“I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for many years.” Taken from a letter written in 2006 by Shaker Aamer, Guantanamo Prisoner number 239.
Shaker Aamer, the last British Resident in Guantanamo, has been held without charge or trial for over 12 years. President Obama promised top close Guantanamo by January 2010 and restore the US to the rule of law. However, Guantanamo still remains open with the remaining detainees losing hope of an end to an ordeal in which all their human rights have been denied.
Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the Bush Administration in June 2007. In January 2010, the Obama Task Force Review re-affirmed his status. In August 2007 the UK Government recognised Shaker’s right to return as a long-term resident and requested his release to the UK to be reunited with his English wife and four children. This request was ‘strenuously’ repeated on subsequent occasions. In July 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron stated that the Coalition government would continue to request Shaker’s release.
Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea, has continued the work of her predecessor Martin Linton, in calling for Shaker’s return to his wife and four young children and family home in Battersea, London. It is beyond belief that Shaker is still detained in Guantanamo, he has done no wrong but has been greatly wronged by the shameful inaction of the UK/US Governments. He has suffered cruel and degrading treatment including many years incarcerated in solitary confinement in a cell six feet by eight feet, torture and other abuse. Shaker is currently on hunger strike as a last resort, has been force-fed and his mental and physical health is causing great concern. The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign calls on the UK and US to act with extreme urgency to bring Shaker Aamer home NOW!
SHAKER AAMER’S STORY
Shaker Aamer was born on 21 December 1968 in Medina, Saudi Arabia. He left home aged 17, lived in America for a year and travelled to many countries before making his home in the UK. In 1996 he was granted the legal right to remain in the UK and worked as a translator for a firm of solicitors. His application for British citizenship was in progress when, in June 2001, Shaker and his wife and family decided to travel to Afghanistan to work on charitable projects, notably supporting a girls' school and digging wells. After 9/11, in October 2001, the US and UK started bombing Afghanistan and Shaker sent his family to safety but as he tried to follow them he was captured by the Northern Alliance and sold for a bounty of $5,000 to the US. He was taken to the ‘dark prison’ in Kabul and then transferred to Bagram and Kandahar. Shaker states that he was subjected to torture and coercive interrogation in the presence of MI5/MI6 agents. In February 2002 he was among the first detainees to be transported to Guantanamo in orange suits, chains, shackles and black hoods. There he has continued to suffer acts of cruelty, torture and deprivation. Shaker protested against the harsh conditions and soon became a respected spokesperson for the other detainees. Following his role in a major hunger strike in June/July 2005, he organised a Prisoners’ Council. All the requests were denied and to silence him Shaker was put in solitary confinement for the following five years.
Prisoner No. 239 Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo to this day, despite having been cleared for release in 2007 and 2010. He has serious health problems, is currently on hunger strike along with other prisoners and his lawyers state that he is gradually dying in Guantanamo. The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign was instrumental in achieving over 117,000 signatures on an e-petition last year and currently holds weekly Vigils in Parliament Square opposite the House of Commons, with Campaign supporters dressed in the ‘Guantanamo uniform’ of orange boiler suits, chains and black hoods. We also have regular street stalls, public and Parliamentary meetings, protests, demonstrations, petitions and letter and postcard writing, all with the objective of putting pressure on the British and US Governments to bring about Shaker Aamer’s immediate release - before it is too late!
On 17 March 2015, the long-awaited Parliamentary debate on Shaker Aamer, triggered by the achievement of over 100,000 signatures on the e-petition, took place and the House of Commons overwhelmingly resolved: “That this House calls on the US Government to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay and to allow him to return to his family in the UK.”
This significant decision of the British Parliament has given added impetus to the cross-party Parliamentary Delegation which will go to the US on May 18 to plead for Shaker’s immediate release. The Delegation will take this message to the US: The UK Government and thousands of campaigners worldwide demand that President Obama acts now on his promise to the British Prime Minister that he would prioritise Shaker Aamer’s case as a matter of urgency.
Final update: SUCCESS !
On Thursday 24 September 2015, US President Obama phoned British Prime Minister, David Cameron to tell him that Shaker Aamer was to be released. This was soon followed by a British Government announcement that Shaker would be freed after a 30-day notice period to the US Congress which ends on 25 October. At last, after over 13 years imprisonment in Guantanamo, without charge or trial, this innocent man will soon be re-united with his family in London !
As Shaker Aamer’s family anxiously await his return and look forward to him recovering his health and wellbeing in peace and dignity, thanks are due to Lush for their invaluable financial support and to all those individuals and organisations who have supported the long-running campaign.
Shaker Aamer - free at last !
Written by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign team
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