State of London’, for which I have no institutional funding. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

My photo-journalism project ’The State of London’ has just reached a noteworthy milestone — 3,000 days since I first consciously went out on my bike, on May 11, 2012, to cycle around London taking photos to chronicle the fabric of London and the many changes wrought upon it, beginning with the upheaval that attended the capital’s role as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games. I began posting a photo a day on Facebook on the fifth anniversary of that first trip, on May 11, 2017, and have been posting a photo a day for the 1,176 days since.

In the eight years since, I have taken many tens of thousands of photos, covering all 120 of London’s postcodes in the 241 square miles of the London postal district (those beginning EC, WC, W, NW, N, E, SE and SW), with a particular focus on central London — the City (EC1 to EC4) and the West End (WC1, WC2 and W1), and the immediate surrounding postcodes (SE1, SW1, NW1, N1 and E1) — and with other clusters of repeated activity in the whole of south east London, where I live, in east London, most readily accessed via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and in parts of south west London — particularly, it seems, Brixton, Vauxhall and Battersea and Chelsea — and west London; especially Paddington, Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove.

These 3,000 days have not only been a way of keeping physically fit; they have also played a major role in ensuring some sort of mental equilibrium amidst the general chaos of the state of the world — even if some aspects of ‘The State of London’ have added to my sense of rage rather than placating it; in particular, the colossal and colossally expensive construction projects that have transformed the city to an alarming degree over the last eight years.

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COVID-19 and the Economic Meltdown: Was Global Tourism the Only Thing Keeping Us Afloat?

Grounded planes in Alabama, March 25, 2020 (Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters).

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

Three months since the arrival of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented lockdown on human interaction and on huge swathes of our economy, the primary objective — preventing our hospitals and morgues from being overwhelmed — has been achieved. The cost — economically, and, in some cases, psychologically — has been enormous, but the road ahead, as those in charge attempt to revive a functioning economy, looks like it will be even more arduous.

No congratulations should be extended to Boris Johnson and his government for the achievements of the lockdown. Johnson dithered for far too long at the beginning of the crisis, and the deaths of tens of thousands of people are, as a result, his responsibility, although not his responsibility alone, as the last few months have also shown us that, sadly, this empty windbag of a Prime Minister is largely manipulated by his senior adviser, the sneering eugenicist Dominic Cummings.

Both men were initially prepared to allow the virus to spread unchecked throughout the entire population, with people required to “take it on the chin”, as they let it “move through the population”, as Johnson explained in a now notorious TV appearance. It was only when medical experts pointed out the potential death toll of the “herd immunity” scenario that the lockdown began, following similar conclusions that were, in most other countries, reached rather earlier in the virus’s spread.

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Lockdown Fundraiser: Seeking $2500 (£2000) to Support My Guantánamo Work and My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2020, the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening, and a section of photos from the coronavirus lockdown in London, as featured on Andy’s Facebook page ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2,500 (£2,000) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo over the next three months of the Trump administration, and/or for my London photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Dear friends and supporters,

Every three months I ask you, if you can, to support my ongoing journalism and activism — mostly on Guantánamo — and my photo-journalism, via my project ‘The State of London’, for which I have no institutional backing. As a very modern version of a freelance journalist, I’m reliant on you, my supporters, to support my work via donations if you like what I do and are able to help.

This is a long-standing arrangement, and it largely arose because there was no room for someone like me in the mainstream media, which didn’t want an expert on Guantánamo writing relentlessly about the prison, the men held there, and why it needs to be closed, and who, in general, dismiss people who are relentlessly dedicated to important causes as “activists” rather than journalists. This is a distinction that I don’t find valid, which serves to largely sideline writers who burn with indignation at injustices in favour of those who embrace “objectivity” — and sadly it tends only to end up supporting the status quo.

On Guantanamo, I have doggedly sought its closure for 14 years now, and have no intention of giving up while it remains open, because its very existence is such a legal, ethical and moral abomination. Your support for my relentless persistence regarding this hugely important but almost entirely forgotten topic is very greatly appreciated.

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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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The Guantánamo Files

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The Battle of the Beanfield

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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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