The story of Shaker Aamer and Guantanamo

The prolonged campaign for the release of Battersea resident Shaker Aamer, a Guantanamo Bay military prison inmate, resulted in success. It is now five years to the day since he was released from prison after serving 13 years without charge or trial. We have followed the case of Shaker Aamer in detail since the completion of Outside The Law: Stories from Guantanamo in 2009 up to his arrival at Biggin Hill airport on 31st October 2015. Here are all our Guantanamo campaign videos which chronicle the series of events surrounding this story of injustice.

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

Documentary telling the story of Guantánamo, extraordinary rendition and secret prisons, focusing on the stories of three prisoners, Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and Omar Deghayes.

It examines how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, rounding up prisoners in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for large bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism; for example as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers. Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (still detained. November 2009), Binyam Mohamed (released, February 2009) and Omar Deghayes (released, December 2007).

The documentary 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.

“Outside the Law is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten” – Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK

February 2012 – Tuesday 14th marked 10th anniversary of Shaker’s detention, which was marked in England by a series of protests, and in Guantanamo by a hunger strike.

Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice

Also available in Spanish here

Spectacle has made this short film about Shaker Aamer to mark the 10th anniversary of his incarceration.

Shaker Aamer was one of the 171 men held in detention in Guantanamo Bay. Despite never having had a trial, having been approved for release twice, and a growing number of people from all walks of life campaigning for him, Shaker was remained in detention (released from prison on 30th October 2015). His physical and mental health deterioration is a prevalent concern. During the 10 years that Shaker Aamer has been incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, he’s has never been charged, and he has never denied his innocence. He has continuously lobbied for the welfare of other Guantanamo inmates from within the system. Many believe that this, and his potential as a witness to U.S. human rights abuses, are the reasons he still remains captive.

Through conversations with activists and former detainees; the film paints a picture of who Shaker Aamer is, the injustices he has endured and what his life has involved for the last decade. From Bagram and Guanatanamo Bay prisons, to the unknown dark prisons throughout the world, Shaker Aamer’s story illustrates the lengths to which the U.S. and U.K. governments will go to justify their despicable War on Terror.

Shaker Aamer, time is running out.

The Shaker Aamer Campaign held a protest vigil for Shaker Aamer on Wednesday April 9th 2014 in Parliament Square to bring him home.

Not another day in Guantánamo

London Guantanamo Campaign Demonstration in Trafalgar square on May 23rd 2014. Interview with Aisha Maniar, London Guantanamo Campaigner and organizer of the event, and Noel Hammel, Chair of Kingston Peace Council.

Eleven years in Guantanamo

This video is an interview with the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith about Shaker Aamer.

Shaker Aamer finally released from Guantanamo

Video interview on the day of his release with Shaker’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, founder/director of justice charity Reprieve at Biggin Hill airport.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice (New Version) and Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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

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Shaker Aamer finally released from Guantanamo

Today Shaker Aamer was finally released from Guantanamo and arrived at Biggin Hill Airport south London. Due to his 14 years of torture and ill treatment he immediately went to hospital for a check up and will later today hopefully be reunited with his family, including his teenage boy whom he has never met.

Spectacle, having followed his story since 2007, was at Biggin Hill and spoke to Clive Stafford Smith his lawyer and Founder/Director of justice charity Reprieve .

Clive was not informed that his client was arriving and used flight tracker to find out where he was landing. Shaker Aamer is a key witness to extensive human rights abuses including collusion in torture by both US and UK security services. Many believe this is the main, or only, reason he was not freed immediately he was cleared for release back in 2007 and again in 2009.

From Clive’s interview you get a sense of the tremendous character and strength of Shaker, his determination that no one else should experience what he went through. He does not want vengeance on his torturers and tormentors but a full inquiry into the people and powers behind the treatment of so many innocent people at the Guantanamo prison.

Visit our Vimeo channel and watch our collection of films and short videos about Shaker Aamer and Guantanamo.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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

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Forced Feeding is Apparently “Not Uncomfortable” for Detainees

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The Hunger strike at Guantánamo has now been going on for more then 130 days. According to official figures, 103 of the detainees are now on hunger strike, and the number of detainees being forced fed remains at 30.

Reporters were allowed into the camp on what was believed to be a well choreographed and scripted guided tour. The reporters were allowed to see the force feeding equipment and were told how the medical team used this equipment upon the detainees. According to the doctors and the nurses, no prisoners had complained about this brutal force feeding procedure.

The guards at Guantánamo have been reported as being very patient with detainees. While certain detainees have been accused of throwing feces and urine at guards. This only re-reinforces the guards strategy of not negotiating with detainees, and instead subjecting them to procedures such as force feeding.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera obtained documents that explained the force feeding procedure which could last up to two hours. These documents described how time was a significant factor in ensuring the success of the force feeding procedure.

The tour showed prisoners mouths being covered with a mask while a tube (at least 61cms long) would be snaked down their nose until an x-ray or test dose of water confirmed the tube to be in the stomach of a prisoner. After being force fed, a prisoner would be kept in a dry cell without any water to ensure they did not vomit for 45-60 minutes. If the detainee was to vomit, this force feeding procedure would have to be repeated.

It was also reported that while this procedure was carried out detainees would be heavily drugged, hence their lack of complaints regarding the force feeding procedure. The identity of the detainees are being shared with the top officials at the Pentagon who apparently, do not care about violating medical ethics that force feeding concerns.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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The Amnesty Group at Lewes Priory demands the release of Shaker Aamer

The case of Saker Aamer, the last british resident in Guantanamo, has not only upset people close to him. The amnesty group at Lewes Priory School found the indefinite detention and torture of Shaker Aamer wrong and wanted to do something about it. They decided to start a petition at their school which almost all students signed.

After the petition was signed they got the opportunity to visit the House of Parliament to speak with Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt about the release of Shaker Aamer.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Is the UK really trying to bring Shaker Aamer home?

shaker postcard z 2011

The situation in Guantanamo is now getting worse. Prisoners claims that they are now being held in solitary confinement and are treated like dogs. They continue their hunger strike and 23 prisoners are being forced fed in a  room where they are being strapped down in a chair while a tube is being forced down their nose. This despite the AMA’s, American Medical Association, criticism of force feeding, saying it is horrible and violates core ethical values of the medical profession. Four prisoners are so weak that they are being shackled in the hospital to prevent them from dying.

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo, fears that he might die in the prison. He hopes he does not, he hopes he will be released before that so he is able to hug his children. A wish that seems will not come true in the near future.

According to the Pentagon, the UK is in no rush to get Shaker Aamer out of Guantanamo. This despite the Parliamentary debate about Shaker Aamer’s release and claims made by foreign secretary William Hague and defense secretary Philip Hammond that they are trying to lobby their counterparts in the US over Shaker Aamer.

At the same time it seems that UK might not meet up with those “conditions”  US have for releasing a prisoner to the country. These claims are being dismissed by Shaker Aamer’s UK lawyer Clive Stafford Smith who says that UK has the best record of taking care of released prisoners.

It seems like there are a lot of excuses to not release Shaker Aamer to the UK, and it also seems like it is getting more and more urgent to get him out of the prison. The question is is it only the US who is the problem or does the UK government have an interest in ensuring a key witness to Government collusion in torture never gets freedom, justice and his day in court.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Obama finally speaks about Guantanamo

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Due to the growing hunger strike at Guantanamo President Obama has now been forced to react. In a recent press conference Obama admitted that the prison had to be closed. He also mentioned that he did not want the prisoners to die and that we had to reflect on why America is doing what they are doing.

Meanwhile the decision to send more doctors and nurses to Guantanamo are now being criticized by AMA, American Medical Association, who claim that it “violates core ethical values of the medical profession”. But US officials seem to be more afraid of the bad publicity of a detainee dying than from torturing the prisoners by forced feeding.

With all of this attention on the prison and a renewed promise from Obama to close Guantanamo, let us all hope that the prison will be closed sooner rather and later.

If you are from the UK, keep on pressuring your MP’s to engage in debates regarding Shaker Aamer’s release. If you are from outside the UK, put pressure on your government to demand Obama close the prison forever and ensure that the prisoners get a new life.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Guantanamo hunger strike keeps on growing

The US officials has now admitted that 100 of the detainees are hunger striking, 21 are being force fed and five of those are hospitalised. One of the prisoners who are being force fed admits that he has lost 30 pounds the last two month, and one of his fellow inmates are now weighing as low as 77 pounds.

A medical team of 40 people have now been sent to Guantanamo as back-up due to the growing hunger strike. US authorities claims that the medical reinforcement has been planned for weeks, but many believe that they are sent because the health of the prisoners are getting worse.

Losing this kind of weight is dangerous and since many of the detainees have  bad health since before, this hunger strike might kill them. One of the inmates whose life is at risk is the last British resident in Guantanamo, Shaker Aamer. He has also said in a statement to his lawyers that even though he can not say names or number, people are dying in Guantanamo.

Last week MP’s debated about Shaker Aamer’s release, and almost all of them could not understand why he had not been returned to his family. There was also raised a question about his health and if he would survive the hunger strike. Many of the MP’s also questioned the fact that Shaker has all of a sudden just been cleared for release only to Saudi Arabia, even though the documents about his release have other information.

Caroline Lucas, MP, said that she believed the only reason why Shaker would be sent to Saudi Arabia is to prevent him speaking out about his abuse, an explanation that is shared with many others.

The EU-parliament has also raised their concerns regarding the hunger strike and are now putting pressure on the US government, especially President Obama, to close down Guantanamo. They also say that they are willing to accept cleared prisoners in to EU member countries, but that the US have to keep their promise to still contribute with costs, not only for the move but also thereafter.

Now that all this focus is on the prison once again, I can not help but wonder what is going to happen. And most of all, what are the countries going to do if US refuses to close down Guantanamo. Are we just going to forget about the prisoners or is someone actually going to do something and really force the US to close it down. Let us just hope that someone does something soon, because I believe that soon it will be too late.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Yesterday’s debate regarding the release of Shaker Aamer

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If you are interested in more information about yesterday’s debate regarding the release of Shaker Aamer in Parliament there is a transcript from the debate available here and also a video from Parliament TV available here

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Shaker Aamer talks about the hunger strike

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Shaker Aamers attorney, Clive Stafford-Smith, recently released a statement where he recounted his phone conversation with Shaker Aamer.

Most of the prisoners in Guantanamo have been on a hunger strike since the 7th of February this year. One of those prisoners is Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. He has during the strike lost 32 lbs which is seriously affecting his already poor health.

The hunger strike was allegedly started because the guards were searching through the prisoner’s Korans and disturbed the detainees during prayers. According to a top Pentagon official the searches will continue since it is alleged that the detainees might hide improvised weapons, food, medicine etc. in them. He fails to acknowledge that prisoners who are devoted Muslims thinks that hiding things in the Koran is an insult to the holy book, just like the searching through them.

To read the statement please click here.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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US Government acknowledge the Hunger Strike and the closing of Guantanamo

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Right before Easter, the White House said that they are closely monitoring the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. The US government have up until this point tried to ignore the existence of the strike but coincidentally enough, they now admit its existence the same week as the Red Cross, because of the hunger strike, is sending a delegation to check the conditions of the prison and the detainees.

The number of prisoners on hunger strike are only 31 according to a Pentagon spokesman. a number not compatible with the 130 prisoners on hunger strike according to a Saudi prisoner. Through his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, Shaker Aamer confirmed that, just in camp V, 66 prisoners are on hunger strike, and that more and more prisoners are joining the protest movement.

Shaker also told his lawyer that he had, since the hunger strike started 6th February, lost 32 pounds. According to authorities 11 other detainees are force fed with tubes and three others have been hospitalised for severe dehydration.

While admitting they are monitoring the hunger strike, the White House also said that Obama-administration still plans to close Guantanamo, something Obama has failed to mention in earlier speeches regarding keeping his promises. They did mention though that the closing will take time because of the legislation that Congress put in place. Why Congress is so against closing Guantanamo is unknown, but it is a good scapegoat.

Another interesting question is, if Obama is so keen on closing Guantanamo and it is only the Congress who are holding him back, why did Obama decide to fund the building of a new prison at Guantanamo, and also the building of a new camp 7? Why put millions of dollars into something that hopefully will not be needed? Or is the plan not to close Guantanamo and keep coming up with bad excuses why they can not release the prisoners?

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

Click Guantánamo for more blogs
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