Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo: Join the Protest outside Parliament on February 13, 2013


Please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for the return of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo.

On Wednesday February 13, between 11am and 1.30pm, I’ll be joining representatives of the Save Shaker Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign in Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, to call for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, on the 11th anniversary of the day that, in 2002, he was flown to Guantánamo from Afghanistan, arriving on February 14, the day that his youngest son was born.

Shaker, who is now 44 years old, and has spent a quarter of his life in Guantánamo, is “suffering from a list of ailments, including arthritis and serious asthma problems,” as the legal action charity Reprieve explained last month, prompting “grave fears for his health.” One of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity, recently returned from visiting Shaker in Guantánamo. According to unclassified notes of their meeting, Shaker told him, “The ERF team grab me harshly, bend my arms and my head and slam me to the floor. They shackle me and put me in the chair.”

Clive Stafford Smith said: “The US gulag Guantánamo Bay is a disgrace where men are abused, and where any notion of human rights or the rule of law is flagrantly disregarded. In the US films which purport to justify torture [Zero Dark Thirty] are being nominated for awards, those who did the torturing enjoying immunity and the courageous people who expose wrongdoing are prosecuted for violating secrecy. Those who continue to be subjected to abuse and indefinite detention are all but forgotten.”

He added, “I have seen Shaker very recently and all he wants is to come home to his wife and four children who are desperate to see him. The UK government must bring him home.”

Also speaking out to defend Shaker Aamer is the comedian Frankie Boyle, who helped Reprieve launch a legal challenge against the British government in December. Speaking of the terrible anniversary of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo, he said, “All Shaker wants is to come home. While the rest of us go on enjoying our lives, he remains under lock and key for no reason that anyone can fathom. It’s disgraceful and devastating to think that this has all been going on for eleven years. It’s time for the UK government to do what they keep saying they will, and get Shaker back.”

Wednesday’s demonstration, “Stand Up for Shaker Aamer,” is organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, and this is how they describe it: “Please come and join us to mark the day, eleven years ago, when British resident Shaker Aamer was transported to Guantánamo from Afghanistan, where he was working for a charity. Shaker still remains in Guantánamo, imprisoned without charge or trial [and] suffers torture every day despite having been cleared for release by the US over five years ago. We must not stand by and do nothing. Join us and stand up for justice for Shaker. Demand action now by the UK and US governments to end his terrible ordeal.”

The scandal of the ongoing imprisonment of Shaker Aamer is one that should shame both the British and American governments, and the citizens of both countries. First told that he was cleared for release over five years ago, he was then cleared for release again by the Obama administration’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, whose report and recommendations were issued three years ago, and yet he is still held.

His name is one of 55 on a list of cleared prisoners that was released by the Justice Department in September. This was the first public confirmation of his status, and while it is disgraceful that all 55 men are still held, Congress has raised obstacles to the release of the majority of the men, on the basis that their home countries pose a threat to the US. A notable exception is Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children await his return in south London. The UK has been America’s closest ally in the wretched “war on terror” declared after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and it is simply not credible for the US government to claim that it cannot release him, or for the British government to claim that it cannot secure his return.

Where is justice when the US government has publicly stated that it does not want to continue holding Shaker Aamer, and the British government has publicly stated that it wants him to be returned to the UK, and yet he is still held?

Join us in demanding an end to this disgraceful situation, and the prompt return of Shaker Aamer to the UK.

For more details, please call Ray Silk of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign on 07756 493877. Also, please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for the return of Shaker Aamer, which needs 100,000 signatures by April to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate, and currently has over 25,000 signatures. This is for UK citizens and residents only, although anyone anywhere in the world, including UK citizens and residents, can sign the international petition to both the US and UK government on the Care 2 Petition Site. Also please sign Amnesty International’s petition to President Obama calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, which currently has over 20,000 signatures. Also, please check out this show on Radio Free Brighton, in which the former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and I discuss Shaker’s case, and the ongoing scandal of Guantánamo in general.

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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, everyone, for liking and sharing. I hope to see some of you on Wednesday! If you’re a Twitter user, please post to #Shaker11Years, trending tonight! Hundreds more signatures for the petition secured tonight (UK only, sorry):
    An international petition is here:

  2. Thomas says...

    If he agreed not to sue the British government, they might let him back.

    As for the torture he’s been through, it’s disgusting. It doesn’t uncover terrorists as some might think, it just makes people say anything to make the torture stop.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Thomas. I’m not clear on what his legal situation is, because supposedly part of the financial settlement agreed with the released prisoners over two years ago involved Shaker, and while it doesn’t prevent ex-prsoners from speaking out, I believe it prevents them from suing the government. On the other hand, maybe the authorities think Shaker won’t agree to the settlement …

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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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