Andy Worthington Speaks at Parliamentary Meeting Calling for the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, November 25, 2014

18.11.14

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign's poster for the Parliamentary Meeting for Shaker Aamer, organised by John McDonnell MP on November 25, 2014.Next Tuesday, November 25 — the day after the launch of the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I’m working on with my colleague Jo MacInnes, and support from numerous groups including Reprieve and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign — I’ll be speaking at a Parliamentary meeting organised by John McDonnell, the indefatigable Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, calling for Shaker Aamer’s immediate release from Guantánamo and his safe return to his family in London. [Click on the image to the left to enlarge it].

Shaker Aamer, 47, is the last British resident in Guantánamo, with a British wife and four British children who live in south London. November 24 is the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s capture by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, where he had travelled with his family to provide humanitarian aid.

The details of the event are as follows, and I should stress that everyone is welcome, although if you do come along please allow plenty of time before the 7pm start to clear the House of Commons security.

Tuesday November 25, 2014, 7-9pm: Parliamentary Meeting – Release Shaker Aamer Now!
Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London WC1A 0AA.

With John McDonnell MP, Louise Christian (solicitor), Shaykh Sulaiman Ghani (imam, Tooting Islamic Centre), Kate Hudson (chair, CND), Joy Hurcombe (chair, SSAC), Bruce Kent, Victoria Brittain, Andy Worthington and (tbc) Clive Stafford Smith, the founder and director of Reprieve.

Please, if you’re in the UK, contact your MP and ask them to come along to show their support — or to explain why they are not interested.

This meeting follows Parliamentary meetings arranged by John McDonnell last December, and in June this year, to keep pressure on the government, and to encourage other MPs to take an interest in the plight of Shaker Aamer, who is still held despite being approved for release under President Bush in 2007, and under President Obama in 2009, following the deliberations of the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that the president established shortly after taking office for the first time in January 2009.

As I explained in an article two days ago, promoting the We Stand With Shaker campaign:

After [Shaker’s] capture in Afghanistan on November 24, 2001, he ended up in US custody at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where, he says, British agents were present when he was abused by US personnel. He arrived in Guantánamo on February 14, 2002, which is, of course, Valentine’s Day — and is also the day his youngest son was born.

Throughout his imprisonment, Shaker has stood up for the rights of all the prisoners seized in the “war on terror,” and in Guantánamo, as his lawyers at Reprieve have explained, he “has often gone on hunger strike to peacefully protest the appalling conditions and brutal treatment to which he and other [prisoners] are subjected. As a result of what the prison sees as his ‘non-compliance’, [he] is confined to a 6 by 8 foot windowless cell and is frequently forced to undergo extended periods in solitary confinement.”

His treatment has also had a devastating effect on his health, both physically and mentally. In December 2013, Dr. Emily A. Keram, an independent psychiatrist, visited Guantánamo for five days to evaluate Shaker, concluding that he has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and “additional psychiatric symptoms related to his current confinement that are not included in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD but which also gravely diminish his mental health,” as described in a US court submission in April.

Dr. Keram also provided a list of Shaker’s extensive physical ailments, including severe edema (swelling caused by fluid retention in the body’s tissues, and also known as dropsy), severe migraines, asthma, chronic urinary retention, otitis media (middle ear infection), tinnitus, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux disease) and constipation.

Although the British government has repeatedly stated that they want Shaker released from Guantánamo and returned to his family in London, it can only be concluded that they have not made his release a non-negotiable priority in their dealings with President Obama.

I do hope that, if you’re in the UK, you’ll contact your MP, and, if you’re in London, that you’ll come along to the Parliamentary meeting. I also hope, if you haven’t yet joined us, that you’ll join the We Stand With Shaker campaign and follow us on Twitter here. London residents are also invited to attend the press launch at 1pm on Monday January 24 in Old Palace Yard, opposite Parliament, by the statue of King George V, which will be attended by high-profile supporters including several MPs.

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 six-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, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

5 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    So we reached 600 likes on the We Stand With Shaker Facebook page! Next target is 700. I’m just back from a three hour session filming the promo video for the campaign – of my band playing “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the campaign song I wrote, which will be released on Monday. Earlier today Joanne MacInnes and I took some more promotional shots here in south east London and finalised the logo for the campaign (coming tomorrow), and tomorrow I’ll also be at Parliament working with some supportive MPs.
    See: https://www.facebook.com/WeStandWithShaker
    And: https://twitter.com/StandWithShaker

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Thanks Andy, hope the parliamentary meeting is well attended. Do you know if there can be a livestream done? Glad to see We Stand With Shaker growing so rapidly before we’ve officially begun. Will share your post via Save Shaker tomorrow evening, Its late now.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Waris. It’s a pity you can’t be here – for the launch of We Stand With Shaker as well as the Parliamentary meeting. No idea re: livestreaming – is there anyone down here you know who’d be interested in filming it? They should probably get in touch with John McDonnell via Ray Silk of SSAC.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    Andy, this looks like traction at last… after so much hard work. Let’s be hoping it will work this time and I will be there in spirit at least.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    I will be thinking of you, Willy – and thank you very much for your support. It is greatly appreciated!

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Andy Worthington

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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