We Stand With Shaker Aamer: 70th Celebrity Photo Published, As Campaign to Free Him from Guantánamo Continues

21.4.15

Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes of We Stand With Shaker with music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) at the launch of the campaign outside the Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2014 (Photo: Stefano Massimo).Today, the We Stand With Shaker campaign, launched last November by the campaigning freelance journalist Andy Worthington and the activist Joanne MacInnes to call for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, published the 70th photo of a high-profile supporter standing with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker that is at the heart of the campaign.

The 70th photo was of the journalist Yvonne Ridley, who joins a roll-call of MPs — from across the political spectrum — as well as actors, comedians, writers, directors, musicians, and activists who have stood with Shaker outside Parliament, and at a variety of locations across London, since the campaign began.

The inflatable figure has proven to be one of those campaigning tools that captures people’s imagination, and our launch — attended by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, comedian Jeremy Hardy, activist Peter Tatchell and the MPs John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) and Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion) — was swiftly followed by high-level support from the Daily Mail, which ran a front-page story condemning Shaker’s ongoing imprisonment, almost eight years after he was first approved for release by the US authorities, and then followed up with support for the campaign and for our open letter to David Cameron, which MPs and our celebrity supporters signed in significant numbers.

Unfortunately, Shaker has still not been released, but the campaign — and the ongoing campaigning of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, as well as the political pressure that was consolidated when John McDonnell set up the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, led to David Cameron raising the issue of Shaker’s ongoing imprisonment with Barack Obama at a meeting in January (when the president promised to “prioritise” his case), and, in March, led to a Parliamentary debate at which the British government supported the motion, “That this House calls on the US Government to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay and to allow him to return to his family in the UK.” Read the transcript here and here.

Speaking for the British government, Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP and a junior minister in the Foreign Office, said, “I hope I have made it clear that the UK Government are absolutely committed to securing the release of Mr Aamer. Today I would like to underline that commitment and join the House in calling for the US Government to approve the release of Shaker Aamer to the UK.”

Next month, a Parliamentary delegation will be visiting Washington D.C. to “meet with individuals, officials and organisations who may be able to influence events and keep President Obama to his promise to ‘prioritise’ Shaker Aamer’s case and to ensure his release as a matter of the utmost urgency.” The delegation has almost raised the £5,000 needed to fund the visit, but if you would like to donate please visit this Crowdfunder page established by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.

We also hope that British supporters of Shaker’s case will ask the candidates standing in their constituencies for the General Election on May 7 to show their support for Shaker’s release to his family in the UK, and, if elected, to join the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group. You can contact all your Parliamentary candidates via YourNextMP.com, where you enter your postcode (or find your constituency on an alphabetical list), and get all the candidates’ details. It’s a great resource!

Below is the list of the 70 MP and celebrity photos published to date, with links to the images on the We Stand With Shaker website, which can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. All the images can also be seen on our website here, and also on our Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, photos of supporters holding up placards showing their support for Shaker can be found here.

The 70 MPs, celebrities and activists who have stood with Shaker

1 Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director, Reprieve
2 George Galloway MP (Respect, Bradford West)
3 Roger Waters, musician, ex-Pink Floyd
4 Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
5 Shaykh Suliman Ghani, teacher and broadcaster
6 Benjamin Zephaniah, dub poet and writer
7 John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington, and chair of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group)
8 Jeremy Hardy, comedian
9 Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
10 Nick Davies, journalist
11 Sara Pascoe, comedian
12 Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green party
13 Janet Ellis, actress and TV presenter
14 Andy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith)
15 Mark Thomas, comedian and author
16 Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party, London)
17 Seumas Milne, journalist
18 Sarah Gillespie, singer-songwriter
19 John Pilger, journalist and documentary film-maker
20 Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General
21 Juliet Stevenson, actress
22 Frankie Boyle, comedian
23 Mark Rylance, actor and director
24 John Rees, writer, broadcaster, co-founder, Stop the War Coalition
25 Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle)
26 Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North)
27 Vanessa Redgrave, actress
28 Helena Kennedy QC, Labour peer
29 Lisa Appignanesi, writer, former President of English PEN
30 Harriet Walter, actress
31 Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat, Lewes)
32 Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East)
33 Gillian Slovo, novelist and playwright, co-author, ‘Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’
34 Tom Wilner, US lawyer
35 Peter Oborne, journalist
36 Baroness Jenny Jones (Green, London Assembly member)
37 The staff of Reprieve
38 Ken Loach, film director
39 William Hoyland, Jan Chappell, Alan Parnaby, Gillian Slovo, Daniel Cerqueira, Nicolas Kent, Patrick Robinson and Sacha Wares, ‘Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’ cast and creators
40 Hamja Ahsan, human rights activist
41 Rhys Ifans, actor
42 Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge)
43 Bill Paterson, actor
44 Sir Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat, Colchester)
45 John Leech MP (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington)
46 Ann Clwyd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley)
47 Cori Crider, lawyer, Reprieve
48 Roger Godsiff MP (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green)
49 Anna Perera, author, ‘Guantánamo Boy’
50 David Ward MP (Liberal Democrat, Bradford East)
51 Mike Leigh, writer, film director and theatre director
52 Nicolas Kent, theatre director
53 Nick Harvey MP (Liberal Democrat, North Devon)
54 Clare Solomon, journalist
55 Alistair Burt MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire)
56 Gavin Shuker MP (Labour and Cooperative, Luton South)
57 Matt Foot, solicitor
58 George Barda, Occupy
59 Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham)
60 Maxine Peake, actress
61 Shaker Aamer’s sons
62 Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
63 Mark Lazarowicz MP (Labour/Co-operative, Edinburgh North and Leith)
64 Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)
65 Neil Carmichael MP (Conservative, Stroud)
66 Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
67 Kate Hoey MP (Labour, Vauxhall)
68 Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition
69 Bruce Kent, peace activist
70 Yvonne Ridley, journalist and broadcaster

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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.

14 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    As I mentioned above, you can contact all your Parliamentary candidates via YourNextMP.com, where you enter your postcode (or find your constituency on an alphabetical list), and get all the candidates’ details. It’s a great resource!
    https://yournextmp.com/

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Sue Wilson wrote:

    What’s the hold up? Just let him home to his family.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    We’re starting to realise that the real roadblock seems to be the Pentagon, Sue, where people with responsibility for Guantanamo seem to be unwilling to allow him to be freed – probably because of what he knows, and his reputation for speaking out. They want him sent to Saudi Arabia instead, where he’d be silenced, but we can’t countenance that, of course.

  4. Martin Walker says...

    Looks like he might be freed by the end of the year along with the remaining Moroccan and Mauritanian detainees.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/facing-threat-in-congress-pentagon-races-to-resettle-guantanamo-inmates/2015/04/22/e001e328-e82a-11e4-9a6a-c1ab95a0600b_story.html

    The periodic review board is surprisingly being fair but firm. They’ve approved the release of most of the detainees that have appeared so far. I suspect most of the remaining detainees not recommended will be approved for release but the extremely dangerous terrorist leaders and operatives (Hambali, Abu Faraj al-Libi, Riyadh the Facilitator, Mohammed Qahtani) will remain in custody for life.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Martin. Not sure if Slahi gets to be released just yet, or the other Moroccan, Abdul Latif, but Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz and Younus Chekhouri should have been freed long ago, along with Shaker, of course.
    Eventually, I hope we’ll get to a situation where just a few dozen men are being held, and then we’ll be able to discuss whether it’s really feasible – if justice is to have any meaning – for prisoners who are not going to be tried to be held for the rest of their lives.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    So, to clarify, yesterday the Washington Post claimed that the Obama administration plans to release up to 10 prisoners, possibly in June, including a Mauritanian, a Moroccan, six Yemenis (to third countries), and Shaker Aamer to the UK. I am, of course, very much hoping that this will prove to be true. I’ll be writing in more detail about it soon.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/facing-threat-in-congress-pentagon-races-to-resettle-guantanamo-inmates/2015/04/22/e001e328-e82a-11e4-9a6a-c1ab95a0600b_story.html

  7. Martin says...

    Yeah, thanks for clarifying. I wasn’t talking about Slahi. I was talking about Chekhouri. I doubt Slahi will be freed anytime soon. He allegedly recruited some 9/11 hijackers to al-Qaeda according to former FBI agent Ali Soufan and he’s related to a former al-Qaeda religious leader who has since left the group.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, all I meant, Martin, is that there are two Mauritanians and two Moroccans still there. Slahi should be freed, as the judge who approved his habeas petition recognized. From my recollection of the story, Slahi met some of the 9/11 hijackers in Germany, but he didn’t recruit them. They wanted to go to Chechnya; he told them that was difficult, and they might prefer to go to Afghanistan. He’s related to Abu Hafs, the al-Qaeda spiritual leader who, crucially, was opposed to the 9/11 plan.

  9. martin says...

    Never mind. It looks like the releases won’t happen anytime soon. I jumped the gun.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article19346010.html

  10. Martin says...

    Sorry for forgetting about Abdul Latif. As for whether he or Slahi should be freed, I’ll leave that up to the Periodic Review Board though it will probably take years for them to review Latif and Slahi.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I think the Miami Herald article is a little too pessimistic, Martin. Ashton Carter doesn’t have the files yet, to sign off on, but the Post never claimed he did. Obviously I can’t say what Carter will do, as it’s entirely up to him, and he must take responsibility for signing any certifications, but I don’t see any practical obstruction to the release of any of these men. If so, they should never have been approved for release in the first place.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I think it would be fairer to the men to have the PRBs taking place more quickly, Martin, but I understand that they involve quite senior officials, who have a lot of pressure on their time.

  13. Martin says...

    I hope you’re right about Rosenberg being pessimistic. As for the PRB schedules, I remember you saying it would take until around 2030 for all the reviews to take place.

    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/03/05/a-few-surprises-in-the-new-guantanamo-prisoner-list/

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Martin. The process is moving slightly faster now, but it will still take many years, unfortunately.

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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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