Last week, I recorded a brief video message of support for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, urging everyone who cares about Shaker’s plight to sign the petition to the British government calling for his immediate return to the UK. As the petition states, “The Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office must undertake urgent new initiatives to achieve the immediate transfer of Shaker Aamer to the UK from continuing indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay.”
Due to concerted efforts by Shaker’s many supporters, the petition has secured thousands of signatures in the last week, and I hope that this video helps, as, I hope, my exclusive report last week, “A Demand for ‘Freedom and Justice’ from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo,” was also useful. 100,000 signatures are needed by April 2013, for his case to be eligible for Parliamentary debate.
The message is below, and please feel free to circulate it as widely as possible:
As I explained in that article — and as I explain in my video — Shaker is still suffering, held in isolation and abused every day, even though it was officially revealed a month ago that he was cleared for release three years ago, on a list of 55 prisoners who have been cleared for release but still held, which was provided by the US government in a court case.
This is in addition to him being told in 2007, under George W. Bush, that the US authorities no longer wanted to hold him, but although his status has been known about for all this time, the inclusion of Shaker’s name on the list was the first time ever that the US government has acknowledged officially that Shaker is free to leave.
The ball, then, is in the British government’s court, and we should all be asking why he is not already back in London with his wife and children, and why, given that he is not, he will not be on a plane back home tomorrow?
The time for excuses is long gone. Nearly eleven years since Shaker was first picked up and sold by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, he must be freed immediately. For years, those of us following his case have maintained that he continues to be held because, as an eloquent man and a principled defender of the prisoners’ rights, he is someone who knows too much about the horrors that have occurred, and is unlikely to stay quiet about what he knows. That has never been a good reason for not releasing him, as it implies that what he knows is evidence of crimes by senior government officials on both sides of the Atlantic, and the longer he remains detained, now that his status as a prisoner cleared for release is known, the more those suspicions will grow — that he is being sacrificed so politicians past and present can avoid having to answer for their crimes.
Enough is enough! Bring Shaker Aamer home now!
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, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Thank you for allowing me knowledge to sign.
I’m not sure if it’s important, but I think the petition states it needs 10,000 signatures. Do you think if it hits 10,000, people will not then sign or wont be able to sign?
The British petition needs 100,000 signatures to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate, and it has a deadline of next April. It’s not a problem if you exceed 100,000 signatures, although we’ve obviously got a long way to go.
As for the international petition, we’re trying to secure 10,000 signatures for that, which will then be delivered to the US and UK governments. Again, though, there’s no actual cut off point, as far as I’m aware. However, we also have a long way to go with that petition too – just over 1,000 signatures so far.
On Facebook, AniTa Hdz wrote:
Richard Osbourne wrote:
Thanks, Richard. Much appreciated.
10,665 signatures on the UK petition, 1,068 on the international petition. Please keep publicizing them!
Thanks Andy, Sorry…the dyslexia gets me sometimes. Thank you for your clarification.
No problem, Omar. You are welcome. Just to clarify again, if you’re in the UK, you can sign both petitions, but if you’re not a UK citizen or resident, you can’t sign the petition to the British government.
Brilliant, I’ll sign the UK one now then. Thank you.
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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