The Long Struggle To Save Former Prisoner Ravil Mingazov From A Fate Worse Than Guantánamo — Seven Years’ Arbitrary Imprisonment in the UAE

Yusuf Mingazov, the son of Ravil Mingazov, outside the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in London on September 16, 2023 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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On Saturday, I was honoured to stand with the family of former Guantánamo prisoner Ravil Mingazov outside the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in London to call on the Emirati government to free him from the arbitrary detention to which he has been subjected for the last six years and eight months, following his transfer there, on the basis of grotesquely betrayed promises that he would be helped to rebuild his life and to be reunited with his family, after over 14 years’ imprisonment without charge or trial in Guantánamo.

Around 25 people gathered outside the publicly located but thoroughly inaccessible embassy in Belgravia, whose officials’ disdain for any complaints about the Emirati authorities is such that no one even deigned to answer the door when Ravil’s son Yusuf, his mother, his aunt and uncle and his cousin sought to hand in a letter urging his release. Nevertheless, we made our presence felt, and Yusuf and I both spoke (and you can see the video of my speech below), as did a representative of the UK Guantánamo Network (of which I’m also a member), which had organised the protest with the Muslim NGO CAGE.

It was an inspiring event — one of those where the solidarity of those present, and the charm and humanity of Ravil’s relatives came together to create exactly the kind of fortitude and determination that is required to prevail in circumstances of chronic injustice like that to which Ravil has been subjected for over 20 years, and I look forward to reconvening sometime soon outside the Home Office, where the home secretary Suella Braverman needs to be reminded of what mercy, kindness and generosity look like.

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Hatred of Dissent: Reviewing Four Decades of Repressive Tory Laws on the 38th Anniversary of the Battle of the Beanfield

Police swarm the last bus at the Battle of the Beanfield.

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38 years ago, on June 1, 1985, a convoy of vehicles carrying what the photographer Alan Lodge described as “a small, mild mannered bunch of people” — around 550 men, women and children, generally described at the time as New Age Travellers — was ambushed and “decommissioned” with extraordinary violence by around 1,4000 police from six countries and the Ministry of Defence, in what has become known as the Battle the Beanfield — although, as I stated in my article marking this horrendous event last year, “‘battle’ suggests the presence of two more or less equal parties engaged in conflict, when what actually took place was a one-sided rout of heartbreaking brutality.”

The convoy was hoping to reach Stonehenge, to establish what would have been the 12th annual free festival in fields opposite the ancient temple on Salisbury Plain, which had grown, by 1984, into an anarchic settlement that welcomed tens of thousands of visitors throughout the whole of June. An injunction had been served, intended to prevent anyone from reaching Stonehenge, and from the summer before travellers, environmental protestors and festival-goers had been harassed and assaulted from Yorkshire to RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire, where a peace camp, echoing the famous Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, had been established to resist the planned introduction of a second US cruise missile base on UK soil until it was evicted in February 1985 in the largest peace-time action involving British troops, led by the then-defence secretary Michael Heseltine.

Undeterred, however, the convoy had set off for Stonehenge from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire on June 1, but soon met with trouble. After the police blocked the road seven miles from Stonehenge, and officers began smashing the windows of stationary vehicles and the occupants were ”dragged out screaming”, as Tony Thompson explained in an article for the Observer in 2005, the majority of the convoy sought to avoid the violence by driving into a nearby beanfield.

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Radio: I Discuss the Coronation, the Tories’ Suppression of Peaceful Protest and Criminalization of Refugees, Plus the Latest on Guantánamo, With Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

A new flag for the UK in 2023, under Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister and Suella Braverman as home secretary.

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For many years, I’ve been honored to be regularly invited to discuss my ongoing work on Guantánamo, as well as many other political concerns of mine, on Gorilla Radio, run by Chris Cook in Victoria, Canada, which is “dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.”

Chris’s latest show is here (or here as an MP3), and our interview took place in the second half of the hour-long program, after an interview with whistleblowing activist Ashley Gjøvik, following the publication of her article “Whistleblowers Are the Conscience of Society, Yet Suffer Gravely For Trying to Hold the Rich and Powerful Accountable For Their Sins,” published by Covert Action Magazine.

I’ve also embedded the show below:

The trigger for Chris’s interview with me was the Coronation, last Saturday, of King Charles III, which I covered in a post as part of my ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’, and also recorded a song about, entitled, “You’re Not My King,” also embedded below:

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Marking 11 Years of ‘The State of London’, An Appeal for £1000 to Support My Unique Photo-Journalism Project For the Next Three Months

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

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

Every three months I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my unique, reader-funded photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’, which has just reached 6,200 followers on Facebook, and has over 1,550 followers on Twitter. As I have no institutional backing whatsoever, I’m entirely dependent on your generosity to enable me to continue this project, which takes up a considerable amount of otherwise entirely unpaid time.

If you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s £10, £20, £50 or more!

You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make this a monthly donation,” and filling in the amount you wish to donate every month. If you are able to do so, a regular, monthly donation would be very much appreciated.

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How Brexit Gave Us Vile, Broken Politicians Who Despise Human Rights and Seek to Criminalise Refugees: Part Two

The home secretary Suella Braverman laughing hysterically, and entirely inappropriately, during a visit to the UK’s proposed “migrant camp” in Rwanda yesterday, March 18, 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seemingly emerging from a coffin while announcing the Tory government’s shameful ‘Stop the Boats’ policy on March 7, 2023, and then-home secretary Priti Patel smirking at a press conference in Rwanda, announcing the Rwanda plan, on April 14, 2022.

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The second of two articles in which I examine how the Tory government’s vile anti-immigration policies, pursued with such vigour by Priti Patel and Suella Braverman, have their origins in the dangerous isolationism of Brexit, and its unleashing of false and disturbing notions that, post-Brexit, the UK should no longer be constrained by international law. In this first article, I looked at how Brexit happened, how Theresa May paved the way for the shoddy and cruel lawlessness of Patel and Braverman, and how the Tories, even before Brexit, consistently sought to undermine the European Convention on Human Rights, with a particular focus on Theresa May’s obsessive pursuit of the Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada. (See Part One here).

Ruthlessly self-seeking and, morally, a complete vacuum, Boris Johnson swept to power in December 2019 by following the populists’ playbook established by Donald Trump — a three- or four-word slogan, hammered home at every opportunity. For Trump it was ‘Make America Great Again’, while for Johnson it was ‘Get Brexit Done’, delivered despite the evident impossibility of getting it done without consigning us to relentless economic decline and international irrelevance.

While Johnson’s dithering over Covid, his persistent lying and his corruption (not least in fast-tracking billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to cronies during the Covid lockdowns for services that they were patently unable to provide) defined his Premiership, what must not be overlooked is the extent to which he also empowered the far right of the Conservative Party in their rabid enthusiasm for a post-Brexit bonfire of fundamental rights.

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Under Rishi Sunak, the UK’s Fourth Tory Brexit Government, Already Obsessed with Austerity, Is Doomed to Fail

How the Daily Mirror, on its front page, responded to the news that Rishi Sunak had been chosen as the latest Prime Minister by Tory MPs.

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In the ongoing farce that is Britain’s Tory government, we now have our third Prime Minister in seven weeks — Rishi Sunak, the first Asian to hold the top job, but also the richest PM in British history, with a £730 million fortune via his marriage to Akshata Murty. The daughter of the Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, who founded the technology company Infosys, she has a 0.91% stake in the company, which constitutes most of the Sunak family’s wealth. Sunak himself was a banker from 2001 until his election in 2015, working first for Goldman Sachs, and then for a number of hedge funds.

Promoted to the role of Chancellor under Boris Johnson, Sunak is credited with successfully preventing a total meltdown of the economy during the Covid lockdowns, primarily through the furlough scheme for workers, although, to be honest, any Chancellor in place at the time would have had to do the same. Defeated by Liz Truss in the leadership campaign in the summer, he is now seen as a credible leader by the majority of Tory MPs who backed him over the last week — many, no doubt, pressurised to do so to prevent the choice of leader going back to the untrustworthy Party members who elected Truss — instead of the other contenders, Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson, who somehow thought that he could miraculously return from the political grave into which he had dug himself.

Nevertheless, the painful truth for Sunak is that no one — not even the 81,326 Tory Party members who voted for Liz Truss — voted for him, and it will be hard for him to claim any kind of popular mandate as a result. Hopefully, the calls for a General Election that increased throughout Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership will not fall away now that Truss has gone, because the only way for Sunak to genuinely claim any legitimacy is to ask the public to support him — and not merely to claim that the result of an election nearly three years ago, fought solely on Boris Johnson’s risible claim that he would ‘Get Brexit Done’, has any relevance.

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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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