Send a letter to David Miliband calling for the return from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer


Shaker Aamer and two of his childrenThroughout 2010, former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and I are touring the UK, showing the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself). The film focuses on the stories of three British residents — Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and Omar — and throughout the tour we are encouraging audiences to campaign on behalf of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still held at Guantánamo, despite being cleared for release in 2007.

Omar and I are primarily encouraging people to write letters to foreign secretary David Miliband, urging him to do more to secure Shaker’s return, and I’m extending this campaign to the internet by reproducing below a letter that readers can cut and paste and send to David Miliband. The letter was drafted by the London Guantánamo Campaign, and I’ve come up with my own edit, but please feel free to come up with your own version.

Further information about Shaker can be found here, here, here and here, and you can also email David Miliband and write to Prime Minister Gordon Brown via an Amnesty International campaign page here. You can also urge your MP to sign an Early Day Motion calling for Shaker’s release, proposed by Shaker’s MP, Martin Linton (you can contact your MP here).

And finally, if you wouldn’t mind spreading the word further, you can follow the advice of Shaker’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, who told the audience at the NFT for last Saturday’s screening of “Outside the Law” that we should initiate a new campaign, “10 x 10 x 10 for Shaker Aamer,” whereby everyone concerned about this gross miscarriage of justice urges ten people they know to send a letter to David Miliband, and each of these ten people is urged to tell another ten people, and so on.

Please cut and paste the letter below, and feel free to change it as you see fit:

David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH

Dear Foreign Secretary,

You will be aware that, as of 22 January this year, the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay was still open, despite the fact that one of President Obama’s first pledges as President was to close it by this date. 183 prisoners are still held there, and many of those men, cleared for release by the President’s own task Force, cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will be tortured or subjected to other ill-treatment, and are effectively stateless.

The government has succeeded over the past six years in securing the release of all the British nationals held there, and all but one of the British residents. Given our strong relationship with the US, there is far more that the British government could — and should — be doing. You have asserted your commitment to closing Guantánamo Bay, but this has yet to be demonstrated in the case of the final British resident, Shaker Aamer, who was cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2007.

We have been told that the return of Shaker Aamer to his British wife and four British children is being sought, and that discussions between the UK and the US are ongoing. Nevertheless, Shaker is still held, and intervention must be made at the highest levels to secure his release, as happened with other prisoners.

Other European countries have demonstrated over the past year that it is possible to offer new homes to cleared prisoners, even when they have no prior ties to the country. France, for example, having secured the return of its own nationals, accepted two Algerian nationals last year, as well as the family of one of these men, and Albania, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland have also accepted prisoners on a purely humanitarian basis. There are no reasons for the British government not to accept a small number of prisoners on a humanitarian basis to help close Guantánamo Bay.

Over the past eight years, for example, you have argued that there is no basis to accept Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian man who lived in Bournemouth and cannot return to Algeria for fear for his life, because he was a failed asylum seeker. Mr. Belbacha was also cleared for release in 2007, and yet he remains in Guantánamo because no other country will take him, and because the British government, which could so easily offer him a new home, has turned its back on him.

The British government must demonstrate its commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law by helping to close down Guantánamo Bay, and it can — and should — do this by pressing for the return of Shaker Aamer, accepting Ahmed Belbacha and accepting other prisoners on a humanitarian basis.

Yours faithfully,

5 Responses

  1. Free Shaker Aamer « Ten Percent says...

    […] Free Shaker Aamer 7 March, 2010 — RickB Shaker Aamer is basically a hostage because he is a witness to events behind the murder of three other detainees, he is not being released in order to protect murderers in the US detention forces and because he also has been tortured which both the US & UK govts want to cover up. A hostage held by criminal gangs who also run an empire and an empire’s poodle- Send a letter to David Miliband calling for the return from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer By Andy Worthington […]

  2. Peace Activist says...

    Dear Andy Worthington and All,
    I’m just about to send off this campaign letter, I’ve done Shaker Aamer campain letters before, but I do believe we must keep on sending these until we get him back.

  3. Shaker Aamer’s continued detention ‘purely political’ « Earwicga says...

    […] Milliband to urge him to push for Shaker Aamer’s release by letter as set out by Andy Worthington and by email as set out by Amnesty.  Also, ensure your MP has signed up to EDM 547, and if they […]

  4. Alexandra Mafham says...

    Hi, I have written several letters, not only to Milliband and my MP, but also to Obama and Daniel Fried, esp in relation to Ahmed Belbacha. I notice there is an EDM for Ahaker Aamer, but did anyone from Bournemouth ever initiate an EDM for Belbacha esp in light of the fact that the injunction preventing his forced repatriation to Algeria has been revoked?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Alexandra,
    Thanks for getting in touch. That’s an interesting point about Ahmed and the Bournemouth connection. Perhaps you could get in touch with Ahmed’s lawyers at Reprieve and ask about whether the local MP has been contacted.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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