This photo set collects a few photos from events over the last week and a half that I haven’t included in any other sets — three relating to the ongoing campaign to free Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, and to bring him back to the UK to be reunited with his wife and children, and four of a “die-in” for the NHS, involving a roadblock outside the Houses of Parliament, during a protest that took place prior to a Parliamentary lobby on Tuesday.
I have been writing about Shaker Aamer’s case — and campaigning for his release — for many years, not just because Guantánamo has been a legal, moral and ethical abomination since its creation over 11 years ago, and remains so to this day, but also because his release is so long overdue. He was first told that he would be released under President Bush, in 2007, and again under President Obama in 2009, but, disgracefully, he is still held.
Free Shaker Aamer!
Last week, I took part in three events to highlight Shaker Aamer’s case, and to call for action to secure his release. The first, last Tuesday, was a talk to the Westminster University Amnesty International Society, with the former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, which was packed out, and full of articulate enthusiasts for justice, and the second, last Thursday, involved a day trip to Birmingham to talk to the Birmingham University Amnesty International Society. At both events, I spoke about the history of Guantánamo, the many disgraceful reasons it is still open, Shaker’s case, and the ongoing hunger strike, and encouraged everyone who attended to sign the e-petition to the British government calling for renewed action to secure Shaker’s return.
On Saturday, I joined campaigners from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign at Tooting Islamic Centre for a meeting at which I spoke along with Jane Ellison, Shaker’s MP, and Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, and which about in an article entitled, “Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo: Photos and Report from Saturday’s Day of Action in Tooting.” The meeting we spoke at — a very moving event attended by Shaker’s family — was part of a day of action to secure more signatures for the e-petition, which currently has 57,265 signatures, but needs 100,000 by April 20 to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate. Only British citizens and residents can sign it, but there is no lower age limit, so all family members can sign.
At the event, I discovered that there are thousands of signatures on paper petitions that need imputing, so if you can help to input the signatures, please email the organisers or text or phone 07949 178942 to offer your help, and to arrange for how you can do so. Anyone anywhere in the world can help out, because the paper petitions have been scanned, so please get in touch if you can help, and also, if you’re not a UK citizen or resident and want to support Shaker through a petition, there’s an international petition here that anyone can sign.
Save the NHS!
This week, while maintaining my focus on Guantánamo through various interview about the hunger strike, I also took part in a protest and Parliamentary lobby to save the NHS from further legislation designed by the Tory-led coalition government to lead to its privatisation, through regulations relating to Section 75 of the wretched Health and Social Care Act, passed last year, which oblige almost all NHS services to be put out to tender, thereby enabling corporations to take over most of the NHS, as those commissioning services — the Clinical Commissioning Groups of MPs, who will be taking over 80 percent f the NHS budget on April 1 — will not want to risk legal challenges from corporate providers.
I wrote extensively about the lobby, accompanied by photos, in an article entitled, “Save the NHS: Photos and Report from the Lobby of Parliament on March 26 to Scrap the New Regulations Enforcing NHS Privatisation,” and I’m glad to have an opportunity to mention the article again, as there has been no coverage of the lobby in the media at all, even though the issues are hugely important. As John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, stated at the meeting in the House of Commons, “Within 18 months, the NHS could be gone,” if we don’t act now.
The four photos included here are from a brief episode that took place after the protest and before the lobby, when there was a rather photogenic “die-in” on the road in front of Parliament.
If you can take action to support the NHS, and to oppose the government’s plans, then please, please do so. As I explained in my article, “The need to oppose the implementation of the Section 75 regulations is hugely important, and we only have until the third week of April to persuade members of the House of Lords (and particularly Lib Dem and cross-bench peers) to join with Labour peers in striking down the legislation. Opponents of the government’s plans are also encouraged to write to their MPs to ask them to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM 1188) calling for the regulations to be overturned. Find out how to write to members of the House of Lords — and what to say — on the Save Lewisham Hospital website here, and contact your MP here to ask them to sign EDM 1188, calling for the Section 75 regulations to be annulled.”
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.
On Facebook, I posted the photo, “Road block for the NHS, with John Hamilton of People Before Profit,” and wrote:
I do love this one.
Mimi Attleson wrote:
Like, like, like!
Beebs Tweet wrote:
There is little information as to the implications of new directives. SIGH. Great pix.
I think that’s because the implications are not clear, Beebs. The government’s intention is for the CCGs to award contracts to corporations, fearing ruinous legal challenges otherwise. I think we can fight back with concerted campaigning, but we’ll need the 350,000 people who signed the 38 Degrees petition to do more than just sign a petition. The important thing for now is to work on getting the Lords to derail the regulations in three weeks’ time: http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/write-letters-to-lords-now/
Beebs Tweet wrote:
Thanks, Andy, posted the link just now. Overall, lack of clarity and transparency is strategic leading to misinformation and insecurities to dis-empower. How frustrating.
Yes, deeply frustrating, Beebs. And the media aren’t, for the most part, sufficiently worried to devote time to the future of the NHS on a full-time basis.
Victor McAuley wrote:
Corporations and insurance – they are masters of the people they are the puppet politicians string pullers…….
And Victor, yes, the battle lines are very clearly drawn now for those who can see them.
Richard Osbourne wrote:
Haven’t heard that protest mentioned anywhere else. Brave young people are our future I hope.
Yes, it wasn’t covered in the mainstream media at all, Richard – not the rally outside the Parliament, the brief “die-in,” or the Parliamentary meeting at which MPs and other informed speakers spoke to a packed-out room of committed citizens and activists about the last hope for getting rid of the regulations that will lead to the wholesale privatisation of almost all NHS services – which is for the House of Lords to kick out the regulations in about three weeks. 350,000 people signed a petition opposing the regulations, and there was then an apparent climbdown by the government, but guess what? Very little changed, and the regulations are essentially the same. We need those 350,000 people to get out on the streets!
See here for all the necessary information about writing to the Lords: http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/write-letters-to-lords-now/
Richard Osbourne wrote:
Thanks Andy. It’s almost like the more we protest and demand, the more we are ignored.
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