Amnesty International UK has just issued a press release deploring the “mockery of justice” in the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who has been held for nine years without charge or trial. The press release has been issued to mark the ninth aniversary of Shaker Aamer’s arrival at Guantánamo (after being held in Afghanistan for two months). According to weight records released by the Pentagon in 2007, which also include the prisoners’ dates of arrival at the prison, the date of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo was February 13, 2002.
I’m delighted to report that the press release also includes a mention of the forthcoming tour of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and myself), which focuses on Shaker’s story, as well as the stories of Binyam Mohamed and Omar Deghayes (both released). After I spoke at Amnesty’s Student Conference in November (where clips from the film were shown) and I invited student groups to arrange screenings, I received an enormously positive response, and Amnesty then agreed to support the tour, providing copies of the DVD and promotional materials to interested groups. Seven screenings for Amnesty student groups have been arranged so far, starting with Bristol on February 14, Durham on February 18 and Edinburgh on February 19, and another 18 are in the pipeline.
Amnesty’s press release is posted below (with links that I have added myself):
Amnesty has denounced the treatment of Shaker Aamer, the former UK resident held at Guantánamo, as a “mockery of justice”, as supporters in the UK and elsewhere mark the ninth full year of his detention at the US military base.
Mr Aamer, 43, has been held without charge or trial at Guantánamo for exactly nine years this month — campaigners put the date of his arrival at the detention centre at 13 February 2002.
Aamer is the last recognised former resident of the UK held at Guantánamo and is currently the subject of a high-profile Amnesty campaign for him to receive a fair trial or be released back to his wife and children in the UK. Thousands of Amnesty supporters have written to the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague asking him to press for this to happen.
Meanwhile, human rights campaigner and Guantánamo author Andy Worthington is set to present special screenings in the UK this month of his documentary film “Outside The Law: Stories From Guantánamo” (see weblink below). Worthington, whose tour is supported by Amnesty, has said the tour is primarily designed to raise awareness of Shaker Aamer’s plight.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“The treatment meted out to Shaker Aamer has made a total mockery of justice.
“It’s been nine years without charges, without a trial and, in many ways, without much hope for Shaker, and we are determined to see his basic human rights restored.
“Now there could be light at the end of the tunnel for Shaker. Thousands of people on both sides of the Atlantic have recently called on senior UK and US politicians to break the deadlock over his case.
“Currently all the signs point to heightened behind-the-scenes activity over Shaker’s situation and it’s vital that we say to politicians ‘we won’t rest until his case is fairly resolved’.
“Given the time involved, the lengthy spells in solitary confinement and the torture allegedly used against him, Shaker Aamer’s plight has been one of the worst of all the detainees held at Guantánamo.
“There are strong humanitarian and human rights grounds for the UK government to step up its efforts to secure a fair trial or a safe release for Shaker.
“Meanwhile, if the forthcoming inquiry into UK involvement in torture is to do its job properly, it is likely to need to hear from Shaker. The easiest way to do that is get him out of the cruel limbo of Guantánamo.”
Through his lawyer, Aamer has alleged that he was badly beaten and subjected to death threats in front of an MI5 officer as well as US intelligence officials while being secretly held and interrogated in Afghanistan in early 2002. In February 2002 Aamer was transferred to the notorious US military detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, where he has languished ever since. There are allegations that he was again tortured at Guantánamo, and he has spent long periods of his incarceration at the camp in solitary confinement.
Aamer is originally from Saudi Arabia but is married to a British citizen and has four British children. He had permission to live indefinitely in the UK when he was originally detained in Afghanistan by Afghan forces in the autumn of 2001.
Note to editors
In January 2009 President Barack Obama signed an executive order committing the US administration to resolving the cases of the detainees held at Guantánamo “as promptly as possible”, and to closing the detention facility “no later than one year from the date of this order”.
However 172 men are currently detained at Guantánamo. The majority have been held there without charge or trial for more than eight years.
The Guantánamo Review Task Force established under President Obama’s executive order recommended in January 2010 that 36 detainees be prosecuted by the USA, either in federal court or in military commissions; that 48 others continue to be held without charge or trial; and that the remainder be transferred out of Guantánamo, to countries other than the USA, either immediately or eventually. Some of those who could not be returned to their home countries have been offered a new home in third countries in Europe and elsewhere.
The US administration continues to pursue trials by military commission in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards. To date, only one Guantánamo detainee has been transferred to the US mainland for trial in a civilian court.
For more information on “Outside The Law: Stories From Guantánamo” film screenings, please see: “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” — UK Tour Dates 2011: The “Save Shaker Aamer” Tour.
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, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dominique Rodier and Dominique Rodier, Andy Worthington. Andy Worthington said: #Guantanamo: #Amnesty Calls Treatment of #ShakerAamer A Mockery of #Justice, Announces My Student Film Tour in support http://bit.ly/g4xjNo […]
On Facebook, Willy Bach wrote:
… and a mockery of justice it most certainly is. Any decent person in the British Parliament would want this fixed and Shaker brought home. His continued deprivation of liberty is totally unacceptable. What if it was any of them? What if Britain was not the USA’s number one ally? If the British government cannot secure his release, then who can?
Very good questions, Willy. I keep asking myself if the coalition government is being honest when it claims that, in contrast to the Labour government, it is working hard to secure his release. Is this true? Or does it still suit the UK to keep this man who knows so much, and will, presumably, not be silenced, in Guantanamo for as long as possible?
[…] is a link to a new article by Andy Worthington about Shaker Aamer whose story has been told on this […]
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