Send a Letter to Your MP Demanding the Release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer

21.11.10

Since the announcement last week that the British government has reached a financial settlement with 15 former Guantánamo prisoners — and with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison — it has been blindingly obvious that reaching a settlement with a man who is still imprisoned for no good reason at Guantánamo, as is the case with Shaker Aamer, is both ridiculous and insulting.

Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national who moved to the UK in the mid-1990s, has a British wife and children, and was cleared for release from Guantánamo by a military review board under the Bush administration in 2007. He remains held because of inactivity on the part of the both the British and the American governments, but with the announcement of the settlement, it is imperative that he is returned to the UK as swiftly as possible, for two compelling reasons: firstly, because a Metropolitan Police investigation into his allegations that British agents were present while he was tortured in US custody in Afghanistan cannot conclude without him, and, without a conclusion to this investigation, the judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture abroad, announced in July by Prime Minister David Cameron, cannot begin.

Below is the introduction to a draft letter put together by Amnesty International, and a copy of the letter that readers in the UK can cut and paste and send to their MPs. If you care about the plight of Shaker Aamer, please send a letter, to add to the crescendo of voices asking for Shaker Aamer’s return. There has never been a better time for us to bring his unjust detention to an end.

From Amnesty International UK:

Please take the following action for Shaker Aamer and circulate to others — or, better still, arrange a meeting with your MP and raise the concerns set out in this letter directly with them.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague reportedly raised Shaker’s case with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at a meeting in Washington D.C. on 17 November, which is very welcome news. Please contact your MP and ask them to raise Shaker Aamer’s case with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, urging him to maintain the pressure on the US to release Shaker Aamer. Please use the text below (but feel free to personalise your letter to make a bigger impact and to add your own voice):

A letter to your MP regarding the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer

Dear [fill in name of MP],

I am writing to you about Shaker Aamer, the former British resident who has been detained without trial for nearly nine years in the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. He alleges that he has been tortured.

Shaker Aamer has never been charged or convicted of any criminal offence while in US custody. Despite this, he remains in detention. Shaker’s British wife and children live in London and his youngest child has never met his father.

President Obama has pledged to close Guantánamo Bay and the British government has asked the US for Shaker Aamer’s release — most recently in a November meeting in Washington D.C., according to reports. Despite the seeming willingness of the UK authorities to permit his return to the UK and the absence to date of any charges, Shaker Aamer remains detained without trial at Guantánamo Bay.

But the UK Government must maintain pressure on the US for Shaker Aamer’s release if his case is to be resolved. Please raise Shaker’s case with the Foreign Secretary William Hague and:

– Welcome his statement in Washington that he has called on US Secretary of State Clinton to return Shaker Aamer to the UK and request that he reports back to parliament on these discussions;

– Urge the Foreign Secretary to continue to press the US to quickly agree a timetable for Shaker’s trial or return to the UK.

Jane Ellison MP is the Constituency MP for Shaker Aamer’s wife and children. She will be happy to brief you further on the case.

Yours sincerely,

[add name]

Note: If sending by mail, please include an address if you wish to receive a reply. You can also send this letter by email (see this Amnesty page for details) or find your MP and contact them directly via WriteToThem. You can also send a postcard to Daniel Fried, President Obama’s Special Envoy on Guantánamo, asking for Shaker Aamer’s release (although I would cut the section mentioning that the US government can, if it wishes, “charge him promptly and give him a fair trial”).

If you have any queries about this action, please email Amnesty International.

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 July 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.

6 Responses

  1. Tweets that mention Send a Letter to Your MP Demanding the Release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer | Andy Worthington -- Topsy.com says...

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington, Susan Hall. Susan Hall said: Send a Letter to Your MP Demanding the Release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer | Andy Worthington http://bit.ly/cwBBxJ […]

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Here are some comments from Facebook:

    Malcolm Bush wrote:

    Dear Andy Worthington,
    I’ve done a letter to my MP, I’ve just done another repeat letter towards the FCO. I’ll write another repeat letter to my MP anyway.
    I’m going to go for maximum effort regarding this and the SOA Watch issue. The two together should dispel the myth that torture is new and terrorism is Islamist only.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Susan Hall wrote:

    Thank you always for your care, keep it going & I will too. Except sometimes I wish we could be in the UK instead of where there is such apathy.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    Andy, I think the Cameron government have had long enough to assess the situation of Shaker Aamer. They are out of excuses. We should demand they show cause why they have done nothing about his case.

    Malcolm, why not a phone call every day to your MP to ask him/her why there has been no progress. Tell them we are monitoring their progress.

    Sorry, it is easy for me to say this, as I do not live in Britain.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Malcolm, Susan and Willy. Just back from spreading the word in Oxford, at a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo.”

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Emma Parker wrote:

    Please can everyone write to their own mp and ask them to keep up the pressure on the government to bring Shaker Aamer home. We have to take this opportunity while this story is making headlines.

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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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