Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo, the Hunger Strike and Shaker Aamer in Westminster, Birmingham and Tooting

18.3.13

Please sign the e-petition calling for the British government to secure the return to the UK from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who has been cleared for release since 2007. 100,000 signatures are needed by April 20.

With a huge hunger strike taking place at Guantánamo, the prison is on the mainstream media’s radar more than it has been for many, many months, if not years — and, in the UK, it is also time for there to be a renewed focus on the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.

Despite being cleared for release under President Bush and President Obama, Shaker is still held, even though he is the one prisoner, out of 86 prisoners cleared for release but still held, who could — and should — be released immediately. Congress has raised obstacles to the release of prisoners to any country that can be regarded as dangerous, but few, if any lawmakers would dare to argue that Britain fits that category.

In the UK, the ongoing detention of Shaker Aamer continues to appal those who have been campaigning for his release for many years — and the British government’s persistent claims that they are doing all they can to secure his return do not sound convincing. Last year, Shaker’s family launched an e-petition asking the British government to explain how, as America’s closest ally in the “war on terror,” it cannot secure Shaker’s return to the UK, to his British wife and four children, and there is now just one month to go for campaigners to try and ensure that the petition gets 100,000 signatures so that it is eligible for a Parliamentary debate. Please note that only British citizens and residents can sign it, although there is no lower age limit, so all family members can sign. Anyone anywhere in the world can sign the international petition here.

As part of a week of action on behalf of Shaker Aamer, I’m taking part in three events this week — I’m in conversation with my friend, the former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, at the University of Westminster in London tomorrow (Tuesday March 19), and, on Thursday (March 21), I travel to Birmingham to discuss Guantánamo, the hunger strike and Shaker Aamer at the University of Birmingham. Both events are organised by the respective Amnesty International student societies. On Saturday, I head to Tooting, in south London, for a day of action organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, to secure signatures for the e-petition, where I will be joining other campaigners including the journalist Yvonne Ridley, Jean Lambert MEP, Jane Ellison MP (Shaker’s constituency MP), Joy Hurcombe (the chair of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign), Imam Suliman Gani of Tooting Islamic Centre, and Shaker’s family.

The full details are below:

Tuesday March 19, 6pm: Andy Worthington in Conversation with Omar Deghayes
University of Westminster, Room 358, Regent Street Campus, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW.

This event is organised by Westminster University Amnesty International Society, and features a discussion between independent journalist and Guantánamo expert Andy Worthington and former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, who was held from 2002 until 2007. Omar and Andy have made numerous appearances together over the last few years, and in 2010 undertook a UK tour to promotes the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” co-directed by Andy and Polly Nash, in which Omar featured prominently. See the Facebook page here.

Thursday March 21, 5pm: Andy Worthington Speaking About Guantánamo and Shaker Aamer
University of Birmingham, Lecture Theatre WG5, Aston Webb Building, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT. 

This event is organised by Birmingham University Amnesty International Group and the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS). Independent journalist and Guantánamo expert Andy Worthington will be discussing the hunger strike at Guantánamo, the case of Shaker Aamer, his work as a media partner of WikiLeaks in the release of classified files relating to the prisoners in 2011, and his visit to the US in January as a member of the steering committee of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign. See the Facebook page here.

Saturday March 23, 12 noon to 5pm: All Day E-Petition Action for Shaker Aamer with Andy Worthington, Yvonne Ridley, Jean Lambert MEP, Jane Ellison MP, Joy Hurcombe, Imam Suliman Gani and Shaker Aamer’s family
Outside Tooting Islamic Centre, 152 -156 Upper Tooting Road, London SW17 7TJ.

This event, designed to gather as many signatures as possible for the Shaker Aamer e-petition, which ends on April 20, is organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, with the generous support of Tooting Islamic Centre. Throughout the day, the speakers will also be addressing supporters and passers-by, to provide education and inspiration. For further information, please contact the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign on 07756 493877.

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, 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.

27 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    thanks Andy and shared …

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Just a couple of important suggestions for you to mention at these events in terms of the petition Andy. First it’d be ideal if you took some dozens of petition papers with you, 3 sheets stapled at a time. And all the flyers you have with you too. Secondly if you could emphasize that people of any age can sign and also those who don’t have an email address, on the paper petitions that’d be great. Encourage everyone to take a sheet and fill in there families details, and ask there friends to do the same (with permission) and get there neighbours to sign over the holiday period. Then they send it to the address at the bottom of the petition paper. So if you have a total of 100 people at these two events, your looking at 2500 signatures from people just doing this, MINIMUM. Print off the petition template here >> http://www.saveshaker.org/uploads/Shaker%20Aamer%20Petition%20Template12.pdf

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Waris. I have some petition sheets, so I shall be following your advice!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Thanks. I will try to come on Thursday to see you and one or two other activists/campaigners at the Uni, really don’t know at the moment. Either way i hope it’s packed out and everybody is willing to at least do the above suggestions, If you have hundreds of people doing this across the country, it’s many thousands of easy signatures. Peace

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Mark Matthews wrote:

    Good luck against the NWO.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Waris, and thanks, Mark – a little bit of luck won’t go astray.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Updates added for Saturday in Tooting – Jane Ellison MP, Shaker’s constituency MP, will be there, as will Shaker’s family!

  8. Lindis Percy says...

    Dear Andy Worthington

    We are wondering if you received an invitation from the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – CAAB to come to speak at the annual ‘Independence FROM America’ demonstration at the American base at NSA Menwith Hill please. This year the ‘theme’ will be on Guantanamo.

    We would be most pleased if you would let us know. We will then send more details as to the details.

    With best wishes

    Lindis Percy and Laila Packer
    Joint Coordinators
    CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    I haven’t received an invite, Lindis. Please do feel free to email me the details.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin A Gugino wrote:

    Does the US say what they want to happen before they will feel comfortable permitting Shaker Amer to leave the prison? I assume they have given it some thought.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin A Gugino wrote:

    I emailed the White House to see if they have a checklist of stuff that needs to be done or verified. Let you know.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin, the US government doesn’t say anything officially about Shaker, so it’s another jigsaw puzzle, with lawyers trying to get government officials on both sides of the Atlantic to tell them what’s going on. Do let me know if you hear anything back from the White House!

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    This and the other events you’ll be at this week have been advertised on the Save Shaker page, hope all the events are packed out! Peace

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris, the Amnesty crew in Westminster Uni are amazing! A packed house of educated, well-informed, passionate enthusiasts for justice!

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin A Gugino wrote:

    I do completely expect lack of helpfulness. They wont even respond to a FOIA request. Just putting on an optimistic spin to it.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin A Gugino wrote:

    Andy – know anyone in Cuba who is concerned about Guantanamo?? Long shot..

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Great comment, Martin, about what you expect – or don’t expect, rather, from the President.
    As for Cuba, the problem is the lease that can’t be broken unless both the US and Cuba agree to it. It rather ties their hands, I think.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Brilliant Andy, that’s what we like to hear! Were you able to mention the points we talked about and did the people there agree to doing it? Like raise there hands or something?

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    I began by reading out the short URL for the e-petition and getting everyone to put it on their phones or to sign there and then, Waris. I also handed out dozens of the cards for family members.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Zeke Johnson wrote:

    Martin: The conditions on transfer of detainees to other countries are in Section 1028 of the NDAA. It would appear that the UK could meet those conditions. My sense is that the US (and perhaps the UK behind closed doors) would prefer he go to Saudi, but Saudi does not meet the conditions (eg recidivism requirement). It’s very important to pressure UK authorities to do more on the case. And we need to push them to drop the line that the NDAA blocks Shaker’s transfer to the UK. It seems even with the restrictions, Shaker could go home to the UK tomorrow. http://www.closeguantanamo.org/Articles/36-What-you-missed-the-NDAA-allows-the-President-to-release-prisoners-from-Guantanamo

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Zeke. Very thorough!

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Barbara Cummings wrote:

    This horror is a permanent stain on the fabric of the united states. I am shamed by it. Thank you, Andy, for your stellar work and your continued passion.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Barbara, for the kind and supportive words.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    That’s excellent Andy, hopefully everyone will fill them out. They know where to print off the petition sheets if they want to collect further signatures right?

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris, please let them know if you will: https://www.facebook.com/events/122100717975875/

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Martin A Gugino wrote:

    Andy, about the lease of Guantanamo. Please stop and think. What kind of lease binds only one party no matter what? It is complete nonsense. Of course, the US seems to be intent on constantly repeating that : resistance is futile. But the US has ALREADY broken the lease, violated its terms, caused a material breach, by doing things expressly forbidden by the terms of the lease. Are you saying that these wrongs have no remedy? They do have a remedy. And for a serious breach of contract, one remedy potentially available, if the Cubans want it, is abrogation.
    Even if you accept the formulation that ” lease that can’t be broken unless both the US and Cuba agree to break it”, one can break a lease by ignoring its terms. Since the US already has done that, if Cuba does as well, that satisfies the condition that you placed on it to its termination.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I know what you mean, Martin, but the US doesn’t care what anyone thinks. If Cuba claimed Guantanamo back, it would be war. 10 years ago, the US invaded a sovereign nation that didn’t pose an immediate threat to the US, after blatantly lying about the threat it did pose, and got away with it …

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