Today (December 15), the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with campaigner Joanne MacInnes three weeks ago secured a ringing endorsement from the Daily Mail — which highlighted Shaker’s plight in a front-page story and editorial on Friday — with the publication, in today’s edition of the Daily Mail, of an open letter to David Cameron, which I wrote, calling for the PM “to pick up the phone to President Obama, and to bring Shaker Aamer home.” The letter was also published on the We Stand With Shaker website.
The open letter is signed by dozens of actors, comedians, politicians, writers and other prominent individuals, including music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) and Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, who both attended the launch on November 24, the comedian Frankie Boyle, the journalist Jemima Khan, actress Juliet Stevenson, actor Mark Rylance, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, and Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK.
More signatories will be published in the Daily Mail tomorrow — and I will be updating the list here and on the We Stand With Shaker website accordingly.
The full letter is below. Please feel free to share it widely! There is a real momentum to the campaign at the moment, with lots of TV coverage today, and a profile of the campaign in the Guardian‘s G2 supplement. Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
What a busy week it’s been — with major campaigning for the release of Shaker Aamer as part of the We Stand With Shaker campaign I launched two weeks ago, and the release of the executive summary of the Senate torture report, which has secured more condemnation of torture than I have ever seen before — even if Dick Cheney is still on the “dark side.”
It’s the end of my quarterly fundraising week, and this is my last request until February 2015 for financial support for my work on Guantánamo, the case of Shaker Aamer and investigating and analyzing the torture program. Most of the work I do to educate people about Guantánamo and torture, and to campaign to get the prison closed and prisoners released, is unpaid — or, rather, is unpaid unless it is funded by you.
If you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to donate via PayPal (and I should add that you don’t need to be a PayPal member to use PayPal).
All contributions to support my work are welcome, whether it’s $25, $100 or $500 — or, of course, the equivalent in pounds sterling or any other currency. You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re in London on Saturday and can get to Brockley (SE4, two stops from London Bridge, three stops from Canada Water), I’ll be showcasing another of my interests, in addition to being a human rights journalist and campaigner — singing in a band, playing the campaign song I wrote for the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with Joanne MacInnes two weeks ago.
My band The Four Fathers are playing at the Brockley Christmas Market, on Coulgate Street, right next to Brockley Station, from 1.30 to 2pm, and everyone is welcome. The event is free, and there will be loads of welcoming stalls selling Christmas presents, food and drink.
The We Stand With Shaker campaign seeks to secure the release from Guantánamo, without further delay, of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who is still held, despite being cleared for release in 2007 and 2009, and despite the British government’s official position — that it is seeking his release and his return to his family in London. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, December 10, was Human Rights Day, marking the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (on December 10, 1948). Its 30 articles provided a benchmark for decent behaviour following the atrocities of the Second World War, and they have been enormously influential, leading, for example, to the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified in 1987.
However, after the dreadful terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US swept aside laws and treaties dealing with the treatment of prisoners, embracing torture — as revealed on Tuesday in the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, which I wrote about here — and engaging in a widespread program of kidnapping (“extraordinary rendition”) and indefinite detention without charge or trial.
A bleakly iconic manifestation of the US governments post-9/11 flight from the law is Guantánamo, where 136 men still languish, hoping that the uproar over the CIA’s torture program and its network of”black sites” will not mean that they — who have also suffered, and continue to suffer the torture of open-ended arbitrary detention, and, in some cases, brutal force-feeding — will be overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
Can you help to support my work on Guantánamo and torture — including the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison?
My work — my writing, my campaigning, my media appearances and personal appearances — is largely unfunded: or, to put it another way, is only funded if you, my readers and supporters, provide donations to support me.
If you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to donate via PayPal (and I should add that you don’t need to be a PayPal member to use PayPal). Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
Every three months I ask you, if you can, to support my work on Guantánamo and the “war on terror” by making a donation. Most of the work I do to educate people about Guantánamo, and to campaign to get the prison closed, is unpaid — or, rather, it is unpaid unless it is funded by you, my readers — and this quarter is no exception.
I recently launched a campaign called We Stand With Shaker, specifically to try and secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. With a colleague, Joanne MacInnes, we launched it two weeks ago, and we seem to be getting noticed, in particular through our photos of celebrities — including actors, comedians, politicians, journalists and musicians — standing with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker. Some of you may also be surprised to discover that I also wrote and sang the campaign song, featured in the official video for the campaign.
This project has been taking up a huge amount of time, although, like so much of my work, it is completely unfunded, so any assistance you can provide will be very gratefully received, as the campaign continues, with new initiatives planned for the next few months, as well as the daily updates of celebrities standing with Shaker. Read the rest of this entry »
Below is a short video, on Vimeo, of me (Andy Worthington) talking to doctor and filmmaker Saleyha Ahsan about the launch of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, to secure the release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, which took place outside Parliament on Monday. Please also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and watch the campaign video here. [Click on the photo of me at the launch with Roger Waters and campaign co-ordinator Joanne MacInnes to enlarge it].
Saleyha filmed me after the launch, and I explained who had been there — Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, Caroline Lucas, John McDonnell, Jeremy Hardy and Peter Tatchell — and I also explained why the campaign is so important: because Shaker has twice been approved for release by the US (in 2007 and 2009), and his return to the UK has been requested by successive governments since August 2007, and therefore his ongoing imprisonment is completely unacceptable.
He continues to be held, it seems certain, because he is eloquent, and has always resisted the injustices of the US-led “war on terror” — with its torture, rendition, and indefinite detention without charge or trial — and because he is a fount of information about the crimes committed in the name of this “war,” but as both the US and UK governments have proven adept at preventing any court from holding them accountable for their actions, it would seems clear that he continues to be held solely because, on release, he may embarrass both governments.
Although the US appears to want to return him to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth, where he will be silenced, that is not an option, as he was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and the British government has a non-negotiable obligation to secure his return to his family in the UK. We call on David Cameron to call Barack Obama immediately to demand that he give 30 days’ notice prior to Shaker’s release, as required in US law (in legislation passed by cynical Republican politicians), and then send a plane to bring Shaker back. With immediate action Shaker could be back in the new year.
Also, this week, I spoke about We Stand With Shaker with Bay Area radio host Peter B. Collins, for his show “Processing Distortion” on whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post website. The show is only available to subscribers (for a minimum payment of $6, for which listeners get a whole month of broadcasts), but I can recommend it. Peter and I have spoken many times before, and he is a particularly well-informed host. A 90-second preview of me talking about the British government’s evasion regarding Shaker’s case is here.
This is how Peter described the show:
In the second of two reports on Guantánamo prisoners [the first was with Jon B. Eisenberg, one of the lawyers for hunger striking prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab], Andy Worthington details the new campaign to bring home Shaker Aamer, the last Briton at Gitmo. With a large, inflatable “Shaker” and a heartfelt endorsement from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, activists are demanding that the Cameron government negotiate the immediate release of Aamer, who has been held for 13 years without charge or trial, and was cleared for release 5 years ago. We talk about the recent transfer of 6 prisoners, with 10 more reported to be imminent, and the disappointing recent ruling about force feeding by Judge Gladys Kessler. Roger Waters makes a cameo appearance.
I made other media appearances in the week, but sadly most of them are not online. I was on RT’s main news at 6pm on Monday, and a film crew from the Islam Channel interviewed me at my house on Wednesday for a show broadcast on Wednesday evening that also featured my colleague on the campaign, Joanne MacInnes, and Katie Taylor of Reprieve‘s Life After Guantánamo project. As I say, though, neither is online.
However, a third appearance will definitely be online soon — mine and Jo’s appearance on RT’s Sputnik show with George Galloway, which we recorded on Thursday, and which is broadcast today (Saturday November 29) — at 1.30, 7.30 and 11.30pm.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the 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 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.
I’ve just written my first article for Al-Jazeera America, “Why is Shaker Aamer still at Gitmo?” and I’m very much hoping that you have the time to read it, and to share it on Facebook and Twitter.
In my article, I run through the history of the prison’s labyrinthine review processes and the reasons why the release of prisoners has become a shameful game of political football, and I look at the particular reasons why both the US and UK governments are not being honest about Shaker’s case.
I think this provides a succinct and powerful overview of why Shaker has not yet been released — and of what Guantánamo is and remains, and why it will always be a legal, moral and ethical abomination until it is shut down for good. Read the rest of this entry »
What a day it’s been! A great launch, for We Stand With Shaker, the new campaign to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, including the launch of our website, which features photos of supporters all around the world holding their own signs that say “I Stand With Shaker.”
Also released today — and also on the website — is the campaign video, made by Billy Dudley, featuring my band The Four Fathers performing “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the song I wrote for the campaign, which is available below, via YouTube. Please watch it if you have three minutes to spare, and please share it if you like it:
Our special guest for the launch in Old Palace Yard, opposite Parliament, was Roger Waters (Pink Floyd’s chief songwriter), who told me last night that he was coming, but we were also delighted to welcome Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve (and Shaker’s lawyer for many years), Green MP Caroline Lucas, John McDonnell MP (who has organised a Parliamentary meeting tomorrow evening with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, at which I’m speaking), the comedian Jeremy Hardy and, unexpectedly, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday I announced the launch of “We Stand With Shaker,” a new campaign to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and his return to his family — his British wife and four British children — in south London. Shamefully, for both the US and the UK governments, Shaker is still held despite being approved for release under President Bush in 2007, and under President Obama in 2009. This is an intolerable situation, and every day that he remains held ought to be a source of profound shame for the UK and US governments.
The “We Stand With Shaker” campaign will be officially launched on Monday November 24, the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s capture, at 12.30pm, in Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Parliament (by the statue of King George V), when some of the campaign’s high-profile supporters — including lawyers, politicians, journalists and comedians — will stand with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, the centrepiece of the campaign, and the “elephant in the room” when it comes to the UK’s dealings with the US, and will call for his immediate release.
Tomorrow we will be issuing a press release providing full details about the launch, and on Monday our website will go live. As well as featuring photos of celebrities standing with the inflatable figure of Shaker, the website will also feature a promotional video for the campaign, focused on my band The Four Fathers performing “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the campaign song that I wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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