It is now ten days since the British government reached a financial settlement with 15 former Guantánamo prisoners — and also with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still held in the prison — and I fear that, given the relentless “churnalism” of the news cycle (to quote the investigative journalist Nick Davies), it may soon be forgotten that he is still held, that a Metropolitan Police investigation into his allegations that he was tortured in US custody in Afghanistan while British agents were present cannot conclude without him, and that without a conclusion to this investigation the judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture abroad, which the government wants to “draw a line under the past,” cannot even begin.
As it is inconcevable that it would take the Obama administration more than a few days to sort out the necessary paperwork and locate a plane capable of flying Shaker Aamer back to the UK, I’ve put together a letter below that readers can cut and paste and send to foreign secretary William Hague, stressing how important it is that Shaker Aamer be returned to the UK, and to his wife and children, as swiftly as possible. Readers can also cut and paste it and send it by email.
A letter to William Hague calling for the return of Shaker Aamer
William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH
Dear Foreign Secretary,
Following the announcement on 16 November that a financial settlement has been reached with 15 former Guantánamo prisoners — and with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison — I am writing to you to seek confirmation that he will be returned to the UK in the imminent future, so that the Metropolitan Police inquiry into his allegations against British agents can be brought to an end, and so that the judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture abroad, which you did so much to encourage, can begin.
As Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen pointed out recently, it was “very welcome” to hear that you had asked Secretary of State Clinton to return Mr. Aamer to the UK, but “in the absence of charges or a proper trial we now need to see Mr. Hague and the US authorities agreeing a specific timetable for Shaker’s release.”
I would also like to draw your attention to questions raised by Mr. Aamer‘s UK lawyer Gareth Peirce, who asked, “How is it possible for our government to talk of drawing a line under the past when a British resident who has been hideously tortured over many years is still in unlawful detention in Guantánamo Bay? Are we really as a country prepared to allow his tenth year of captivity to begin in the hands of Britain’s closest ally?”
I also note that Jane Ellison (Battersea, Balham and Wandsworth), the MP for Mr. Aamer’s family, has stated, “A change of government and, in particular, the Prime Minister’s announcement that there was to be an inquiry into the UK’s complicity in torture, has given the campaign for Mr. Aamer’s release new impetus.”
She added, “I have raised his case in Parliament on four occasions since the election and discussed it with ministers and Foreign Office officials in detail; the tone of the exchanges has changed a lot in a few months and I feel his case is firmly on the government’s agenda.”
Please confirm that Mr. Aamer’s case is not only “firmly on the government’s agenda,” but also that you understand that wthout swift action to secure his return — something that is clearly not out of the question given the close bonds between the US and the UK — I and others will be obliged to doubt your commitment “to balance the needs of national security with the need for justice and accountability in our democratic society,” which you expressed in February this year.
With Mr. Aamer about to enter his tenth year in US custody without charge or trial, the time for his return is now.
[add name, and address if sending by mail, and you wish to receive a reply]
Note: Readers can also send a letter to their MPs asking them to raise Shaker Aamer’s case with William Hague. A draft letter is here. Also see this page for information about future screenings of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the documentary film co-directed by Polly Nash and myself, which features the story of Shaker Aamer – on December 10 in Roehampton, on December 11 in Battersea, and on December 15 in Sheffield — and if you’re in London, or able to pay a visit, please also note that the screening on Saturday December 11, at the Battersea Arts Centre, is part of an event entitled, “A Day for Shaker Aamer,” organized by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign in his home borough of Wandsworth. The day begins at 12 noon, with a demonstration at Ponton Road, Nine Elms, London SW8, the site of the new US embassy. At 12.30 those gathered will march to Battersea Arts Centre for a public meeting, beginning at 2 pm, with speakers including Ken Livingstone, Moazzam Begg, Victoria Brittain, Jeremy Corbyn, Lindsey German, Kate Hudson, Gareth Peirce and Yvonne Ridley, and the film will be shown at 4.30 pm, followed by a Q&A with myself and Omar Deghayes.
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.
As published exclusively on Cageprisoners.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington, Spine the Film and Graham Inman, Pitch and Roll. Pitch and Roll said: Send a Letter to William Hague Asking Him to Demand Shaker Aamer's …: Following the announcem… http://bit.ly/fmSPbW #indiefilm #film […]
On Facebook, Christine Casner wrote:
Andy, as i am in the US, would MY sending a letter help? if so, let me know, and i will send one!!
take care, chris
I’m sure that a letter from a concerned American would be perfectly appropriate, Christine. You might want to mention that it has been noted, behind the scenes, that US officials have stated that the British have not been pushing hard enough for his release.
CC I just thought you might be interested I got Hagues email from your site and thought you should get this copy.
FAO William Hague MP please circulate as this widely as you see fit.
It is all very well you condemning violence but you stand judged by your actions and not your words. Ding Gourd dang Jews will take the World into ever more chaos as long as you side with them. The main reason you are always side by side with this minority is due to in part to your ignorance but also your cowardice. You know that the reporting from Libya is founded on Jewish/CNN lies. The World stands on the brink of a total disaster at the GENERAL ELECTRIC FIASCO and look at your activity. Military activity is politics in failure but you political types never want to admit your own inadequacy. The Jews bring it all upon themselves If you hold the balance of terror then you only have yourselves to blame for inevitable balance.
Wake your little head and understand the following sentence of words, then find out for yourself if you have what it takes.
Ok here goes this is the sentence of words that sends the cowardly little Jew running out of options, try it out.
The reason you Jews are the biggest thieves and liars in the history of mankind is not because you have run the banks for hundreds of years or own virtually all the news media (+ blew up the trade tower) but because for 2000 years you have understood that the book of life is your own subconscious acceptance.
This sends the poor little Jew into retreat, go on give it a go if you dare. I very much doubt if the likes of a William would have either the intellect or the courage to face the Truth here.
What sort of fools would put the emergency back up to a nuclear plant in the lower basement area on the shore of a coast where the word tsunami was born? Further to this the machines kicked into action just before the water arrived this in itself would have greatly added to the problems.
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