March 17: Come to the Green Card Lobby of MPs Before the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Debate


An image promoting the Parliamentary debate for Shaker Aamer on March 17, 2015.POSTSCRIPT 11 May 2015: At the General Election on 7 May, 13 of the 41 MPs supporting the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group lost their seats. Seven others had announced their retirement as MPs before the election. These changes are noted in brackets after the MPs’ names. Now the election is over, please ask your MPs to join the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, if they have not done so already.


On Sunday, I wrote about the recently convened Parliamentary debate, on Tuesday March 17 at 4.30pm, for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, and asked British readers to write to their MPs (via a letter you can cut and paste, or amend as you see fit) to ask them to take part in the debate, and to join the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, chaired by John McDonnell MP.

I now have updated information. Shaykh Suliman Gani, a friend of Shaker’s family, has secured the support of the family for an important event on the morning of March 17 — the handing-in of Amnesty International’s petition for Shaker (signed by nearly 32,000 people) to 10 Downing Street at 11am. Saeed Siddique, Shaker’s father-in-law, will be there, along with his brother-in-law, and, hopefully, all three of Shaker’s sons as well.

In the late morning, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign will be holding a vigil in Parliament Square, and then, at 12.30, supporters will make their way into the Houses of Parliament for a rally organised by John McDonnell MP in Committee Room 11, with speakers including the journalists Andy Worthington (the co-founder of We Stand With Shaker) and Yvonne Ridley, Joy Hurcombe of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Aisha Maniar of the London Guantánamo Campaign and the neurologist and human rights campaigner Dr. David Nicholl. Then, at 2pm, there will be a Green Card Lobby in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament, where constituents will have the opportunity to meet their MPs before the debate and to brief them on Shaker’s case, before the Parliamentary debate at 4.30, to which supporters of Shaker are invited. 

Those wishing to take part will need to allow at least half an hour to queue and clear security, but I do encourage you to take part if you’re in London. I’m told that, if MPs are in the House, they are obliged to meet their constituents. As the Parliament website explains, “A Green Card is a card that you fill in if you want to see your MP at the Palace of Westminster. If you want to visit your MP at the House of Commons you can go through the public entrance of the building and fill out your details on a Green Card in the Central Lobby. The officials in the building will then make every possible attempt to find the MP and ask him or her to meet you.” I’m also told that it is hoped that supporters will be able to attend the House of Commons public gallery for the debate.

Below, for your information, if you have not yet written to your MP to ask them to attend the debate, and to join the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, is a list of the 38 MPs (and one London Assembly member) who have joined the group to date [Note: plus three added since this article was published]. Many of them have also stood with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer that is at the heart of the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched in November with the activist Joanne MacInnes.

The MPs who are members of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group

John McDonnell MP (Chair) (Labour, Hayes and Harlingdon)
Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North)
David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden)
Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative, Worthing West)
Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat, Lewes) [lost seat]
Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
Katy Clark MP (Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran) [lost seat]
Sir John Randall MP (Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip) [retired]
Ann Clwyd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley)
Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd) [retired]
Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative, Sutton Coldfield)
Joan Ruddock MP (Labour, Lewisham Deptford) [retired]
George Galloway MP (Respect, Bradford West) [lost seat]
Mark Lazarowicz MP (Labour and Cooperative, Edinburgh North and Leith) [lost seat]
Andy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith)
Sir Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat, Colchester) [lost seat]
Naomi Long MP (Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, Belfast East) [lost seat]
Joan Walley MP (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North) [retired]
Martin Caton MP (Labour, Gower) [retired]
Nick Harvey MP (Liberal Democrat, North Devon) [lost seat]
John Leech MP (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington) [lost seat]
Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle)
Alistair Burt MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire)
Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East)
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Labour, Manchester Gorton)
Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Sarah Teather MP (Liberal Democrat, Brent Central) [retired]
David Ward MP (Liberal Democrat, Bradford East) [lost seat]
John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat, Birmingham Yardley) [lost seat]
Jim Hood MP (Labour, Lanark and Hamilton East) [lost seat]
Mike Wood MP (Labour, Batley and Spen) [retired]
Roger Godsiff MP (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green)
Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge) [lost seat]
Mike Weir MP (SNP, Angus)
Gavin Shuker MP (Labour and Cooperative, Luton South)
Mike Connarty MP (Labour, Linlithgow and East Falkirk) [lost seat]
Albert Owen MP (Labour, Ynys Môn)
Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham)
Andrew Dismore (Labour, London Assembly, Barnet and Camden)

+ 3 more MPs who joined the group after this list was put together:

Neil Carmichael (Conservative, Stroud)
Kate Hoey (Labour, Vauxhall)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)

When the Parliamentary Group met yesterday, the following MPs indicated that they would be attending the debate, as well as John McDonnell: Caroline Lucas, Alistair Burt, Jeremy Corbyn, David Davis, Naomi Long, Andrew Mitchell, Andy Slaughter and Sarah Teather.

The following MPs said they would try to attend: Diane Abbott, Katy Clark, Ann Clwyd, Mark Lazcovicz, Yasmin Qureshi, Stephen Timms and Joan Walley.

And the following apologised for not being able to attend: Nick Harvey, John Leech, Joan Ruddock and Sir Bob Russell.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. 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.

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

11 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. I have just added some extra information to the article, and I also added some information about the lobby to the website:

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Sarah Kay wrote:

    Next Tuesday, March 17, lobby your MP to attend the parliamentary debate on Shaker Aamer. It took Andy an incredible amount of work to reach that level of awareness among elected officials – it’s time to hold the government accountable for its failure to bring Shaker home

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sarah, for the kind words, To give credit where it’s due, however, it’s important also to remember the hard work and support of John McDonnell MP and Caroline Lucas MP, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, and my colleague in We Stand With Shaker, Joanne MacInnes, who has been relentless in pursuing MPs and making them aware of Shaker’s plight.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    That said, Sarah, you prompted me to look at my archive of articles on Shaker, and I realized there are 233 of them, dating all the way back to July 2007. This was my first – and the poem by Johaina, Shaker’s daughter, remains very powerful:

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    And my second article – this is like ancient history – about Gordon Brown’s government breaking with Tony Blair’s precedent and asking for the return of the five remaining British residents (including Shaker, of course). All the rest were freed in December 2007 and February 2009:

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    Oh, Gordon Brown. Sad thing is, i’m sure the conservative MPs currently pushing for Diego Garcia files / inquiry into CIA rendition are probably doing so because it was agreed upon and carried out under a Labour government. Not due to commitment to human rights.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that would be appropriate for the way most MPs behave, Sarah. Constantly batting for their own team, and trying to put down their opponents, without any regard for principles, or what is right and wrong.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Warming to the theme of my archive, here, if you haven’t seen it, dear readers, is Clive Stafford Smith and the incredible underwear saga:

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    Oh i remember that. Once one exhausts all Kafka-related adjectives, what is left to describe Guantanamo?

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Humor, I suppose, Sarah. Clive’s image of Shaker “paddling in his privy” is priceless. Like the police, the Guantanamo authorities can’t take ridicule.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    That’s a wonderful way to look at it – and there’s nothing more human than laughter. Let’s never lose it…

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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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