We Stand With Shaker’s 1st Anniversary, 100 Celebrity Photos and a Vigil on Thursday


The launch of the We Stand With Shaker campaign outside the Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2014, featuring, from L to R: Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith, Andy Worthington, Joanne MacInnes and Caroline Lucas.Today (November 24) is the 1st anniversary of the launch of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, created by myself and the activist Joanne MacInnes to call for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who was finally freed — after unprecedented pressure on the US government by MPs, the media and campaigners — on October 30.

The inflatable figure proved to be one of those campaigning tools that captured people’s imagination, and our launch a year ago — attended by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, comedian Jeremy Hardy, activist Peter Tatchell and the MPs John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington, and now the Shadow Chancellor) and Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion) — was swiftly followed by high-level support from the Daily Mail, which ran a front-page story condemning Shaker’s ongoing imprisonment, seven years after he was first approved for release by the US authorities, and then followed up with support for the campaign, publishing our open letter to David Cameron, which MPs and our celebrity supporters signed in significant numbers.

The campaign — and the ongoing campaigning of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, as well as the political pressure that began to be exerted when, at the same time that We Stand With Shaker was launched, John McDonnell set up the All-Party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group — led to David Cameron raising the issue of Shaker’s ongoing imprisonment with Barack Obama at a meeting in January (when the president promised to “prioritise” his case), and, in March, led to a Parliamentary debate at which the British government supported the motion, “That this House calls on the US Government to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay and to allow him to return to his family in the UK.” Read the transcript here and here.

Speaking for the British government, Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP and a junior minister in the Foreign Office, said, “I hope I have made it clear that the UK Government are absolutely committed to securing the release of Mr Aamer. Today I would like to underline that commitment and join the House in calling for the US Government to approve the release of Shaker Aamer to the UK.”

In May, a Parliamentary delegation of MPs from the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group — the Conservative MPs David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, and the Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn (now the Leader of the Labour Party) and Andy Slaughter — visited Washington D.C. to “meet with individuals, officials and organisations who may be able to influence events and keep President Obama to his promise to ‘prioritise’ Shaker Aamer’s case and to ensure his release as a matter of the utmost urgency.” With the assistance of the US lawyer Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the ongoing “Close Guantánamo” campaign in 2012, the delegation met with Senators including John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, as well as representatives of the Obama administration, raising Shaker’s profile with key members of Congress, and reinforcing their message with a hard-hitting New York Times op-ed, entitled, “Obama’s Slap in Britain’s Face.”

Throughout the year, We Stand With Shaker also kept up pressure on the US government, with Roger Waters turning up for the presentation of a giant Valentine’s Day card at the US Embassy on February 14, almost a hundred celebrities and MPs signing an open letter to President Obama on Independence Day (July 4), including Boris Johnson, Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Gabriel and Sting, and over 400 celebrities, MPs and concerned citizens from around the world signing up to Fast For Shaker in October, after the news of Shaker’s release had been announced, when, nevertheless, there were reasons to doubt that Shaker would actually be released, and Shaker himself had embarked on a hunger strike.

Shaker is now a free man — and he recently sent a photo and message to his supporters, and will soon be telling his story via the mainstream media. However, the struggle to close Guantánamo continues.

Members of the US campaigning group Witness Against Torture are currently in Cuba, attending an International Seminar for Peace and the Elimination of Foreign Military Bases and calling for the closure of Guantánamo, and, in solidarity, We Stand With Shaker and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign are holding a lunchtime vigil outside the US Embassy on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 26 November, from 12.30 to 1.30pm. The giant inflatable figure of Shaker will be there, wearing a “Close Guantánamo” message, I’ll be there with Joanne, and we are hoping to also have a message of support for Shaker. Please come along if you can!

Below, to mark the anniversary of the launch of We Stand With Shaker, is a list of 100 photos of celebrities and MPs  standing With Shaker, as originally published on our website (and also on our Facebook and Twitter pages), which can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. In addition, photos of supporters holding up placards showing their support for Shaker — and those who joined the Fast For Shaker — can be found here.

The 100 photos of MPs, celebrities and activists who stood with Shaker Aamer

1 Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith, Andy Worthington, Joanne MacInnes and Caroline Lucas MP (at the launch of We Stand With Shaker, 24 November 2014)
2 Joanne MacInnes, Roger Waters and Andy Worthington (at the launch of We Stand With Shaker, 24 November 2014)
3 Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director, Reprieve
4 George Galloway MP (Respect, Bradford West)
5 Roger Waters, musician, ex-Pink Floyd
6 Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
7 Shaykh Suliman Ghani, teacher and broadcaster
8 Benjamin Zephaniah, dub poet and writer
9 John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington, and founder and co-chair of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group)
10 Jeremy Hardy, comedian
11 Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
12 Nick Davies, journalist
13 Sara Pascoe, comedian
14 Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party
15 Janet Ellis, actress and TV presenter
16 Andy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith)
17 Mark Thomas, comedian and author
18 Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party, London)
19 Seumas Milne, journalist
20 Sarah Gillespie, singer-songwriter
21 John Pilger, journalist and documentary film-maker
22 Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General
23 Juliet Stevenson, actress
24 Frankie Boyle, comedian
25 Mark Rylance, actor and director
26 John Rees, writer, broadcaster, co-founder, Stop the War Coalition
27 Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle)
28 Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North)
29 Vanessa Redgrave, actress
30 Helena Kennedy QC, Labour peer
31 Lisa Appignanesi, writer, former President of English PEN
32 Harriet Walter, actress
33 Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat, Lewes)
34 Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East)
35 Gillian Slovo, novelist and playwright, co-author, ‘Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’
36 Tom Wilner, US lawyer, Counsel of Record for the Guantánamo prisoners in their Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008
37 Peter Oborne, journalist
38 Baroness Jenny Jones (Green, London Assembly member)
39 The staff of Reprieve
40 Ken Loach, film director
41 William Hoyland, Jan Chappell, Alan Parnaby, Gillian Slovo, Daniel Cerqueira, Nicolas Kent, Patrick Robinson and Sacha Wares, ‘Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’ cast and creators
42 Hamja Ahsan, human rights activist
43 Rhys Ifans, actor
44 Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge)
45 Bill Paterson, actor
46 Sir Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat, Colchester)
47 John Leech MP (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington)
48 Ann Clwyd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley)
49 Cori Crider, lawyer, Reprieve
50 Roger Godsiff MP (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green)
51 Anna Perera, author, ‘Guantánamo Boy’
52 David Ward MP (Liberal Democrat, Bradford East)
53 Mike Leigh, writer, film director and theatre director
54 Nicolas Kent, theatre director
55 Roger Waters, musician, ex-Pink Floyd (at the Valentine’s Day protest for Shaker outside the US Embassy)
56 Nick Harvey MP (Liberal Democrat, North Devon)
57 Clare Solomon, journalist and activist
58 Alistair Burt MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire)
59 Gavin Shuker MP (Labour and Cooperative, Luton South)
60 Matt Foot, solicitor
61 George Barda, Occupy
62 Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham)
63 Maxine Peake, actress
64 Shaker Aamer’s sons with Ray Silk of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and Suliman Gani
65 Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
66 Mark Lazarowicz MP (Labour/Co-operative, Edinburgh North and Leith)
67 Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)
68 Neil Carmichael MP (Conservative, Stroud)
69 Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
70 Kate Hoey MP (Labour, Vauxhall)
71 Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition
72 Bruce Kent, peace activist
73 Yvonne Ridley, journalist and broadcaster
74 David Nicholl, neurologist and human rights campaigner
75 Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
76 David Knopfler, musician
77 Emma King, Alex Hassell, Miranda Nolan, Brodie Ross, Guy Paul, Harriet Walter and Josh Roche, ‘Death of a Salesman’ cast and assistant director
78 Charlie Hart and Pearl TN, musicians
79 Sir Richard Eyre, theatre director
80 Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition
81 Hugh Brody, anthropologist, writer and director
82 Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (Conservative, North East Somerset)
83 Tania Mathias MP (Conservative, Twickenham)
84 Shahrar Ali, deputy leader of the Green Party
85 Clive Lewis MP (Labour, Norwich South)
86 Gareth Thomas MP (Labour and Co-operative, Harrow West)
87 Ian Murray MP (Labour, Edinburgh South)
88 Russell Brand, comedian, activist, author and actor
89 Julie Hesmondhalgh, actress
90 Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Labour, Salford and Eccles)
91 Medea Benjamin, US political activist and co-founder of Code Pink
92 John Pugh MP (Liberal Democrat, Southport)
93 Andy McDonald MP (Labour, Middlesbrough)
94 Todd Pierce, former Guantánamo military defense attorney
95 Dominic Grieve MP (Conservative, Beaconsfield) and former Attorney General
96 Mostafa Rajaai, NUS International Students’ Officer
97 Charlie Winston, musician
98 David Morrissey, Andy Slaughter MP, Saeed Siddique, John McDonnell MP, Clive Lewis MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Joy Hurcombe, Suliman Gani and Sara Pascoe (at the launch of Fast For Shaker)
99 Andy Worthington, John McDonnell MP and Joanne MacInnes (at the launch of Fast For Shaker)
100 Owen Jones, journalist

And — last but not least! — Shaker Aamer himself, photographed after his release from Guantánamo and his return to the UK on 30 October 2015.

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, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), 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.

4 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Exactly one year ago, I launched We Stand With Shaker outside Parliament with Joanne MacInnes and our special guests inc. Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith, and MPs John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas. To mark the occasion, here are links to the 100 photos of celebrities and MPs who stood with the giant inflatable of Shaker, and an invitation to Londoners to attend a lunchtime vigil outside the US Embassy this Thursday, in solidarity with Witness Against Torture, who are currently in Cuba.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s an article in the Guardian about Witness Against Torture’s protest, announced today: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/25/guantanamo-bay-protest-thanksgiving-fast

    The opening paragraphs:

    Fourteen peace activists from across the United States will begin a protest vigil and fast along the perimeter fence of the US military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday in an attempt to draw attention to what they consider to be ongoing human rights abuses at the prison.

    The protesters are all members of Witness Against Torture, a group which campaigns to have Guantánamo shut down. They plan to set up camp as close as they can to the 107 remaining detainees still being held at the facility. They will then begin a fast on Thanksgiving in symbolic solidarity with the 47 men [actually 48] inside the prison who have been cleared for release but are still trapped in legal limbo having never been charged with any crime, many of whom have been on hunger strike.

    The group, ranging in age from 25 to 65 and drawn from across the US, has strong ties with the Catholic workers movement but also includes Protestants, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. “We see Guantánamo as a radical assault on the rule of law and the alleged pillars of American democracy, and we call on the US to obey the values it claims to hold dear,” said Jeremy Varon, an associate professor of history at the New School in New York and the one atheist among the group.

    The action falls on the 10th anniversary of a similar protest by 25 Witness Against Torture members who, in December 2005, walked about 70 miles from Santiago de Cuba to the Guantánamo detention camp and held a four-day vigil. On that occasion, the protesters travelled to Cuba in breach of the US embargo of the country, though they suffered no legal repercussions.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Check out US activists Witness Against Torture’s powerful photos, from Cuba, of their Thanksgiving meal outside Guantanamo, with a hooded figure at the table representing the 107 men still held in the prison, and, in particular, those on a hunger strike and being force-fed:

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And also check out The Peace Poets performing on Witness Against Torture’s first night in Cuba: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC7HVcjQzVM

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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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