Shaker Aamer: 10 Years on

 

The Independent has drawn attention today to the “decade in detention without trial” of Shaker Aamer, cleared for release in 2007. The article emphasised Shaker’s current declining health and concerns about the amount of time he has endured in solitary confinement.

As a British resident, Shaker looks to be spending his tenth year in Guantanamo Prison where his recent hunger strike draws ever more concern about just exactly what it means to have been “cleared for release” in the United States of America. While this is a case that has drawn minimum media attention in the past ten years, what seems to be lacking is not just a public awareness of the issue but an informed public response to it.

One reader’s comment on the Independent article, with more than 10 ‘likes’, has expressed hostility about the idea of British taxpayers money being used on “lawyers looking after his interests” with a reluctance to accept Shaker as a British resident. This kind of prejudice dominating the response to the Independent article is disconcerting, especially given that we know of the torture received by Shaker in Guantanamo Prison and the trauma that has befallen his family for ten years now, particularly his son, who has never seen him. Shaker was abducted while residing in Afghanistan to build wells and a school for children as a charitable act. The real issue here is one of humanity and a huge injustice in the legal system of America – not one to do with terrorism or a bigoted gripe about who is paying for Shaker’s lawyers, who he has only had very little contact with anyway. He is a British citizen, it must be remembered.

The article brings little more to light than a reminder and a vague description of a decline in Shaker’s situation. Perhaps more prominent are the superfical and racist comments brought about by the article from an audience that seem unaware of the plight of Shaker, Omar Khadr and others suffering the injustices of Guantanamo.

It is interesting that fifty years after Stanley Milgram‘s experiment into obedience to authority; there has been no shift in human development. We still believe in upholding the justice system even when it is killing innocent people and destroying lives. We need to stop putting our trust in Government actions simply because it is easier to ignore them. Progress comes with education, so if you want more information about the save Shaker Aamer campaign, spend just five minutes getting to know his case and just why we need to call for his release today.

Please join the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign

Watch video- Omar Deghayes, former Guantanamo Bay detainee, describes his interrogation by British Intelligence agent, “Andrew”, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan.

Order Spectacle’s DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Or visit our Guantánamo project pages for more information and videos.

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UK’s secret policy on torture: a threat to national security




Today the Guardian exclusively revealed  the UK’s secret policy on torture.
The document shows intelligence officers were instructed to “weigh the importance of information sought against the pain inflicted”.

One section states: “If […] that information will be or has been obtained through the mistreatment of detainees, the negative consequences may include […] adverse effects on national security if the fact […] were to be publicly revealed”

Not only does this document expose the UK’s complicity with torture, which it acknowledges is illegal under UK and international law, but it also attempts to justify the need for keeping the policy secret because it may increase the threat from terrorism. In other words it is not the illegal torture policy that is a problem- just people finding out about it.

In other words, as any criminal will surely agree, the real crime is being found out.  The document attempts to blame the messenger or whistle-blower for any potential negative “blow back” rather than the torture policy itself.

Behind this lies a remarkable confidence that both the victims and the perpetrators of torture will keep silent or will not be believed if they speak out.
This policy of secrecy would explain why credible witness and UK resident Shaker Aamer is still in Guantanamo. It would appear he will be held until tormented into insanity.

Please join the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign

Watch video- Omar Deghayes, former Guantanamo Bay detainee, describes his interrogation by British Intelligence agent, “Andrew”, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan.

Order Spectacle’s DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

Click Guantánamo for more blogs
Or visit our Guantánamo project pages for more information and videos.

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British MPs view film highlighting the reality of Guantanamo

Ekklesia

A new way of thinking

A powerful new documentary on the United States’ detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been shown to MPs at the House of Commons.

The film screening this week was followed by a question and answer session with a panel of commentators including former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, lawyers Tom Wilner and Gareth Peirce, and former Guardian newspaper journalist, Victoria Brittain.

‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo’ gives a vivid and penetrating account of the torture, extraordinary rendition and the network of secret prisons employed by the Bush administration in its infamous ‘war on terror’.

Proceed to Ekklesia to read full article.

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Guantánamo comes to Westminster: Hard-Hitting new Film on detention camp

Green MP to co-host screening and directors’ Q&A with former Guantánamo detainee and international lawyers


Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

Tomrorrow, Tuesday June 21, at 6 pm

The Atlee Suite

Portcullis House, opposite the Palace of  Westminster

RSVP: caroline.lucas.mp@parliament.uk


Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo gives a vivid and penetrating account of the torture, extraordinary rendition and the network of secret prisons employed by the Bush administration in its infamous ‘War on Terror’.

Stories from Guantánamo Trailer at The Spectacle Catalogue

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Bring Shaker Aamer Home: Parliamentary Screening of “Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo”

On Tuesday June 21, at 6 pm, there will be a special Parliamentary screening of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” in the Boothroyd Room in Portcullis House, opposite the House of Commons.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with US attorneys Brent Mickum and Tom Wilner, who are both visiting London for this event, British lawyer Gareth Peirce, former Guantánamo prisoners Omar Deghayes and Moazzam Begg, journalists Victoria Brittain and Andy Worthington and film maker Polly Nash.

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Launch Screening – Outside The Law: Stories From Guantánamo

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo
(Spectacle Productions, 2009; 74 mins., directed by Polly Nash, with Andy Worthington)

The Film is being launched at the Cochrane Theatre in London on Wednesday 21st October in association with Cageprisoners and the Guantanamo Justice Centre. Ticket are free but should be booked in advance via www.cochranetheatre.co.uk or 020 7269 1606

Doors open 6pm, film starts 7pm, Q&A 8.30pm

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a new documentary film telling the story of Guantánamo (and including sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons) with a particular focus on how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism (as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers, for example).

Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (who is still held), Binyam Mohamed (who was released in February 2009) and Omar Deghayes (who was released in December 2007)  — “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.

The film contains interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes) lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

For more information visit Spectacle Projects

Polly Nash is a lecturer at the London College Of Communications, part of the University of the Arts, London, and has worked in film and TV for 20 years.

Andy Worthington is a journalist and blogger, and the author of three books, including The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (Pluto Press). His website is: www.andyworthington.co.uk

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