Photos: Fast For Shaker Press Launch – MPs and Campaigners Show Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo


The Fast For Shaker launch in London, outside Parliament, on October 15, 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photos on Flickr here.

Today was the launch of Fast For Shaker, a new campaign by myself and Joanne MacInnes, who set up the We Stand With Shaker campaign last November, calling for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. Although Shaker was told on September 25 that he will be freed, and could be by October 25 (allowing for a 30-day notification period insisted upon by the US Congress), there is no guarantee that he will be freed on that date, and in the meantime he has embarked on a hunger strike, in protest at his continuing ill-treatment.

The Fast For Shaker campaign was set up to encourage celebrities, MPs and concerned citizens around the world to pledge to fast for 24 hours in solidarity with Shaker, beginning today, October 15, and continuing until Shaker is freed. It is also intended to keep up the pressure on the Obama administration to make sure that he is freed on October 25, and that there will be no more delays. Given that Shaker was approved for release under George W. Bush in 2007, and under President Obama in 2009, it is understandable why Shaker’s supporters — and Shaker himself — fear that he might not be freed as promised.

Those attending the launch included John McDonnell MP (Labour), the founder and co-chair of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, Caroline Lucas (Green) and Andy Slaughter (Labour), vice-chairs of the Parliamentary Group, Clive Lewis (Labour) and Tania Mathias (Conservative). Also attending was the actor David Morrissey and the comedian Sara Pascoe, Shaker’s father-in-law Saeed Siddique, myself and Joanne, and Joy Hurcombe, the chair of the long-running Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.

246 people have now signed up to fast. Please feel free to join them. See photos submitted by supporters here — and also here — and also see the calendar for details of who is fasting — and see the celebrity list here. On the calendar, you can also click on each date to see the often moving messages left by those who are fasting.

My fast today — with 75 others — is nearly over, and it has been an interesting experience. I feel that I now have some tiny glimpse of what a hunger strike is like, and I also feel I have made a tiny connection with Shaker, although my connection with my fellow fasters is more obvious. I look forward to eating, I must say, having found that fasting tends to make one think of food more than usual, and I have kept myself very busy to distract myself. I cannot, however, imagine being on a hunger strike day after day while living in a small cell, and, as so often before, I have nothing but admiration for those who, as in Guantánamo, for example, manage to survive years of horrendous and unjust isolation and imprisonment while somehow remaining mentally intact.

Let us all hope that Shaker will be freed within the next week and a half.

In closing, for now, please see below for John McDonnell talking about the campaign to free Shaker on RT, via YouTube:

Also see RT’s coverage of the launch here, including an interview with actor and director Mark Rylance, a supporter of the We Stand With Shaker campaign.

A link to the photos is also below:

Fast For Shaker: John McDonnell MP, Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-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 the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my photos from today’s launch of ‪Fast For Shaker‬, the new campaign for ‪Guantanamo‬ prisoner Shaker Aamer, outside Parliament, featuring MPs inc. John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas and Andy Slaughter. Also included – my reflections on fasting for a day (with 75 other great campaigners), and video of John McDonnell talking to RT. Please join our rolling fast!

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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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