Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, Parliamentary Vigil, October 9, 2013, a set on Flickr.
On Wednesday October 9, 2013, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign held a vigil outside Parliament for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo, whose British wife and four British children await his return in south London.
Shaker — along with 83 other men still held, out of 164 prisoners in total — was cleared for release by a military review board under the Bush administration in 2007, and by President Obama’s inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force in January 2010, but he is still held because of Congressional obstructions, and President Obama’s unwillingness to spend political capital overcoming those obstacles. Although the British government has been calling for his return since 2007, it is also apparent that his release has not been made a significant enough priority by ministers, or he would have been freed by now.
The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign held lunchtime vigils outside Parliament every weekday for several months before Parliament’s summer recess began in July 2013 (see my photos and articles here and here), and will be holding lunchtime vigils every Wednesday in October 2013, calling for Shaker’s release, of course, but, if that is not immediately forthcoming, then demanding a full Parliamentary debate about his case. This follows the 100,000 signatures that were secured on an e-petition that was supposed to lead to a Parliamentary debate about his case, although all that has happened to date is a backbench debate in Westminster Hall, on April 24, where fine words were spoken, but no demonstrative action ensued (see the transcript here and here).
The ongoing imprisonment of Shaker Aamer remains thoroughly unacceptable, but his supporters are to commended for working so assiduously to raise awareness of his plight, as are his lawyers, who have recently submitted a complaint to a UK tribunal, which investigates complaints about the conduct of the UK’s intelligence agencies, and to a US court, calling for him to be allowed to have an independent medical evaluation. There is also an appeal ongoing in his attempt, with other prisoners, to have a US judge rule that force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners at Guantánamo must be prohibited.
To take further action, please sign and share the international petition calling for Shaker Aamer’s release from Guantanamo, and, if you’re in the UK, write to your MP to ask them to call for a full Parliamentary debate about his case. A letter is here, and you can contact your MP here.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. If you’re in London, future vigils are from 1-3 pm on the remaining Wednesdays in October: 16th, 23rd and 30th. Do come along and show support if you can!
If you’re not in London, please sign the international petition, which now has 5,000+ signatures, so can you help us reach our 10,000 target? http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/shaker-aamerguantanamo-bay/
On Facebook, Jackie Judd wrote:
Keep up the good work, Andy!! I admire your persistence, and I’m behind you all the way.
Thanks, Jackie. Great to hear from you, and thanks for the supportive words.
Amy Phillips wrote:
thank you for sharing these and thank you for your continued commitment to Shaker and the prisoners of Guatanamo. it’s easy to lose focus on this injustice in the throes of everyday (boring) life. keep prodding so we demand justice for the voiceless!
Great to hear from you, Amy, and thank you for the support as I – and many others – keep calling for justice for those in Guantanamo.
Pauline Kiernan wrote:
Thanks for sharing, Pauline. It’s much appreciated.
On Facebook, I posted the photo of me in Parliament Square, and wrote:
Here I am calling for the release of Shaker Aamer from #Guantanamo in Parliament Square yesterday – and also calling for Parliament to have the full debate about Shaker’s case that over 117,000 of us called for in an e-petition. A backbench debate in Westminster Hall is not enough. We need ministers to be put on the spot in the main chamber of the House of Commons.
Waris Ali wrote:
People can write to their MPs (preferably handwritten) and request a full parliamentary debate. Template provided here >
Thanks, Waris. And here’s the easiest route to locate and write to your MP: http://www.writetothem.com/
Waris Ali wrote:
Indeed, have shared the action alert quite a few times via the save shaker Facebook and Twitter over the past few weeks. asking people to lobby their MPs and providing the http://www.writetothem.com link for people to use. Though in other posts asking them to make an appointment with their MP, take a few friends with them and impress upon them the importance of the issue as well. As you know image posts get a lot more shares Andy, so on your next post maybe make it an image one, and in the post mention the link for people to use and the template?
Words to chill a writer’s heart, Waris: “As you know image posts get a lot more shares Andy, so on your next post maybe make it an image”! I’m half-kidding, of course, as I’m a photographer as well as a writer, but the writer in me is always sad to hear about how much more readily people respond to pictures!
Willy Bach wrote:
Shared Andy, if David Cameron is good at anything, it is ignoring the obvious – perhaps it is a specially learned skill at Eton, with an imperious aversion of eye contact.
Thanks, Willy. Yes, Cameron’s a difficult one to nail down, isn’t he, as he’s so obviously prepared to say anything that might keep him and his wretched party in power. He’s like the Frankenstein heir of Tony Blair.
Patricia Sheerin-Richman wrote:
Please don’t just like and share. If you are in London please join the vigil every Wednesday during October 1 – 3pm.
Carol Anne Grayson wrote:
Great… well done…
Mohammad Zubair Khan wrote:
Good, we are with you
Dejanka Bryant wrote:
Shared Andy, with links provided by Waris Ali and you.
Waris Ali wrote:
Lol i understand Andy However some people would rather not read detailed articles that take 5/10 minutes to read (though i do read most of yours) We do what is most effective, through all the different ways and means available to us, including of course via the social media. To target not just those already following us/involved in some way, but the wider audience to draw them in..
Patricia, yes, it would be great to see more people there every Wednesday. I’m going to try and get there every week myself.
Thanks, Carol, Mohammad and Dejanka. Your support is very much appreciated. And Waris, yes, communication by all means necessary! I’m only half joking about a writer’s woes. It was ever thus. Imagine if Abu Ghraib-style photos had ever been released from Guantanamo. It might have been closed by now …
And just to reinforce that, Waris, I have 74 likes for the photo – more than for most of my articles!
Asif Rana wrote:
It’s every Wednesday? Parliament Square? What time please?
Asif, 1-3 pm every Wednesday, so the 16th, the 23rd and the 30th. It would be great to see you there!
Being a non-Londoner and knowing how dreadfully big the Parliament building is, is there a more specific direction than just ‘Parliament Square’?
Such as nearest Tube station(s), main Road etc, to save unnecessary wandering around in what might be cold and damp London weather ? Thanks in advance :-).
Good point, Anna, although Parliament Square is not a huge space. The protest takes place on the side nearest Parliament. which is just a few hundred meters from the nearest tube – Westminster, on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines.
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