“We Stand With Shaker”: Tortured, ill, detained in Guantanamo, join new campaign to bring him home
Tue 25th Nov 2014
November 24th 2014 marked the 13th anniversary of the capture of Shaker Aamer, by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, a new campaign is being launched by independent journalist Andy Worthington calling for his release from Guantanamo.
We Stand With Shaker (the name given to the initiative) aims to help bring the last British resident in “Gitmo” home to his family. Shaker has never even met his youngest son Faris who was born on February 14, 2002, the day he first arrived there. Back in 2013, Michael, (then age 13) another of Shaker’s sons wrote,
“my dad, Shaker Aamer, is in Guantanamo. It makes me so sad to know that even after trying to get him out, he is still in prison. And even though he has been cleared for release, he has been tortured.
I see my dad on skype when we speak to him. Sometimes a guard stands behind him. We have to be very careful about what we talk about—we can only talk about ourselves or the guards will stop the call.
Since I have grown up, I find it very difficult without my dad. I can feel how hard it is for my mum. I can’t imagine how my dad is coping with all the ill-treatment he has seen”
Photo of Shaker’s children taken in 2009
As Michael stated, his father was in fact cleared for release not once but twice under President Bush in 2007 and under President Obama in 2009 and despite the British government calling for his release Shaker remains incarcerated in very poor health.
Andy Worthington, who has written many times on the plight of Shaker and other Guantantanamo detainees outlines the commencement of the We Stand With Shakercampaign stating,
“the launch takes place from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament, and will be attended by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington), Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion), comedian Jeremy Hardy, Andy Worthington, the director of the campaign, and others tbc. Those attending will be standing with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, designed to represent how he is the “elephant in the room” when it comes to Britain’s dealings with the U.S”
Supporters wishing to take action and show solidarity can submit photos of themselves to Andy with placards that read, “I Stand With Shaker” and there are support links on Facebook and Twitter.
Andy with his “I stand with Shaker” poster
Andy has also composed a “Song for Shaker Aamer” which he performs on a promotional video along with his band. This can be viewed on Youtube below,
Andy Worthington (writer) Roger Waters (musician) Clive Stafford-Smith (lawyer) and Caroline Lucas MP launch the campaign at Westminster
Andy is also very excited to announce that music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) has flown into London to support the launch of We Stand With Shaker, see following letter which he wrote previously,
A note from Roger:
Recently I received a copy of a letter sent from Guantanamo by Shaker Aamer, a UK resident, who has been detained in Gitmo without trial for 12 years. Shaker’s letter was forwarded by Clive Stafford Smith, a man I have me t, who tirelessly advocates the rule of law, and every human being’s right to a fair trial.
In his letter Shaker quotes some lyrics of mine and it was on those grounds that Clive forwarded the letter to me.
I felt it important that Shaker’s story is heard, and that Clive Stafford Smith’s and Reprieve’s attachment to the law is recognized as being fundamentally important to us all.
Full details of the campaign, forthcoming events, and how you can contribute through social media can be found on the following link,
We Stand With Shaker has the full backing of human rights organization Reprieve as well as the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Close Guantánamo, the London Guantánamo Campaign, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait and Code Pink.
Campaigners that have followed long standing efforts to release Shaker, understand that time is of the essence as there are serious concerns for his wellbeing.
Years of detention without charge have taken their toll on Shaker (graphic BBC) cleared for release but still suffering
As Shaker’s lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith (Reprieve) reminded us in a Guardian article (9th April 2014) he has suffered physical and mental torture and was diagnosed with chronic depression by Dr Emily Keram, a respected psychiatrist. He also suffers from special housing unit (SHU) psychosis which stems from the months and years he has spent in solitary confinement. In August, new information emerged that Shaker had reportedly been beaten at Guantánamo, in what appeared to be a crackdown on prisoners protesting their detention without charge.
Shaker is also weakened from repeated hunger strikes. These are his poignant words as they appeared in the Guardian 5th April 2013,
“they’ve taken almost all my “comfort items” away again now, along with the knee brace the doctors ordered, the back brace, the medical socks for my edema, and the blanket for my rheumatism. Not that I care. Everything is meaningless, so long as I am still here, cleared, without charges, and without a trial. Nobody has yet had a fair trial, and an additional 85 of the 166 detainees who have been cleared for release. So a little over fifty percent of the prisoners have been told they can go home – or go somewhere – but who are still here. The Administration got mad down here where people started calling Guantánamo a “gulag”, but I’ll bet no gulag in the Soviet Union ever saw half its population cleared for release but still there years later”
We Stand With Shaker aims to draw public attention to this terrible case of injustice and get the public behind Shaker to ensure he is released as a matter or urgency. We need to act now, tomorrow may be too late!
“We Stand With Shaker”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.