Campaigners Ask David Cameron to Secure Return to UK of Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo

21.6.10

On Friday, unnoticed by the mainstream media, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, established by concerned citizens from the borough of Wandsworth, where Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, has his home, and where his wife and children still live, handed in an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, asking Mr. Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague “to make the strongest representations possible to the US administration to secure Shaker Aamer’s release and return to this country.” The following is a press statement issued by the SSAC:

Save Shaker Aamer Campaign press statement

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign will be handing in an open letter today to 10 Downing Street, calling upon the Prime Minister David Cameron, along with foreign secretary William Hague and the British government to make the strongest representations possible to the US administration to secure Shaker Aamer’s release and return to this country. It is time for Britain to be seen again as a country that cares about justice, protects the innocent and shows a respect for others. High-level diplomatic, legal and medical delegations must be sent to the US and Guantánamo to secure Shaker’s release and re-instate his human rights.

The SSAC notes President Obama’s wish to close Guantánamo and his appeal to European countries to take in released detainees, and also the British foreign secretary William Hague’s recent statement that there is to be an inquiry into claims of British complicity in torture, which is most welcome. However, this inquiry will be incomplete and of limited value and validity, if British resident Shaker Aamer is still detained in Guantánamo.

Shaker has been detained in Guantánamo for over eight years without trial or charge; he is known to have been brutally tortured and has throughout that time been stripped of his human rights. The US cleared him for release in 2007 but he remains incarcerated in the hideous concentration camp. He was a UK resident before his detention and his wife and four children have always lived in this country. He must be released from Guantánamo and returned immediately to his home and family in the UK.

It would be a travesty of justice if an inquiry into UK complicity in torture takes place while, at the same time, Shaker Aamer continues to be subjected to torture in Guantánamo. His story of abusive interrogations and torture must be heard, together with the statements of so many others whose human rights were violated by torture techniques that breached all international laws. Those who authorised these torture policies and practices must be made accountable. Any inquiry must be full and open and have the widest possible remit.

The truth must be told about this shameful period. Those who were subjected to torture will be reliving very painful, traumatic memories in order to tell their stories. They must be treated with care and respect. They have suffered great wrongs. They must not suffer more injustice.

SSAC calls upon the British foreign secretary William Hague and the British government to make to make the strongest representations possible to the US administration to secure Shaker’s release and return to this country.

Note: For copies of letters to William Hague, and to MPs, which can be cut and pasted, please see here and here. Also see my recent article, “Murders at Guantánamo: The Cover-Up Continues,” which provides a distressing insight into what may be one of the reasons why Shaker Aamer has not yet been released — because he was tortured in Guantánamo on the same night in June 2006 that three other prisoners died, in circumstances that have never been adequately explained.

For further information, see the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and myself), which focuses on Shaker Aamer’s story, along with those of two other British residents formerly held in Guantánamo — Omar Deghayes and Binyam Mohamed — and watch this space for details of forthcoming campaigns.

Also, please consider writing to William Hague and/or your MP about Shaker Aamer, and don’t forget: any attempt by the new coalition government to claim that it represents an improvement on New Labour when it comes to human rights will be undermined while Shaker Aamer is still held.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

One Response

  1. Frances Madeson says...

    This post at The Book Haven http://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2010/06/hannah-arendt-on-racism/ links to two MP3s of Hannah Arendt speaking to relevant issues. Both the talk and the Q&A are instructive and well worth the in-total one hour of listening to a towering, historic, intellectual woman thinking out loud about power, violence and racism. Among other things, she says:

    “A normal reaction to injustice is rage.”

    My next trip to the U.K. I’ll make a point of visiting Wandsworth if only to breathe the rare air of a haven for justice and true neighborliness.

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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, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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