Bring Shaker Aamer Home from Guantánamo! Protest at State Opening of Parliament, May 25, 2010


From 10 am onwards on Tuesday May 25, to coincide with the State Opening of Parliament, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (with the support of the London Guantánamo Campaign) has organized a protest in Parliament Square calling for the immediate return from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. The protest, which may well last throughout the day, will, according to the organizers, “involve everyone wearing orange jumpsuits with individual placards held high and continuously slow walking around the square,” and those attending are encouraged to bring “orange jumpsuits, banners, placards, whistles and a picnic.”

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be attending the protest, and will be making my own call for the new coalition government to bring to an end Shaker’s long and unjust imprisonment (as well as calling for the UK to accept other cleared prisoners who cannot be repatriated, including Ahmed Belbacha, who lived here for nearly three years). Although Shaker was cleared for release in 2007, it is obvious that, as the foremost advocate of the prisoners’ rights, and as someone who has received harsh punishment as a result, he knows too much about Guantánamo — and about British complicity in torture — for either the US or UK government to want him freed.

In light of William Hague’s recent announcement that he is launching a judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture, I’ll be pointing out that such an inquiry will be worthless if Shaker is not released, as the Metropolitan Police are currently investigating claims that British agents were complicit in his torture in Afghanistan (as revealed in a UK court in December). As a result, securing Shaker’s return is not only essential for Mr. Hague’s inquiry, but will also send out another clear message that the new coalition government has made a clean break with the policies of its predecessors.

I aim to be at Parliament Square at around noon, and hope to see a number of the other speakers invited by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, who include: the journalist, author and playwright Victoria Brittain; Yvonne Ridley, the patron of Cageprisoners; Jean Lambert MEP; Jeremy Corbyn MP; Kate Hudson, Chair, CND; George Galloway, former MP; Bruce McKenzie, Wandsworth Green Party; Joy Hurcombe, Brighton Against Guantánamo; John Clossick, Chair, Wandsworth Stop the War Coalition; and Chris Nineham, National Officer, Stop the War Coalition. Also invited are the new Battersea MP Jane Ellison (Conservative), former MP Martin Linton (Labour) and Layla Moran (Battersea Liberal Democrat candidate).

Please come along for this protest, if you can, and let other people know about it. As the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign notes, “It is likely that many more people will be in the area than usual for the State Opening, so there will be ample opportunity for publicising our campaign.”

Note: For further information, please contact Ray Silk of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign on 07756 493877 or 020 7223 0234, and please see here for a letter to William Hague, calling for Shaker’s return. There is also a feedback form for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office here, should you wish to send your letter via the web.

Andy Worthington is 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). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and currently on tour in the UK), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

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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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