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Issue #1589      April 17, 2013

100,000 say: free Shaker Aamer now

Campaigners petitioning for the immediate release of the last Briton in Guantánamo have secured 100,000 signatures necessary to trigger a potential parliamentary debate.

Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has languished in the US prison for 11 years without charge and trial, is currently on hunger strike in protest against his treatment amid growing fears over his wellbeing. Campaigners say the petition would add to pressure on the British government to live up to its commitment to secure his freedom.

A spokesman for the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign said: “This public outcry must not be ignored. The government must act now to get Shaker home to his family and friends in Britain.

“While a full debate in Parliament should now take place with all members of parliament present Prime Minister David Cameron’s government must take resolute and determined action, including, as Irene Nembhard of Birnberg Peirce and Partners has said, making an interstate complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture that the US’s detention of Shaker for more than 11 years amounts to torture.”

Stop the War convener Lindsey German, who is backing the campaign, described Mr Aamer’s continued detention as “a stain on the democratic and judicial process.”

And former Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes said: “Having experienced the bitterness of detention in Guantánamo for five years myself, what Aamer and the other detainees are going through is indescribable.”

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith, who represents Mr Aamer, said he had spoken to his client and that the situation was grave.

He said Mr Aamer had told him: “They are killing us, so it is hard to keep calm. In reality I am dying inside.”

Mr Stafford Smith said: “The ongoing detention without charge or trial of these men is an affront to justice. Shaker has a wife and four British kids – one of whom he’s never met – in London.

“The UK seems to just accept routine assurances from the US that all is well, when in fact all is rotten in Guantánamo Bay. Why does the UK take the position that there is nothing more that can be done when a close ally is committing the ongoing torture of Shaker Aamer?”

Reprieve is one of 25 international non-governmental organisations which signed an open letter to President Obama urging him to fulfil his 2009 promise to close Guantánamo Bay.

The letter, signed by organisations including Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, warns that “irreversible cognitive impairment and physiological damage may begin to occur by the fortieth day of a hunger strike, after which the possibility of death becomes an imminent risk.”

Morning Star  

Next article – Ecological cement, a friendly product developed by Cuba

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