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Forever Prisoner

by The Four Fathers

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about

'Forever Prisoner' is about Guantánamo prisoner Khaled Qassim, a Yemeni held without charge or trial at the prison for over 20 years.

A talented artist, writer, singer and footballer, who has consistently stood up for the prisoners’ rights — and been punished for it — he has continued to be held at Guantánamo not because of anything he is alleged to have done prior to his arrival at the prison (he was, at most, a low-level foot soldier with the Taliban), but because he has not been regarded as cooperative enough to assure the authorities that it was safe to release him.

Our lead singer Andy Worthington came up with the song before Covid hit, but it took until June this year for us to begin recording it, and, ironically, we finished overdubs at the end of July, the day after Khaled learned that he had finally been approved for release.

Technically, this means that he is no longer a “forever prisoner”, but in practical terms he is still held indefinitely without charge or trial, joining a queue of 20 other prisoners (out of 36 in total), who have been approved for release but are still held, as the Biden administration negotiates their release with their home countries, or, in the case of the nine Yemenis still held (including Khaled), searches for third countries prepared to offer them a new home, because US law, based on security concerns, prevents Guantanamo prisoners from being sent back to Yemen.

As a result, Khaled’s release is probably not imminent, and we hope very much that this song retains its relevance, not just for him, but for all the other men still held at Guantanamo who have never been charged with a crime, and who remain as shorn of fundamental rights now as they were when they were first seized and sent to this peculiarly lawless prison in the first place.

For more on Khaled, see: www.andyworthington.co.uk/2022/01/25/forever-prisoner-at-guantanamo-the-shameful-ongoing-imprisonment-of-khaled-qassim/
and: www.andyworthington.co.uk/2022/07/26/joy-as-the-talented-artist-khaled-qassim-is-approved-for-release-from-guantanamo-but-when-will-he-be-freed/

lyrics

Forever Prisoner (Andy Worthington)

Khaled Qassim was barely a man when he was sent to Afghanistan
Sent to help the Taliban win for sure in a long-running inter-Muslim civil war
Then came 9/11 and he suddenly became a terrorist against the USA
He tried to get to Pakistan to try to get home but was seized and sold and sent to Guantánamo

Chorus

Forever prisoner of the USA
Stuck in Guantánamo with all his hope taken away
Forever prisoner of the Biden regime
Held forever without charge or trial, what could be more obscene?

Khaled Qassim in Guantánamo, like others wouldn’t do what he was told
A hunger striker and a leader of men, his quest for justice led to punishment
But when it comes down to setting him free, they say he’s still a threat to their security
And he’s left wondering, oh wondering when, he’ll ever be a free man again

Chorus (repeat)

Line-up:

Andy Worthington (lead vocals, guitar)
Richard Clare (lead guitar)
Bren Horstead (drums)
Paul Rooke (bass)
Andrew Fifield (harmonica)

credits

released August 11, 2022
Written by Andy Worthington.
Recorded at Equator Studios with Charlie Hart, June and July 2022. Mixed August 2022.
Cover image by Brendan Horstead.

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The Four Fathers London, UK

Militant, melodic rock & roots reggae band, based in SE London, mostly playing original protest music. Journalist and activist Andy Worthington (lead vocals, electro-acoustic guitar), Richard Clare (electric guitar, vocals), Bren Horstead (drums, percussion), Andrew Fifield (flute, harmonica), Paul Rooke (bass). ... more

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