Tomorrow morning (Wednesday 24th April) at 9.40 in Westminster, politicians are set to debate for ninety minutes the plight of Shaker Aamer, the last British citizen held in Guantanamo Bay. For over eleven years Shaker Aamer has been held prisoner by the US Government, despite being twice cleared for release. He is currently among 160 prisoners on hunger strike in protest at their ongoing detention and said recently: “These are dark hours in a dark, dark pit. Yet I can see the light: well over 100 prisoners are striking in solidarity.”
On 11th April Shaker spoke with his lawyer and Reprieve director, Clive Stafford Smith, and described the treatment to which he has been subjected since deciding to strike. He said that “They are killing us, so it is hard to keep calm…in reality I am dying inside.” Clive Stafford Smith, said: “Shaker’s own government has been saying that they want him back home to his family where he belongs; yet unfortunately there are subversive forces even in the UK who have a different agenda. Some MI6 agents want him to go to Saudi Arabia where he won’t be able to talk any more to the Metropolitan police about all the things he has witnessed . But a man who has been effectively declared innocent can not be locked away forever to save national embarrassment. Shaker must be returned to London at once.”
The parliamentary debate comes as a result of a recent ePetition calling for his return to the UK which passed the required number of 100,000 signatures on 12th April. Jane Ellison, MP for the Aamer family, is also hoping to secure a debate in the main Chamber, where it would be possible to vote on a motion. She said: “This debate on the Shaker Aamer ePetition is an important opportunity for Members of Parliament to raise many serious concerns about Mr Aamer’s ongoing detention and the conditions in which he is held at Guantánamo Bay. A Foreign Office Minister will respond to the debate, which is important as we urgently need some clarity both on Mr Aamer’s health and the diplomatic efforts being made to secure his release him back to the UK, which is oft-stated UK Government policy. I congratulate all who have campaigned to get this debate.” She continued “This debate is being held less than two weeks after the ePetition passed the 100,000 signature mark because Parliament has recognised the urgency of the situation. I am very grateful to the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee, Natasha Engel MP, and Mr Speaker, John Bercow, for their help in ensuring this debate takes place before the imminent end of the Parliamentary session.”
So, thanks to the determination and persistence of Shaker Aamer’s family in Battersea as well as the many people who have raised awareness of this inhumane situation, those who are in a position to influence the outcome have the opportunity to do just that. Shaker Aamer’s 15-year old daughter Johina recently wrote a letter to David Cameron. It is a brave and defiant read, not pleading or begging the Prime Minister to do what is required to bring her father home, but an incredibly brave message, questioning Cameron’s actions and echoing her father’s defiance: “I see the injustice of the Justice and Security Bill on my father’s release. I clearly recognise that the British government is not willing to take any action until the law gets passed because my father’s return to Britain will cause additional disgrace upon the British government, especially after the case of Binyam Mohamed. This is also been shown by how fast the government have rushed the bill through parliament. Even though it is wrong and instead of finding ways to stop the country’s involvement in human rights abuses, it is supporting torture and rendition by allowing it to be covered up.”
“If the Justice and Security Bill is an imperative for my father’s release, then I strongly suggest that you continue your inaction against him. My father would not under any condition buy his freedom at the price of injustice. While I am not confident that you will, if you conclude that you are willing to write back, then I would like the answers to my questions and for you to allow me to acquire your exact accomplishments that are beneficial to my father’s case.”
As far as an abuse of human rights goes Guantanamo Bay is as bad as it gets. The British Government know this, President Obama knows this, yet this illegal prison and the case of Shaker Aamer are examples of lies, cover ups and false claims made by two nations who claim to be the peacekeepers and moral ambassadors of the world. David Cameron, William Haque, Barrack Obama… it is time for you to do what is right – release those who have been cleared and close Guantanamo Bay. A recent statement on the Save Shaker Aamer website reads:
“We call on Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to pick up the phone to President Obama and demand Shaker’s immediate return. The suffering of Shaker Aamer must end, Ten years of abuse and injustice is ten years too long. As Shaker remains silenced in his cell, prevented from telling his story of torture and abuse and denied all his human rights, we will continue to raise our voices for an end to his cruel ordeal.”
The website also appeals for people to join the debate:
JOIN THE SHAKER AAMER DEBATE IN WESTMINSTER HALL,
PARLIAMENT, London SW1A 0AA
WEDNESDAY 24th APRIL, 9.30am -11am.
Nearest station: Westminster tube station
This ‘back bench’ debate is open to the public.
The debate will be held in the Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall, Parliament – St Stephens Gate entrance.
Please arrive early from 8.30am.
BRING HOME SHAKER AAMER
ASSEMBLE PARLIAMENT SQUARE
Nearest station: Westminster tube station
11.30am – 2pm
Assemble opposite the Houses of Parliament, stand together and speak out, demand Shaker’s release. Please ask your MP to join us. Wear orange if possible, orange jumpsuits, hoods and chains all are available at the demonstration. Shaker Aamer has been denied all his human rights for over eleven years. Join us to demand his immediate release from Guantanamo and his return to the UK. The demonstration immediately follows the debate in Westminster Hall.
Be aware. Make a noise. Demonstrate.