“We Stand With Shaker,” A New Campaign Calling for the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo, Launches Monday Nov. 24


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Next Monday, November 24, I’m launching a new campaign, “We Stand With Shaker,” with my colleague Jo MacInnes, and the support of organisations including Reprieve, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and Close Guantánamo, calling for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, born in Saudi Arabia, who has a British wife and four British children.

Please follow us on Twitter, and like and share us on Facebook. The website will follow in the next few days, and there’ll be a launch outside Parliament on Monday Nov. 24, the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s capture by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, where he had travelled with his family to provide humanitarian aid.

November 24 will also see the release of a promotional video for the campaign, featuring my band The Four Fathers performing “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the campaign song that I wrote. Furthermore, key elements of the campaign involve celebrities and members of the public — across the world — showing support for the campaign, and I’ll be providing more details about that in the next few days.

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, following the deliberations of the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that the president established shortly after taking office for the first time in January 2009.

After his capture in Afghanistan on November 24, 2001, he ended up in US custody at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, where, he says, British agents were present when he was abused by US personnel. He arrived in Guantánamo on February 14, 2002, which is, of course, Valentine’s Day — and is also the day his youngest son was born.

Throughout his imprisonment, Shaker has stood up for the rights of all the prisoners seized in the “war on terror,” and in Guantánamo, as his lawyers at Reprieve have explained, he “has often gone on hunger strike to peacefully protest the appalling conditions and brutal treatment to which he and other [prisoners] are subjected. As a result of what the prison sees as his ‘non-compliance’, [he] is confined to a 6 by 8 foot windowless cell and is frequently forced to undergo extended periods in solitary confinement.”

His treatment has also had a devastating effect on his health, both physically and mentally. In December 2013, Dr. Emily A. Keram, an independent psychiatrist, visited Guantánamo for five days to evaluate Shaker, concluding that he has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and “additional psychiatric symptoms related to his current confinement that are not included in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD but which also gravely diminish his mental health,” as described in a US court submission in April.

Dr. Keram also provided a list of Shaker’s extensive physical ailments, including severe edema (swelling caused by fluid retention in the body’s tissues, and also known as dropsy), severe migraines, asthma, chronic urinary retention, otitis media (middle ear infection), tinnitus, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux disease) and constipation.

Although the British government has repeatedly stated that they want Shaker released from Guantánamo and returned to his family in London, it can only be concluded that they have not made his release a non-negotiable priority in their dealings with President Obama.

As Clive Stafford Smith, the founder and director of Reprieve, has said, “It is deeply suspicious that the UK won’t say why their friends in the US refuse to transfer Shaker home to London. The US and UK intelligence services appear to be working together to ensure Shaker stays where he is or gets shipped off to Saudi Arabia. Shaker knows too much.”

However, as he added, “National embarrassment isn’t a reason to keep a man who has been cleared for release locked away in prison. Shaker must be returned to his family in London at once.”

We agree wholeheartedly, and “We Stand With Shaker” aims to ensure that Shaker’s unjustified and unjustifiable imprisonment is brought to an end as soon as possible.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, 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.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

16 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Promoting the new campaign, We Stand With Shaker, which I’m launching outside Parliament next Monday Nov. 24, calling for the release from ‪Guantanamo‬ of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and his return to his family in London. Supporting organizations inc. Reprieve and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, and well-known supporters – actors, politicians, journalists – are already coming on board.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Andy, already following on Twitter (both you and Stand with Shaker…). i will share articles and posts from the site and see if I can drum up some others of like mind. Thank you, as always, for everything you do

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jan, for your indefatigable support – and I’ll be letting you know very soon how everyone of like mind can get involved!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    John Goss wrote:

    Thanks Andy. The way Shaker has been treated is abominable.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely, John – and not just by the US. What we’re very much hoping this campaign will do is to provoke the British government to stop making excuses and bring him home. But that will need a lot of people to get involved, obviously!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    We’ve nearly reached 200 likes in just 5 hours! Thanks to everyone helping to promote the cause. We’re aiming to build up more and more interest over the next week.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Just hit 200 likes. The next target – 300!

  8. Andrew says...

    I see this is in cooperation with Save Shaker – but why two campaigns?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Good question, Andrew. Essentially it’s to try and make a big noise with something new, to see if we can get the media to pay attention, and to get the campaign to go viral. Details to follow very soon – once the website’s up and running in a couple of days. We have plans for what the launch will involve!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    We’ve reached 300 likes – aiming for 400 now! Thanks to everyone liking and sharing us.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    We’ve reached 400 likes – now heading for 500! I’ve just met up with a young filmmaker, Billy Dudley, who’s going to be making a promo for the campaign for the launch next Monday – featuring my band The Four Fathers and “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the campaign song that I wrote. We’re also close to finalizing a logo for the campaign, and I’m also working on the website.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    We reached 500 likes. Thank you, my friends. Now aiming for 600!

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Working hard on the We Stand With Shaker campaign and the launch next Monday, to the exclusion of almost everything else right now. Thanks to everyone showing support. I think it will be worth it! I had discussions regarding the promo video today with a great young film-maker, and will be recording tomorrow, and I’ve also been working on getting more supporters involved – expect to hear more from me soon!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    Hope it goes well 🙂

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Aaron Ben Acer Quinn wrote:

    wishing you a great success Andy

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ruth and Aaron. It’s all looking promising. Impossible to tell upfront if we can reach out way beyond our usual crowd of devoted human rights supporters, but I think we have a chance.

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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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