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Reprieve: Guantanamo Bay

On the 15th October 2008 Lush supported Reprieve's call for people to go on a 24 hour mass hunger strike in support of Binyam Mohamed, a British national who was being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Binyam  was due to arrive back into the UK for his case to go to the high court. To encourage people to join in and make people aware of Binyam’s plight Lush shops displayed posters of him around the stores, gave  customers  ‘bring Binyam back home’ stickers and  encouraged them take part in the hunger strike due to commence at noon.

As part of a campaign in conjunction with Repreve, a legal action charity set up by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith in 1999, which gives legal support to prisoners denied justice and   whose lawyers represent Binyam and other prisoners who were being denied a fair trial. This campaign had been ongoing since the March of 2008, when Lush shops began selling a ballistic called  ‘Guantanamo Garden’  with 100% of the proceeds (minus the vat) going to Reprieve. The sale of the ballistic  was part of the ‘fair trial my arse’ campaign, which was inspired by the absurd accusation of Reprieve, by the US government, of smuggling the wrong kind of underwear and a pair of speedos in for one of the Guantanamo prisoners

The ‘Guantanamo Garden’ ballistic contained images of Binyam and journalist Sami Al Haj along with text saying how long they had been imprisoned for, which floated to the surface of the water. Sami was freed from Guantanamo and presented with  the International Press Freedom Award earlier in 2008. However at the time of the campaign Binyam still faced charges of terrorism and an unfair and unjust US military trial where the death penalty was a very real possibility.

Binyam had lived and studied in London since the age of 15 and had worked at a local community centre, when he was arrested in the April of 2002 in Pakistan for a visa violation. In July of the same year he was taken on a CIA plane to Morocco where he was tortured by his captors for 18 months his tortures included being stripped naked, cut with a scalpel on his chest and penis, being kept in isolation and subjected to sleep deprivation.

In January of 2004 he was taken to the ‘dark prison’ a CIA  facility near Kabul where his torture continued he was then transferred to the US prison at Bagram airbase and arrived in Guantanamo Bay in the September of 2004.

Binyam described his lowest point as as being when he was asked questions about his life in London which he realised as coming from British intelligence services and that he had been betrayed by the country he called home.

At the time of the campaign Andy Worthington, Reprieve's communications manager said, ”this week is a crucial time for Binyam and, as we’ve seen with the case of Sami Al Haj, public support is a key factor in ensuring prisoners are afforded the justice they are entitled to under international law. We thank lush staff and customers for supporting repreve and campaigning for fair trials and an end to torture”

Lush raised over £45,000 for Reprieve through the sale of the ‘Guantanamo Garden’ ballistic and ‘Charity Pot’ hand and body lotion.

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