The story of Shaker Aamer and Guantanamo

The prolonged campaign for the release of Battersea resident Shaker Aamer, a Guantanamo Bay military prison inmate, resulted in success. It is now five years to the day since he was released from prison after serving 13 years without charge or trial. We have followed the case of Shaker Aamer in detail since the completion of Outside The Law: Stories from Guantanamo in 2009 up to his arrival at Biggin Hill airport on 31st October 2015. Here are all our Guantanamo campaign videos which chronicle the series of events surrounding this story of injustice.

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

Documentary telling the story of Guantánamo, extraordinary rendition and secret prisons, focusing on the stories of three prisoners, Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and Omar Deghayes.

It examines how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, rounding up prisoners in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for large bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism; for example as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers. Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (still detained. November 2009), Binyam Mohamed (released, February 2009) and Omar Deghayes (released, December 2007).

The documentary provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.

The film contains interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes) lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

“Outside the Law is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten” – Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK

February 2012 – Tuesday 14th marked 10th anniversary of Shaker’s detention, which was marked in England by a series of protests, and in Guantanamo by a hunger strike.

Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice

Also available in Spanish here

Spectacle has made this short film about Shaker Aamer to mark the 10th anniversary of his incarceration.

Shaker Aamer was one of the 171 men held in detention in Guantanamo Bay. Despite never having had a trial, having been approved for release twice, and a growing number of people from all walks of life campaigning for him, Shaker was remained in detention (released from prison on 30th October 2015). His physical and mental health deterioration is a prevalent concern. During the 10 years that Shaker Aamer has been incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, he’s has never been charged, and he has never denied his innocence. He has continuously lobbied for the welfare of other Guantanamo inmates from within the system. Many believe that this, and his potential as a witness to U.S. human rights abuses, are the reasons he still remains captive.

Through conversations with activists and former detainees; the film paints a picture of who Shaker Aamer is, the injustices he has endured and what his life has involved for the last decade. From Bagram and Guanatanamo Bay prisons, to the unknown dark prisons throughout the world, Shaker Aamer’s story illustrates the lengths to which the U.S. and U.K. governments will go to justify their despicable War on Terror.

Shaker Aamer, time is running out.

The Shaker Aamer Campaign held a protest vigil for Shaker Aamer on Wednesday April 9th 2014 in Parliament Square to bring him home.

Not another day in Guantánamo

London Guantanamo Campaign Demonstration in Trafalgar square on May 23rd 2014. Interview with Aisha Maniar, London Guantanamo Campaigner and organizer of the event, and Noel Hammel, Chair of Kingston Peace Council.

Eleven years in Guantanamo

This video is an interview with the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith about Shaker Aamer.

Shaker Aamer finally released from Guantanamo

Video interview on the day of his release with Shaker’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, founder/director of justice charity Reprieve at Biggin Hill airport.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice (New Version) and Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Or visit our Guantánamo project and Shaker Aamer project pages for more information and videos.

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L&Q lockout Silwood Youth Club

Jacqueline Willis Silwood resident and Ola Walker local youth worker expressed their frustration and hurt after L&Q housing association, current managers of the Lewington Community Centre, cancelled the youth club at short notice. The day before L&Q had cancelled the Zumba class again at very short notice, which sparked a resident sit down.

L&Q have a history of last-minute cancellations of community events including the residents’ Christmas Party. Fortunately, they were given permission to throw the Christmas party, but not without causing distress and anxiety to the community event organisers and the caterers. As the Christmas party drew nearer, they were still in the dark about the availability of the centre.

The Lewington Community Centre, promised under the regeneration of the Silwood estate to serve and be managed by the Silwood neighbourhood has become simply an “asset” of L&Qs portfolio of properties- it is rented out most of the time to Morley College.

These community events were cancelled at extremely short notice, just a few hours before the events were meant to begin. This was particularly unfortunate on the day that they were supposed to hold a youth club event for minors, as it posed a child protection issue when the building closed and they had nowhere to go.

L&Q offer no real explanation for the cancellations. They cite staff shortages but there is no reason for the community not to be keyholders. If they had been keyholders none of the events would have needed to be cancelled.

L&Q seem determined not to allow members of the community-led Lewington Community Centre Management Community (LCCMM) to be keyholders. Indeed L&Q appear to resist any attempt by the community to organise and run their own centre as they were promised they would under the Section 106 agreement. Before the “regeneration” of the estate the community happily and efficiently ran their own centre.

El documental “The truth lies in Rostock” también doblado al castellano.

Ubicado en la antigua República Democrática Alemana RDA, en el distrito de Lichtenhagen, “The truth lies in Rostock” narra los episodios acontecidos entre el 24 y el 25 de agosto de 1992, cuando un grupo de extrema derecha atacó la residencia de un grupo de trabajadores vietnamitas.

Este pogromo tan significativo en la historia del neofascismo de posguerra pasó a la posteridad, no tanto por la agresividad y la gratuidad de la violencia infligida por los manifestantes, si no por la pasividad y la complicidad de sus vecinos. La mayoría de éstos no sólo se hicieron partícipes de ello  no interviniendo sino que además alentaron y animaron a los neonazis a llevar a cabo tales actos vandálicos, proporcionándoles el valor necesario con el cual acabaron prendiéndole fuego al edificio.

El centro de acogida de Mecklemburgo-Pomerania Occidental (Número 18 de la calle Mecklenburg), conocido como ZAst, por sus siglas originales (Zentrale Aufnahmestelle fur Asylbewerber fur) o Sonnenblumenhaus (La casa de los girasoles) como era conocida por los dibujos de su fachada fue la diana de su ira. Fundado en 1991, era el mayor centro al noroeste de Alemania donde se registraban las peticiones de asilo, hasta que éstas pasaban a ser tramitadas por el Estado en un desesperadamente lento proceso burocrático.

El primer claro aviso de un ataque fascista en Lichtenhagen se produjo cuatro días antes, el 21 de agosto, a través de una llamada anónima al Ostsee Zeitung, un periódico local. Hubo advertencias anónimas de que si el fin de semana no se “limpiaba” el refugio ellos se encargarían de hacerlo. Sin embargo nadie dio la voz de alarma ni en la redacción ni en el ayuntamiento, alegando que el mensaje no era lo suficientemente concreto como para crear un dispositivo de alerta.

De todas maneras, una vez empezaron los altercados, y ante las innegables evidencias de que la tensión iba a estallar de la peor manera, El Sonnenblumenhaus fue desalojado. Lejos de reprimir sus quejas, los manifestantes volcaron su rabia sobre el edificio contiguo, hogar de 115 vietnamitas. Afortunadamente, y tal y como puede verse en el documental, no hubo que lamentar la muerte de ninguno de ellos, aunque esto no fuera precisamente por la eficiencia del cuerpo policial, cuyo papel se ha considerado a posteriori escaso y deficiente.

“The truth lies in Rostock” alterna el desarrollo de los hechos aquellos días con el testimonio de vecinos, manifestantes (fascistas y antifascistas) y otros tantos colectivos que vivieron en sus carnes la crispación acontecida. En un intento por investigar los hechos y elaborar un análisis de los mismos, Spectacle entrevista a diferentes cargos públicos cuyo papel fue crucial en la toma de decisiones aquellos días. Sin embargo, lejos de entonar el mea culpa, encontramos una serie de acusaciones cruzadas sobre si la gestión del centro recaía sobre unos u otros, así como si éste era competencia del ayuntamiento regional o no, en un lamentable ejercicio de depuración de responsabilidades.

El documental cuenta con la participación de Herr Magdanz, (concejal de asuntos internos del ayuntamiento de Rostock), Peter Magdanz, (Concejal de asuntos internos del Ayto. de Rostock), Siegfried Kordus, (jefe de policía de Rostock hasta el 25 de agosto de 1992), Klaus Kilimann, (alcalde de Rostock), Herr Zoellick, (Concejal de Juventud, Salud y Deportes y sustituto de Klaus Kilimann), Herr Kordus, Jefe de la Policía de Rostock, que estaba al cargo temporalmente, sólo hasta que el nuevo Jefe de la Policía tomara su puesto el día después de los disturbios, Herr Deckert, (asistente del Jefe de Policía. Rostock), y  Lothar Kupfer, (Ministro del Interior de Mecklenburg Vorpommer).

Puede obtener más información en castellano sobre el documental en el catálogo de la página web de Spectacle, donde podrá también encontrar el guión traducido para descargar. Así mismo puede encargar una copia física en castellano o ver el documental en nuestra cuenta de Vimeo en inglés.

Para más información relacionado con el caso de Rostock, puede consultar nuestro blog, donde encontrará diferentes artículos en inglés. 

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Silwood residents sit-down to demand a community centre.

After a series of community events have been cancelled at short notice, when L&Q suddenly announced the Lewington Centre on the Silwood Estate would closed at 5pm- not the scheduled 9pm, it was the final straw, after 20 years of being excluded from their own centre. 

Residents wanted to show that there were people who would be prepared to manage and close the building after 5pm. The women were resident community workers and representatives of residents and tenant groups.

Residents were not asked to leave by L&Q but soon after 5 the police were in the room.

This is not the whole story.

Since the building was open L&Q have resisted all attempts by the community to manage and use their own centre.

This sit down was not just about a zumba class being cancelled. It was the last straw in a 20 year struggle for the community to get the centre “regeneration” promised.

What Silwood residents had pre Regeneration: a mish-mash of community resources, youth clubs, a nursery, a creche, education and training facilities, clubs and groups, council supported and bottom up initiatives effectively run and organised by residents, paid or voluntary. Many were much loved by the community and the residents made the best of what little they had.

What they were promised, the justification for the entire regeneration scheme was a bigger, better, purpose built community centre and facilities.

What they have 20 years on is the “Lewington Centre.” A building L&Q run and refer to as an “asset” and a business. The centre is in fact let out to Morley College most of the week so it is not available for community use.There is nothing “purpose-built” about the Lewington Centre. With 25 flats above the main hall, occupied by key workers, some on night shifts, the building was never suitable for the kind of noisy social  and community events like birthday parties, weddings.  The acoustics have been a constant problem. Just a few teenagers playing table tennis made a deafening noise before expensive sound remediation.

L&Q insisted they had to build the flats above the centre to provide an income stream to make the centre sustainable. Its not clear why the flats needed to be physically located on top of the building given the huge amount of land L&Q were given in the regeneration deal. Without transparency and published accounts it is also not clear what this income, combined with the rental from Morley College and other private hires, is actually spent on. Do L&Q really need to charge the community to use their own hall for social and community events to “cover their overheads”?

The community want some very basic things so they can once again manage their own community resources:

Management of activities and social events at the community centre.

Registered Community key holders.

Recognition of the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC)

Published accounts for Lewington Centre. (required under Section 106)

These are simple demands. It is curious L&Q are so resistant. Why?

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA  for general posts on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
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Chesterton School Mural Repair

In the playground of Chesterton School, Battersea SW11 is a much-loved mural painted by the talented Brian Barnes.

Due to construction work on the school ground, the top part of the mural was damaged and needed repair. Watch our video below of Brian explaining the different panels.

Below is a log written in his own words about the process of repairing the mural. 

“The mural needed repairs because the wall was replaced taking away about 200 sq ft. of the painting equivalent to a quarter of the mural. All above the climbing studs which tended to be the most detailed.

Morgan Paton helped me in the weeks of the summer holidays. The weather was very warm with a very hot day of 38 degrees in the shade but little shade, Morgan made a tarpaulin shelter. We had a few volunteers Omero painted the blue arc on 27th August. Then we also had help from Fraya and Liam. Morgan painting Downe House home of Charles Darwin near Bromley. I painted a new version of the portrait of Darwin from a photo.

We went on Saturday 21st September to complete the repairs having painted for 10 days for 120 hours (not including an extra drawing for the Darwin portrait on paper)”

Brian Barnes is the founder of the Battersea Power Station community group. You can follow the links below for more updated information on the campaign to save the power station.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs, information and videos.

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Silwood Community Centre Management Committee

Before the “regeneration” of the Silwood Estate by Lewisham and L&Q in 2000 the residents successfully ran their own community centre and youth facilities- either voluntarily or employed.

These facilities, the youth club, cyber centre, community hall, under 5s etc were demolished and residents were promised a bigger and better purpose built “Community Centre” to not just replace but improve on what they lost. What followed was a systematic disempowerment of the community. What they got was the L&Q run “Lewington Centre”, a totally unsuitable building that residents struggle to access. L&Q sublet the building to Morley College which is of no benefit to the community and means the building is rarely available for residents to use.

On the 16th of September 2019, the Silwood community held a meeting to form the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC). This meeting symbolises local people of Silwood wanting to come together to improve the facilities of the community and surrounding areas.  

Silwood Community Centre run by L&Q

Historically, the residents successfully ran their own community centre and amenities. Sadly, under the regeneration of the estate, L&Q housing association took control of the new purpose-built community centre that was meant to not just replace but improve the facilities lost. Following the regeneration, L&Q then sub-let the centre to Morley College and the community has felt excluded ever since.

After years of frustration, the establishment of an independent CCMC means the whole community could have their voice heard. In the past L&Q have managed to make promises and not keep them to individuals without being made accountable but now with the strength of the committee, this will happen no more. A significant improvement for the community, as in the past, resident’s concerns about the management of the estate was falling on to deaf ears and there was no one to hold L&Q accountable to fulfil promises made.

Spectacle has been documenting the resident’s struggle since 1999 and continue to do so today. We believe that the injustice done to the residents is unacceptable. By setting up the Silwood video group to document and lobby for a meaningful regeneration, we are working with the community to help bring awareness to the mistreatment of Silwood residents. 

The group has participated in workshops organised by Spectacle and filmed the consultative meetings so they have a personal record.

Rita Edmond, Community Develop Practitioner, in her interview, exclaims,  “we stand together, and we fall together.” which is an attitude that currently illustrates the unity of the Silwood community and their hopes for the future. 

Another interviewee, Pembe Kumbi, Local entrepreneur, said the community has lots of hidden young talent that will be expressed through the use of the community centre. 

There is so much opportunity for Lewington Community Centre to become a hub for people to gather for youth groups and an assortment of classes. Joyce Jacca mentions all sorts of potential uses for the centre if it is allowed to be run by the locals. 

This represents a whole new chapter in the Silwood story that goes to the heart of community empowerment and wellbeing.   

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA  for general posts on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
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Video Production Enhances Research Impact

Are you an academic researcher, PhD student, PostDoc fellow seeking to boost the impact of your research? Do you wish to improve the originality of your research proposals in humanities, science, arts, social sciences? Why not include a video outcome in your funding application?

Video workshop at Sheffield University

Other academics are already using media production to enhance the impact of their research in many ways. Video can be used either to monitor the research process and report research results, or it can be integrated in the research methods as a strategy to collect original data that can be easily analysed and disseminated. Spectacle has long experience in training academic staff in how to achieve quality video outcomes for their investigations.

We have already organised bespoke courses for anthropologists and social researchers of Edinburgh University, Cambridge University, Open University, Social Research Association, Amsterdam University, academic staff at Birkbeck, Comms departments at Oxford University, Cambridge University Press, King’s College as well as the Macular Society. All gave us excellent feedback.

Together with practical skills and confidence, they went away inspired and excited by the potential of incorporating video in their academic work in order to improve the impact of their scientific communications.

We offer a range of options to train you in video making, from weekend courses to three-day participatory video workshop, to bespoke training programmes addressed to staff or research groups.

Please visit our Training page or write to us for quotes and info at training@spectacle.co.uk

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Memories of Battersea – Screening Event

We are pleased to announce that after a few months of filming and collecting stories from Battersea residents, we are ready to screen our project to the public!

Memories of Battersea is a video oral history project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gave young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

The screening will take place on Monday, 15th October at
Senior Citizen Club
234 Carey Gardens
London SW8 4HW.

  • 4.30pm – 5.30pm – walking tour of the Carey Gardens Estate with Mark Saunders – filmmaker, Brian Barnes – mural artist and Nick Wood – architect
  • 5.30pm – 7.30pm – screening and discussion with contributors and filmmakers

You can find trailers to “Memories of Battersea” in our previous posts or on Spectacle’s Youtube channel: bit.ly/MBATTtrailers

More info about the event can be also found here

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Lost video “Aug 13” on “Battle of Lewisham 1977” found in Spectacle Archive

Late July 2017, just a few weeks before the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham Spectacle found the “lost” video of the anti-fascist film “Aug 13: What Happened” in its extensive and unique video archive. The Spectacle video archive contains over 3000 hours of video on social justice, urbanism, human rights, housing, anti-racism, alternative and radical media from 1977 to the present day. Much of the late 1970s and 1980s content was shot in and around East London which was a very different place then.

The film “Aug 13” was found, high on a shelf, among a group of U-Matic tapes Despite TV had gathered for a film, never finished, for the 50th Anniversary of the 1936 Battle of Cable Street when the Jewish community of East London and its anti-fascist allies blocked the streets in order to prevent Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists marching through.

August 13 1977 the Battle of Lewisham from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

The film depicts the infamous events of 13 August 1977, the so called Battle of Lewisham, when the far-right National Front (NF)  attempted to march through South East London which led to clashes with anti-fascist groups, and later between demonstrators and the police. The footage shows the first time police deployed riot gear on the UK mainland and provides vital evidence about the demonstration and its aftermath in which over 100 people were injured.

With testimony from eyewitnesses varying, and often contradicting official reports, the battle has become a contested historical event. The film was shot by volunteers connected to the Albany Video project in Deptford. This version was restored just in time for the anniversary and is now included in the London Community Video Archive

Nearly forty years later to the day, 12 August 2017, there was the “Charlottesville incident” a counter demonstration against a White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville , Virginia, USA. Lessons from the past might help in the fight against a new virulent form of Fascism taking a grip particularly in the USA, UK and Europe.

You might also be interested in our  documentary  film

22nd August will also be the 26th anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots. Check out our participatory investigative feature length documentary “The Truth Lies in Rostock

The Truth Lies in Rostock from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

August 1992 Lichtenhagen estate, Rostock, former East Germany. Police withdraw as fascists petrol bomb a refugee centre and the home of Vietnamese guest workers while 3000 spectators stood by and clapped.

Using material filmed from inside the attacked houses and interviews with anti-fascists, the Vietnamese guest workers, police, bureaucrats, neo-nazis and residents, a story of political collusion and fear unfolds.

“Aug 13” is just one of the many lost and forgotten gems to be found in the Spectacle Archive. We are always interested to explore collaborative projects based on our archives.

To find out more about our archive, which also includes 100s of original paper documents regarding independent media 1977-2000 please ontact archive@spectacle.co.uk to find out more or visit Spectacle Archive

 

 

Spectacle trains the Macular Society in video production and editing

Spectacle provides video marketing training to clients in a wide range of sectors, including charities.

The Macular Society approached Spectacle wanting to learn how to use video to further their campaigns, to fundraise and to increase awareness of the charity as a whole, with the ultimate aim of being able to do more to help individuals effected by Macular Degeneration disease. 

Andrew Gray, of the Macular Society, arranged and attended the video training session and found it “perfectly suit[ed]” their needs.

He said: “If you’re thinking about incorporating video content into your work, whether you’re starting up from scratch or looking to fine tune your existing skills, we’d have no hesitation in recommending Spectacle to help you.” Andrew also felt Mark, the tutor, was excellent and helped the participants to really understand the best equipment, and how to use it to improve the content they had already created. 

Macular Degeneration is a disease affecting the central part of the retina, which can over time cause partial or full lose of vision. Researchers predict that by 2020, there will be 679,000 people with AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) in the UK, therefore it is crucial to raise awareness of the sight-affecting disease. Macular Degeneration can have devastating effects, causing some people with the disease to eventually become legally blind.

Video is a powerful and effective way to raise awareness of important causes like Macular Degeneration. It can help raise awareness and market charities, visually, which can often be more effective than words. But out sourcing video can be expensive.

Training staff to record and edit videos themselves is hugely time and cost effective. Also, results can be better without a film crew of a strangers, making the project’s outcome more powerful.

Spectacle ran a bespoke training course on location for The Macular Society, but also offer the course in our south London workshop. We can teach participants all the stages of video production and editing process in an informative and clear manner.

To find out more visit Spectacle Training  or contact us on: training@spectacle.co.uk