Close Guantánamo: Our Achievements in 2023, Marking Guantánamo’s 22nd Anniversary on Jan. 11, and What We Can Do in 2024

Photos from the coordinated global vigils for the closure of Guantánamo on Wednesday June 7, 2023. Clockwise, from top L, London, Washington, D.C., Brussels and Detroit.

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.

Thanks to everyone who took part in events marking the 22nd anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 11 — via the 20 vigils for the prison’s closure that took place across the US and around the world, via our ongoing photo campaign, for which over 120 people sent in photos of themselves with a poster marking 8,036 days of the prison’s existence on January 11, and calling for its closure, and via a number of online events.

One of these events was an online panel discussion, hosted by the New America think-tank in Washington, D.C., at which I was joined by the eloquent former prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, who, until recently, was the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism.

Last year, Fionnuala became the first UN Rapporteur to visit the prison, subsequently producing what I described at the time as “a devastatingly critical report about systemic, historic and ongoing human rights abuses at the prison,” in which she concluded that, despite some improvements to the regime under Presidents Obama and Biden, the totality of ongoing conditions at the prison amounts to “ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” which, in certain cases, “may also meet the legal threshold for torture.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Guantánamo at 22 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Andy Worthington at New America

A screenshot of “Guantánamo at Twenty-Two: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?”, hosted by New America on January 11, 2024.

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.





 

On January 11, the 22nd anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, I was delighted to take part in an online panel discussion, “Guantánamo at Twenty-Two: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?”, hosted by New America, the US think-tank located close to the White House in Washington, D.C.

I’ve been taking part in annual panel discussions about Guantánamo at New America since 2011, normally with Tom Wilner, the US attorney with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign in 2012, but this year Tom wasn’t available, and I was pleased that my suggestions for two compelling replacements — former prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of the best-selling Guantánamo Diary, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism — were met with enthusiasm.

The moderator was Peter Bergen, New America’s Vice President, and the video, via YouTube, is posted below. It was a powerful event, and I hope that you have time to watch it, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photos and Report: The Latest Parliamentary Meeting on Guantánamo and an Amnesty Event I Chaired with Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Mansoor Adayfi

Photos from the second meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Closure of the Guantánamo Detention Facility, in the Houses of Parliament on June 26, 2023, and of ‘Life at Guantánamo: writing behind bars’, at Amnesty International’s London headquarters on June 28, 2023.

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.





 

Last week was another good week for Guantánamo activity in the UK — on the part of politicians, former prisoners, lawyers and activists — as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Closure of the Guantánamo Detention Facility held its second meeting, and Amnesty International hosted an event at its London HQ about former prisoners’ memoirs, and the power of writing.

On Monday June 26 — the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture — the second meeting of the APPG for Guantánamo’s closure took place in the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), following the inaugural meeting in May, which I wrote about here.

That meeting featured former prisoners Mohamedou Ould Slahi, visiting from his home in the Netherlands, and his former guard Steve Wood, visiting from the US, and for this second meeting Mohamedou made a return visit, joined this time by another former prisoner, the British citizen Moazzam Begg, who introduced the members of the APPG to Yusuf Mingazov, the son of another former prisoner, Ravil Mingazov.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guantánamo in London: Parliamentary Meeting on June 26, Amnesty Event on June 28

A collage featuring former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi and various Guantánamo protests.

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.





 

In May, I reported on the inaugural meeting of the brand-new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Closing the Guantánamo Detention Facility in the Houses of Parliament, attended by six MPs and peers — Chris Law (SNP), who chaired the meeting, and is the co-chair of the APPG, John McDonnell (Lab.), Baroness Helena Kennedy (Lab.), Sir Peter Bottomley (Con.), Richard Burgon (Lab.) and Rachael Maskell (Lab.) —which was also attended by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, former Guantánamo prisoner and author of the best-selling Guantánamo Diary, and his former guard Steve Wood.

On Monday June 26 — coincidentally, and fortuitously, the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture — the APPG will be holding its second meeting, when it will formally announce its aims, and when Mohamedou will be visiting once again, with another former prisoner, Mansoor Adayfi, the author of another compelling memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo, also scheduled to attend, travelling from Serbia (where he was resettled in 2016) in what will be his first visit to the UK since securing a passport a few months ago.

Khandan Lolaki-Noble, who arranged Mohamedou and Steve’s visit in April, and also organized screenings of the feature film ‘The Mauritanian’, dramatising Mohamedou’s story, is organising Mansoor’s trip, and has set up a fundraiser to pay for it, via JustGiving. If you can help out at all, please do. At the time of writing, £821 of the target of £1,500 has been raised.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photos and Report: Guantánamo in the UK – A New Parliamentary Group Meets, and Mohamedou Ould Slahi Visits

Photos from the Guantánamo events in the UK from April 24-28,2023, featuring Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Steve Wood: the APPG in Parliament, and screenings of ‘The Mauritanian’ in Buckinghamshire and Brighton.

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.





 

Last week was a big week for Guantánamo activism in the UK, as the inaugural meeting of the brand-new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Closing the Guantánamo Detention Facility took place in the Houses of Parliament, attended by former prisoner and best-selling author Mohamedou Ould Slahi and his former guard Steve Wood, who then, in the following days, attended three screenings of ‘The Mauritanian’, Kevin Macdonald’s feature film about Mohamedou, followed by Q&A sessions in which I was also involved.

The inaugural meeting of the APPG was attended by six MPs and peers — Chris Law (SNP), who chaired the meeting, and is the co-chair of the APPG, John McDonnell (Lab.), Baroness Helena Kennedy (Lab.), Sir Peter Bottomley (Con.), Richard Burgon (Lab.) and Rachael Maskell (Lab.).

Layla Moran (Lib Dem) is the other co-chair of the APPG, but was unable to attend because of other pressing commitments, although her assistant Emilia Harvey was there to represent her. All were voted in as officers of the APPG.

Read the rest of this entry »

All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Closure of Guantánamo Holds Inaugural Meeting in UK Parliament, April 24, 2023 with Mohamedou Ould Slahi

The UK Houses of Parliament and the prison at Guantánamo Bay.

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.





 

On Monday April 24, at 5.30pm, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Closing of the Guantánamo Detention Facility will be holding its inaugural meeting in Committee Room 19 of the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament). Members of the public are welcome, but the room only holds a maximum of 40 people. If you want to attend, please enter by the Cromwell Green entrance from 3.45pm onwards. Campaigners, myself included, will be in the Palace of Westminster’s cafe from 4pm.

The co-chairs of the new APPG are Layla Moran MP (Liberal Democrat) and Chris Law MP (SNP), and other MPs include Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative), Caroline Lucas (Green) and the Labour MPs John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Rachael Maskell and Andy Slaughter. Peers include Sayeeda Warsi (Conservative) and the Labour peers Helena Kennedy, Shami Chakrabarti and John Hendy.

At this inaugural meeting, as a press release from Amnesty International UK explains, “the group of MPs and peers will hear an update on the current situation at Guantánamo, which still holds 30 detainees, 16 of them cleared for release but still detained.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Guantánamo In Its 22nd Year: “The US Created a Category of Prisoners With No Rights Whatsoever”

Witness Against Torture campaigners outside the US Congress in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2023, the 21st anniversary of the opening of the prison.

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.

For more years than we care to remember, campaigners for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay have met in Washington, D.C., on and around January 11, the anniversary of its opening (in 2002), to call for its closure.

Although a coalition of groups have been involved in these annual protests — including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture — the protests’ beating heart has always been Witness Against Torture, founded in 2005 by 25 Catholic Workers. The Catholic Worker Movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, whose Christian anarchism, as it has been described, is focused on “liv[ing] in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ,” with “no place for economic exploitation or war,” and no “racial, gender or religious discrimination.”

The 25 founding members of Witness Against Torture, including Frida Berrigan, Matt Daloisio and Art Laffin, who are still involved today, visited Cuba in December 2005, raising publicity as they bravely attempted to visit Guantánamo, and on their return they began organizing with other groups, including CCR, protesting at the White House, and other key locations — the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Justice Department — and sometimes getting arrested.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: ‘Guantánamo Voices’ on Resonance FM, Featuring Sarah Mirk, Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Me, and Music by The Four Fathers

A banner image produced by Alex Fitch for his show ‘Guantánamo Voices’, broadcast on London’s arts-based radio station Resonance FM.

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’m delighted to promote a one-hour show, ‘Guantánamo Voices’, produced by comics journalist and broadcaster Alex Fitch for Resonance FM, the London-based non-profit community radio station, specializing in the arts.

The show is based on two interviews and one recording of an event — interviews with myself, discussing Guantánamo’s history, recorded last week to mark the 21st anniversary of the opening of the prison, and with comics creator Sarah Mirk, whose wonderful graphic novel anthology, ‘Guantánamo Voices’, was published by Abrams in 2020. I reviewed it here, and was also thrilled to be featured in a comic about Guantánamo that was written by Sarah and published in The Nib in 2018.

The event recorded by Alex, featuring former prisoner and author Mohamedou Ould Slahi and myself, took place at the University of Brighton in March last year, during Mohamedou’s first UK speaking tour, which I wrote about here when I first met him, after years of writing about him, and campaigning for his release. Please also see the video here of a Q&A featuring both of us in Tunbridge Wells, following a screening of ‘The Mauritanian’, the feature film based on Mohamedou’s story, directed by Kevin Macdonald, and also feel free to check out my article about the screening and the tour here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Video: “Guantánamo Diary Revisited” – Q&A with Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Director John Goetz and Andy Worthington

The flier for the online screening of “Guantánamo Diary Revisited,” made available by its distributors in the US and Canada, Cinema Libre Studio, as a fundraiser for Andy Worthington’s work, followed by a Q&A with Mohamedou Ould Slahi, director John Goetz, and Andy. In the film, Goetz assists Slahi in tracking down some of those involved in his torture, the intention being to invite them to tea, and to let them know that he has forgiven everyone responsible for his torture.

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.





 

Two weeks ago, Cinema Libre Studio, in Los Angeles, generously allowed the documentary film “Guantánamo Diary Revisited“, for which they are the distributor in the US and Canada, to be shown in an online screening as a fundraiser for my ongoing work on Guantánamo (via my website here, and also via the Close Guantánamo campaign), and I’m pleased to report that it raised several hundred dollars to support my work.

Directed by the journalist John Goetz, the film follows former Guantánamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi (aka Salahi), as, with the help of Goetz, he tracks down some of those responsible for his torture, meeting with a variety of responses, ranging from guilt to denial, which makes for a very powerful documentary.

The film is available on DVD, and also via a number of streaming services, and if you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll find the opportunity to do so, as it provides a unique insight into the mentality of those who were on the front line of implementing torture at Guantánamo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Q&A with Mohamedou Ould Salahi, Kevin Macdonald, Nancy Hollander and I at Screening of ‘The Mauritanian’ in Tunbridge Wells

A screenshot of the Q&A at Tunbridge Wells on March 20, 2022, following a screening of ‘The Mauritanian’ at the Trinity Theatre.

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.





 

Last month, I was privileged to take part in a number of events during the first ever UK speaking tour by former Guantánamo prisoner and torture victim Mohamedou Ould Salahi (aka Slahi), which was arranged by my friend Bernard Sullivan and his niece Oriel, in which the author of the acclaimed memoir “Guantánamo Diary” brought his extraordinary message of forgiveness to Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Chatham House and the LSE in London, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and a peace centre in Somerset. Mohamedou’s tour culminated in a visit to the Houses of Parliament, where he addressed a number of supportive MPs and peers, and had the distinction of being the first non-British former Guantánamo prisoner to be welcomed into the Palace of Westminster.

As I have previously reported, I met Mohamedou for the very first time at the Chatham House event. I had already taken part in a number of online events with him, so I knew of his charisma, his winning smile and his wicked sense of humour, but, meeting him in person, it was also impossible not to recognize how the torture to which he was subjected continues to haunt him. Like an unsettled day in which the sun breaks out, illuminating everything with warmth and radiance, only for dark clouds to then obscure it, suddenly bringing darkness and cold, Mohamedou alternates between extraordinary sociability and silent seriousness behind which the ghosts that continue to dog him are evidently still at play.

The Chatham House event, on March 10, was my first opportunity to see Mohamedou’s mesmerising effect on audiences, and it was followed, as were all his speaking events, by attendees queuing up to buy copies of  “Guantánamo Diary”, and to have them signed by Mohamedou, as he engaged with them and brought them directly into his world for a few moments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back to home page

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).
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

The Four Fathers on Bandcamp

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

The State of London

The State of London. 16 photos of London

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Abu Zubaydah Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners Center for Constitutional Rights CIA torture prisons Close Guantanamo Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Housing crisis Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer The Four Fathers Torture UK austerity UK protest US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo