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We Stand with Shaker

Shaker Aamer is free! At lunchtime on 30 October 2015, Shaker Aamer arrived back in the UK from Guantánamo, where he had been held for just over 5000 days, despite being first told eight years ago that the US no longer wanted to hold him. He was swiftly escorted from his point of arrival, Biggin Hill airfield, to receive medical care and to be reunited with his family, and he issued the following statement: “The reason I have been strong is because of the support of people so strongly devoted to the truth. If I was the fire to be lit to tell the truth, it was the people who protected the fire from the wind. My thanks go to Allah first, second to my wife, my family, to my kids and then to my lawyers who did everything they could to carry the word to the world. I feel obliged to every individual who fought for justice not just for me but to bring an end to Guantánamo. Without knowing of their fight I might have given up more than once; I am overwhelmed by what people have done by their actions, their thoughts and their prayers and without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now. The reality may be that we cannot establish peace but we can establish justice. If there is anything that will bring this world to peace it is to remove injustice.” Update: Shaker speaks On 14 December, Shaker appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2. The full 90-minute interview is posted below, via YouTube. We hope you have time to watch it. As We Stand With Shaker co-director Andy Worthington has explained, “I have had the pleasure of meeting Shaker since his release, and was delighted to find that everything I had worked out about him from the reports that have emerged from Guantánamo and from those who know him — his eloquence, his intelligence and his implacable devotion to tackling injustice — was accurate, and this was also evident in his interview with Victoria Derbyshire.” Shaker was also interviewed by ITV News, and by the Mail on Sunday. Please also see this video of Andy talking about Shaker’s release at an event in London on 18 December, and see campaign co-directors Andy and Joanne MacInnes discussing the success of the campaign with George Galloway on his Sputnik show on RT. 11 November news: See this photo Shaker sent us, and read his message to all his supporters! Earlier, responding to the news of Shaker’s arrival, Andy Worthington said: “We are delighted to hear about Shaker Aamer’s return to the UK, bringing to an end his long and unacceptable ordeal in US custody for nearly 14 years. Eight years ago, under George W. Bush, Shaker was first told that the US no longer wanted to hold him, and in 2009 the Obama administration also approved him for release. To be held for so long, after being approved for release, is unforgivable. “We thank all the campaigners who have worked tirelessly for Shaker’s release, the MPs from across the political spectrum who have devoted their energies to addressing this terrible injustice, his lawyers, the media who have understood the importance of his case and the principles at stake, and, of course, the concerned citizens around the world who have recognised his plight and acted on it. “We also recall the 107 other men still held at Guantánamo, and note that 48 of them have also, like Shaker, been approved for release by high-level US government review processes. We call for them also to be released as soon as possible.” New campaign: Fast For Shaker On 11 October, after the Mail on Sunday reported that Shaker Aamer had stated in a phone call to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that he had embarked on a hunger strike in protest at his constant and ongoing abuse, and his fears that, due to his weakened state, he wouldn’t live to see his family again, We Stand With Shaker’s directors, Joanne MacInnes and Andy Worthington, set up a new campaign, Fast For Shaker, in which celebrities, MPs and members of the public are encouraged to show solidarity with Shaker by pledging to undertake a hunger strike of their own for a minimum of 24 hours, on a day of their choosing. The initiative started on Thursday 15 October, and will last until Shaker is released, which could – and should – have been on 25 October, although, as of 27 October, we are hearing from the State Department that it has been slightly delayed because of “logistical arrangements.” Do check out the Calendar to see all the wonderful messages left by those pledging to Fast With Shaker. Click on each date to see all the comments, and also check out the photos of supporters and their comments on our photo page here. Supporters fasting include Clive Stafford Smith, Shaker Aamer’s family, the MPs David Davis (Conservative) and John McDonnell (Labour), the co-chairs of the cross-party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, Caroline Lucas (Green) and Andy Slaughter (Labour), officers of the Parliamentary Group, the musician Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd), the comedian Frankie Boyle and the actors Mark Rylance, David Morrissey, Harriet Walter and Maxine Peake. Other high-profile fasters include the MPs Tania Mathias (Conservative), Clive Lewis (Labour) and Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat), the cross-bench peer Lord Hylton, the comedian Sara Pascoe, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, the musicians David Knopfler and Charlie Winston, the US actor Ed Asner, former Guantánamo guard Brandon Neely, Todd Pierce, Army Maj. (retired), former military defense attorney in the military commissions at Guantánamo, Coleen Rowley, retired FBI Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, journalist Yvonne Ridley and neurologist and human rights campaigner Dr. David Nicholl. Shaker Aamer to be freed from Guantánamo! We are delighted to hear that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is to be released. A British government spokesperson announced that the US government has notified them of the intention to release Mr. Aamer back to his family in the UK, and stated that the US government “has notified Congress of this decision and once that notice period has been concluded, Mr. Aamer will be returned to the UK.” Under US law, the defence secretary, Ashton Carter, must sign off on any prisoner releases, certifying that all steps have been taken to ensure that it is safe to do so, and Congress then receives 30 days’ notice. As a result, Shaker may not be home until late October, but the announcement of his impending release is a clear cause for celebration. Responding to the news, We Stand With Shaker co-director Andy Worthington said: “We are delighted to hear of Shaker Aamer’s imminent release, and would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the years to secure his release – his lawyers, the many MPs who took up his cause, the journalists who refused to look the other way, the many celebrities who have supported the We Stand With Shaker campaign over the last year and the many members of the public who have campaigned tirelessly to make sure he was not forgotten.” He added: “We are delighted to have played our part in securing Shaker’s release. Thanks to all the MPs and celebrities who have stood with our giant inflatable figure of Shaker, and to all the members of the public, in the UK, the US and around the world, who have shown solidarity with Shaker’s plight.” We Stand With Shaker co-director Joanne MacInnes said: “This is fantastic news. Year after year Shaker’s family have awaited his return, and been disappointed time and again. After so long, I’m delighted that his torture and long ordeal is nearly over, and he’ll be in the arms of his family very soon.” For coverage, see ’When Shaker Aamer is free from Guantánamo the slurs will start’ in the Guardian by Clive Stafford Smith, ’Torture and the man who could expose Britain’s dirtiest secrets’ by Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail, ’Security services accused over Aamer’s lengthy detention’ by Ian Cobain in the Guardian, and ’When Shaker Aamer is released from Guantánamo next month, it will be a strange sort of victory for his family’ by Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty International UK, in the Independent. Also see Andy’s article here, his radio interview here, and see Joanne on RT here. On 2 October, Andy published an article, ’The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Truth, Lies and Distortions in the Coverage of Shaker Aamer, Soon to be Freed from Guantánamo,’ focusing on and analysing responses to the news – including comments by the MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and Shaker’s daughter Johina, praise and criticism for how the story was presented in the US media, excerpts from the articles linked to above, and a forensic putdown of a very poor attempt to smear Shaker that was published in the Daily Beast, written by Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society, a troublingly Islamophobic think-tank. Watch the Campaign Video The campaign video for We Stand With Shaker, featuring The Four Fathers playing ‘Song for Shaker Aamer.’ Buy the song as a download here for just 80p ($1.25), although supporters can pay more if they wish. 25% of all the money received will be donated to support Shaker’s family in London. The song is also on The Four Fathers’ debut album, 'Love and War’, available to download or as a CD (and also see here). News (22 September) US defense secretary Ashton Carter, who took office in February 2015, did not approve any new prisoners for release, as required by US law (along with an obligation to give Congress 30 days’ notice prior to any prisoner release), until the summer of 2015. However, on 16 September a Moroccan was repatriated, and on 22 September, after a Saudi prisoner was also repatriated, Adam Goldman of the Washington Post wrote, “With [his] transfer, there are nine Saudis remaining at the prison, but only Shaker Aamer, a British resident, has been cleared for release. Carter is expected to approve his transfer in the coming weeks, along with one for Ahmed Ould Abdel al-Aziz, a Mauritanian.” We very much hope this is true, and are reassured that independently, on 14 September, the Associated Press noted that “Carter recently notified Congress of two transfers [the two men released], and has four whose files are ready to go to Capitol Hill, likely later this month.” Watch Andy Worthington discuss Shaker on RT On 21 September 2015, We Stand With Shaker co-director Andy Worthington appeared on RT to discuss why Shaker is still held, and to promote ’Song for Shaker Aamer’, which he wrote as the lead singer of The Four Fathers. See an alternative version of the broadcast here. Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion for Shaker On 9 September 2015, Andrew Mitchell MP (Con.) launched a new Early Day Motion (EDM 413): “That this House calls on the US administration to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantánamo‬ Bay.” The EDM was also launched with the support of Jeremy Corbyn (Lab.), David Davis (Con.), Alex Salmond (SNP), Tim Farron (LD) and Andy Slaughter (Lab.), and John McDonnell (Lab.), Caroline Lucas (Green) and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve (Con.) are also signatories. PLEASE ASK YOUR MP TO SIGN THE EDM. Please also ask them to join the Shaker Aamer All-Party Parliamentary Group. A list of the members of the group is on Andy Worthington’s website. See the Guardian’s article here, and Andy’s article here. About the campaign We Stand With Shaker, launched in November 2014, calls for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, a legal British resident, born in Saudi Arabia, with a British wife and four British children. Shaker is still held at Guantánamo, even though he has twice been approved for release by the US authorities – under President Bush in 2007 and under President Obama in 2009. In addition, the British government has been calling for his return since 2007. The campaign involves actors, comedians, journalists, lawyers, politicians and other celebrities being photographed with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, created especially for the campaign. In April 2015, we celebrated the publication of the 70th celebrity photo, and we are now aiming to reach a total of 100! The campaign also involves you, our supporters around the world, standing with your own hand-made signs, stating, 'I Stand With Shaker’ (or whatever message you wish to convey), which can be uploaded directly to the site here – or you can send them by email if you’d like. On the same page there are details of how you can write to David Cameron to ask him to call Barack Obama to ask for Shaker’s immediate return, and to Barack Obama to ask him to notify Congress of his intention to release Shaker (via the defense secretary, as required by US law). A letter to President Obama on Independence Day The following open letter, written by Andy Worthington and published in the Guardian, was sent to President Obama on U.S. Independence Day (July 4), calling for Shaker Aamer’s release from Guantánamo: Dear President Obama, On the day that the United States celebrates its independence, we the undersigned ask you to facilitate the transfer from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and his return to his family in the U.K. – his British wife and his four British children. The majority of us are British citizens, and it has not escaped our notice that, while the U.S. is celebrating its freedom, and its foundation under the rule of law, the continuing detention of men at Guantánamo – largely without charge or trial – continues to undermine America’s notion of itself and its international standing. The U.S. authorities have given no indication over the years that they have any intention to charge Shaker Aamer with any criminal offence. Indeed, he is one of 52 men still held who have long been approved for release from Guantánamo after interagency reviews. In his case, he has twice been approved for release from the base – in 2007, under President Bush, and again, in 2010, by your Guantánamo Review Task Force. We note that the Prime Minster, David Cameron, has asked you to release him, that the British Government supported a Parliamentary motion calling for his release in March, and that a cross-party delegation of MPs visited Washington, D.C. in May to seek to establish a timeline for his release. Although they met with Senators, and with the envoys for Guantánamo closure, no one was able to tell them when Mr. Aamer would be released. We cannot understand the difficulty involved in releasing him to the U.K., a close ally of the U.S.A., including on counter-terrorism. The MPs noted in an op-ed in the New York Times on June 8: “There is simply no reason, domestic or international, for the United States to keep Mr. Aamer in custody.” The MPs also stated: “It is difficult for us to shake off the depressing notion that the Obama administration is indifferent to the repeated requests of the British government. It is a slap in the face for America’s staunchest friend.” Just three weeks ago, the U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, visited the U.K. to take part in a ceremony marking the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the document that introduced habeas corpus to the world. The right not to be imprisoned without a fair trial has become the centrepiece of respect for the rule of law all around the world, and yet, when Ms. Lynch stated at Runnymede that the fundamental principles of the Magna Carta have “given hopes to those who face oppression” and have “given a voice to those yearning for the redress of wrongs”, it was impossible not to think of Shaker Aamer, and others in Guantánamo, also “yearning for the redress of wrongs”, but finding that yearning repeatedly unfulfilled. As we congratulate you on the celebration of your country’s independence, we also urge you to address the ongoing and unjustifiable detention of Shaker Aamer without further delay. Yours sincerely Clive Stafford Smith, founder, ReprieveKate Allen, director, Amnesty International UKShami Chakrabarti, director, LibertyDr. Shuja Shafi, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Great Britain Boris Johnson MP, Mayor of London, (Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip)John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington, co-chair, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group)David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden, co-chair, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group)Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative, Sutton Coldfield, officer, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group)Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North, officer, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group), Labour leadership candidateAndy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith, officer, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group), Shadow Justice Minister Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion, officer, Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group) Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, actor Ralph Fiennes, actor Russell Brand, comedian, activist, actor Roger Waters, musician, ex-Pink Floyd Peter Gabriel, musicianSting, musician Juliet Stevenson OBE, actress, Olivier Award winner David Morrissey, actor and director Mark Rylance, actor, two Tony Awards Richard E. Grant, actor Rhys Ifans, BAFTA award-winning actor Nick Davies, special correspondent, the Guardian Sophie Ellis-Bextor, singer Sir Richard Eyre, theatre director David Hare, playwright, two Tony Awards, two Academy Award nominations Ken Loach, film director Mike Leigh, film director and writer Frankie Boyle, comedian Sara Pascoe, comedian Maxine Peake, actress Peter Oborne, journalist and author Gillian Slovo, writer, Golden PEN Award winner Lisa Appignanesi OBE, writer Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and writer Michael Brearley OBE, former England cricket captain Natalie Bennett, leader, the Green Party of England and Wales Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Anna Perera, author, Guantanamo Boy Julie Hesmondhalgh, actress Dr. David Nicholl, neurologist, human rights activist Lindsay German, convener, Stop The War Coalition Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Chairman, Board Of Trustees, Balham Mosque Shaykh Suliman Ghani, teacher and broadcaster Peter Tatchell, human rights activist Bianca Jagger, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Moazzam Begg, human rights activist Janet Ellis, actress, TV presenter, author Jeremy Hardy, comedian Charlie Winston, musician Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and authorDavid Knopfler, musicianLemn Sessay, author and broadcaster Harriet Walter DBE, actress, cast member, Death Of A Salesman Guy Paul, actor, cast member, Death Of A Salesman Miranda Nolan, actress, cast member, Death Of A Salesman Alex Hassell, actor, cast member, Death Of A Salesman Emma King, actress, cast member, Death Of A Salesman Brodie Ross, actor, cast member, Death Of A SalesmanCarol Anne Grayson, writer and researcher SE (His Excellency) Prince Stefano Massimo di Roccasecca dei Volsci Sir Alan Duncan MP (Conservative, Rutland and Melton) Ann Clywd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley) Andrew Smith MP (Labour, Oxford East) Andrew Tyrie MP (Conservative, Chichester) Clive Lewis MP (Labour, Norwich South) Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington), Mayoral candidate for London Dominic Grieve MP (Conservative, Beaconfield), former Attorney General Gareth Thomas MP (Labour Co-operative, Harrow West), Mayoral candidate for London Gavin Shuker MP (Labour, Luton South) Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Labour, Manchester Gorton) Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru, Arfon) Ian Murray MP (Labour, Edinburgh South), Shadow Secretary Of State For Scotland John Pugh MP (Liberal Democrat, Southport) Kate Hoey MP (Labour, Vauxhall) Keir Starmer MP (Labour, Holborn and St Pancras) former Attorney General Kelvin Hopkins MP (Labour, Luton North) Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle) Neil Carmichael MP (Conservative, Stroud) Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative, Worthing West) Rebecca Long Bailey MP (Labour, Salford and Eccles) Roger Godsiff MP (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green)Ruth Cadbury MP (Labour, Brentford and Isleworth) Sadiq Khan MP (Labour, Tooting), Mayoral candidate for London Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham) Tania Mathias MP (Conservative, Twickenham) Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington) Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East) Jean Lambert MEP (Green, London) George Galloway, Mayoral candidate for London Tessa Jowell, Mayoral candidate for London Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour, House of Lords) Baroness Jenny Jones (Green, House of Lords) Lord Hylton (Crossbench, House of Lords) Joanne MacInnes, co-director, We Stand With Shaker Andy Worthington, co-director, We Stand With Shaker Joy Hurcombe, Chair, Save Shaker Aamer campaign For coverage of the open letter, see the Daily Mail, an article in the Guardian accompanying the publication of the letter, and coverage by Sky News and ITV News. Since the letter was published, the main news about Shaker has been the distressing revelation that the Pentagon is blocking his release, which the Guardian reported in August, adding that “US officials said they reached a deal with their British counterparts on transferring Aamer at a meeting in Washington in October 2013, subject to final approval from senior officials.” Also see the response to the news by Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, who has been Shaker’s lawyer for many years, here, and Andy Worthington’s take on it here. The Parliamentary delegation to the U.S. From 19-21 May, a delegation of four MPs who are part of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group – the Conservative MPs David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, and the Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter – were in Washington, D.C., where they met Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin and Joe Manchin, as well as Paul Lewis, the Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo in the Pentagon, and Charles Trumbull, the Acting Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo in the State Department. Read the MPs’ powerful article in the New York Times, 'Obama’s Slap in Britain’s Face’, published on 8 June. Also see We Stand With Shaker co-director Andy Worthington’s article about the visit here, and the Wall Street Journal’s report here, and also see Sky News’ and RT’s reports, featuring Andrew Mitchell and Jeremy Corbyn, and David Davis speaking to ITN News. Following the visit, David Davis, speaking to the Daily Mail, said of the Senators the delegation met, “We got a good reaction from all of them and hopefully they will take the matter up with Obama. I think it has certainly improved Shaker’s chances of getting released.” Andrew Mitchell then spoke to the Daily Mail as well, stating that the failure to release Shaker was “a slap in the face from our oldest ally and staunchest friend.” And then, on 27 May, Clive Stafford Smith spoke to the BBC and said, “I have heard from various sources, which are very reliable I hope, that he is to be released in June.” Also see Andy Worthington’s article here. Sadly, this did not turn out to be true, and the campaigning continues. To coincide with the MPs’ US visit, Andy also drafted an open letter to President Obama and US defense secretary Ashton Carter, calling for the release of the 57 men approved for release but still held, who, of course, include Shaker Aamer. The letter was signed by 13 human rights organisations and lawyers’ groups, including – as well as We Stand With Shaker – Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. Prior to the delegation’s visit, on Saturday 16 May, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, with the support of We Stand With Shaker, held a vigil in Trafalgar Square. Entitled ’14 Hours for 14 Years,’ it featured a supporter in a cage for the duration of the vigil, which ran from 8am to 10pm. On 22 April, the Washington Post reported that Shaker is one of ten men the administration is hoping to release in the next few months, and that he will be returned to the UK. We hope the Parliamentary delegation was able to help to make this a reality, and we encourage you to read Andy Worthington’s analysis of the Washington Post article here. Please also watch Sky News’ feature following up on the story, which includes an interview with Cliff Sloan, the former US State Department envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, and read Andy’s analysis here. A Parliamentary debate on 17 March On 17 March, there was a Parliamentary debate for Shaker Aamer, at which the following motion was passed: “That this House calls on the US Government to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay and to allow him to return to his family in the UK.” Supporting the motion, Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP and a junior minister in the Foreign Office, who was speaking for the British government, said, “I hope I have made it clear that the UK Government are absolutely committed to securing the release of Mr Aamer. Today I would like to underline that commitment and join the House in calling for the US Government to approve the release of Shaker Aamer to the UK.” See the transcript of the debate here. Earlier in the day, Shaker’s sons had handed in an Amnesty International petition signed by over 41,000 people to 10 Downing Street, and had also been interviewed by ITV News, and there had also been a rally in a committee room at which We Stand With Shaker co-director Andy Worthington had spoken. See Andy’s article about the day here. A Valentine’s Day card for Shaker Aamer 14 February was the 13th anniversary of Shaker Aamer’s arrival at Guantánamo – and the birthday of his youngest son, who, of course, he has never seen. To mark the anniversary, we encouraged supporters to print off a Valentine’s Day card we made, and to sign it and send it to the US Ambassador, Matthew W. Barzun, at the US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH. The message in the card was: “I urge you to ask President Obama to secure the immediate release from Guantánamo of British resident Shaker Aamer. Please tell the president we want Shaker returned to his loved ones in London NOW.” We intended to deliver a giant version of the Valentine’s Day card, signed by over 60 MPs and celebrities, to the US Embassy on Friday 13 February, but the Ambassador refused to accept it, so we held a protest instead, which was attended by one of our most prominent supporters, Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd). See photos here by Andy Worthington, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker. On Valentine’s Day itself (Saturday 14 February), we were in Parliament Square at 12 noon, and we then marched to 10 Downing Street with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign to deliver a message of solidarity with Shaker to David Cameron, and to urge him to call for Shaker’s immediate return to the UK and his family more vigorously than he has to date. Opposite Downing Street, Andy Worthington delivered a powerful speech urging David Cameron to demand Shaker’s return to the UK, with no further excuses. Watch the Video of Frankie Boyle Frankie Boyle in conversation with Sara Pascoe. An Open Letter to David Cameron On 15 December 2014, the following open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him to “pick up the phone to President Obama, and to bring Shaker Aamer home”, was published in the Daily Mail, written by Andy Worthington and signed by numerous actors, comedians, writers, MPs and other prominent individuals, including Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith, Frankie Boyle, Jemima Khan, Juliet Stevenson and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. On 16 December, the Daily Mail updated the list, with signatories who had joined up in the preceding 24 hours, including Bill Nighy, Ken Loach, David Hare and Jeanette Winterson, and we added more names in the New Year, including the novelist Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and many more writers, actors, MPs and other celebrities. See below the letter for the full list. Dear Mr. Cameron, In 2015, the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, which introduced habeas corpus to the world, we call on you to urgently address the case of Shaker Aamer, a legal British resident with a British wife and four British children. He continues to be imprisoned without charge or trial in the US prison in Guantánamo,Bay, Cuba, in violation of the right not to be arbitrarily imprisoned which was enshrined in the Magna Carta. Mr. Aamer’s ongoing imprisonment is all the more shocking because he has been approved for release by the United States on two occasions - by a military review board under President Bush in 2007, and by a high-level, inter-agency task force under President Obama in 2009. The British Government has been requesting his return since 2007, and we received assurances from you in June 2013 that you had raised his case with President Obama. In a letter to Mr. Aamer’s daughter, Johina, last June, you wrote, “Despite efforts to secure his release, it remains the case that he has been cleared for transfer but not for release.” You added, “It also remains the case that any decision regarding your father’s release remains ultimately in the hands of the US Government.” Does your comment to Mr. Aamer’s daughter about being cleared for transfer refer to rumours that the United States Government would like to send Mr. Aamer back to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth? This would, no doubt, be convenient for the United States as from there Mr Aamer would be unable to talk about the torture and abuse he has witnessed and personally experienced during his long imprisonment. However, what the US would like to do with Mr. Aamer is irrelevant, as the British Government has a non-negotiable responsibility to secure the return of Mr. Aamer, given his status as a legal British resident. We can find no reason why, given the special relationship between our two countries, you cannot call President Obama and tell him that Mr. Aamer must be returned to the UK as swiftly as possible. We urge you to pick up the phone to President Obama, and to bring Shaker Aamer home. Joanne MacInnes, We Stand With Shaker; Andy Worthington, We Stand With Shaker; Joy Hurcombe, Chair, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign; Roger Waters, musician (ex-Pink Floyd); Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve; Juliet Stevenson, actress; Mark Rylance, actor; Frankie Boyle, comedian; Jeremy Hardy, comedian; Bill Nighy, actor; Harriet Walter, actress; Bill Paterson, actor; Sara Pascoe, comedian; Janet Ellis, actress/broadcaster; Lyndsey Marshal, actress; John McAndrew, actor; Racquel Cassidy, actress (Downton Abbey); Julie Hesmondhalgh, actress (Coronation Street); Original cast members from the 2004 Tricycle Theatre production of 'Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’ by Gillian Slovo and Victoria Brittain: Daniel Cerqueira, Alan Parnaby, William Hoyland, Jan Chappell and Patrick Robinson; Ken Loach, film director; David Hare, playwright; Nicolas Kent, theatre director; Elyse Dodgson, Associate Director, Royal Court Theatre; Phillip John, TV director (Downton Abbey), screenwriter; David Lan, artistic director, Young Vic; David Edgar, playwright; Sophie Ellis-Bextor, singer; Peter Oborne, journalist and author; Jemima Khan, journalist; Nick Davies, journalist and author; John Pilger, journalist and broadcaster; David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden); Sir John Randall MP (Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip); Alistair Burt MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire); Sir Alan Duncan MP (Conservative, Rutland and Melton); Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative, Sutton Coldfield); Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion); John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington); Andy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith); George Galloway MP (Respect, Bradford West); Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North); Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington); Jim Cunningham MP (Labour, Coventry South); Dame Joan Ruddock MP (Labour, Lewisham Deptford); Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Labour, Manchester Gorton); Tom Clarke MP (Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill); Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East); Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham); Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle); Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat, Lewes); John Leech MP (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington); Dr Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge); John Thurso MP (Liberal Democrat, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross); Jean Lambert MEP (Green, London); Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party of England and Wales; Baroness Jenny Jones (Green, House of Lords); Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour, House of Lords); Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty; Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK; Denis Halliday, former Assistant Director-General, United Nations; Mark Haddon, novelist; Jeanette Winterson, writer; Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate; Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate; Anna Perera, author, Guantanamo Boy; Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and author; Sarah Dunant, writer/broadcaster; Rachel Holmes, writer; Robert Wyatt, musician; Sarah Gillespie, singer/songwriter; Gilad Atzmon, musician and writer; David Knopfler, musician; Shaykh Suliman Ghani, TV presenter and teacher; John Rees, co-founder, Stop the War Coalition; Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner; Moazzam Begg, Director of Outreach, Cage; Dr. David Nicholl, neurologist; Gillian Slovo, novelist and playwright; Lisa Appignanesi, writer; Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and writer; Clare Solomon, press officer, People’s Assembly Against Austerity; Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, doctor and journalist; Charlie Winston, platinum-selling singer; Caroline Montagu, writer on the Middle East; John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, cross-bench peer; Aisha Maniar, organiser, London Guantánamo Campaign; Carol Anne Grayson, writer/researcher; SE (His Excellency) Prince Stefano Massimo di Roccasecca dei Volsci. Watch the Human Rights Day Video This video, made for Human Rights Day (10 December) features actors Juliet Stevenson and David Morrissey (and many other celebrity guests!) reading from Shaker’s Declaration of No Human Rights, written in Guantánamo in response to the US betrayal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by the UN 66 years ago, on 10 December 1948. Press Coverage Please read "Shaker Aamer’s imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay is a scandal and an embarrassment” by Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph, “Guantánamo prisoner Shaker Aamer’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith to sue UK” by Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian, “Guantanamo Campaign To Free Shaker Aamer Brings Giant Inflatable To Westminster” on the Huffington Post, RT’s extensive coverage under the heading, “‘Whispering lies’: Campaigners slam MI6 for UK citizen’s illegal 13 yr Guantánamo detention”, “Why is Shaker Aamer still at Gitmo?” by Andy Worthington, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, for Al-Jazeera America, and this article on Cage by former prisoner Moazzam Begg. Also see the promotion of the campaign video on Boing Boing, Andy Worthington’s appearance on RT on the day of the launch, and the coverage by George Galloway and Gayatri on RT’s Sputnik show, broadcast on 29 November. Please also read 'Held in a hell hole for 13 years without trial: Scandal of the Londoner locked in Guantanamo with no hope of justice’, the Daily Mail’s front-page story on 11 December, and the Daily Mail editorial on the same day, 'Stain of shame on the land of Magna Carta’, and the Guardian article about the campaign on 15 December 2014. Also see the Channel 4 News coverage from 15 December, featuring Clive Stafford Smith and Shaker’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, and the Daily Mail’s article about Shaker’s first phone call to his family in two and half years, published on 16 December. Also see the article by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters in the Daily Mail on 23 December, the letter in the Guardian from members of the newly established Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group (on 22 December), and the call by Gerry Conlon, wrongly imprisoned in the Guildford Four miscarriage of justice, for President Obama to release Shaker Aamer, published in the Independent on 23 December. For the first major article in 2015, see David Rose’s account of Shaker’s most recent phone call to his lawyers, in the Mail on Sunday on 4 January. On 10 January, Shaker’s wife Zinneera wrote to David Cameron to urge him to secure her husband’s release, and on 15 January, Shaker’s daughter Johina spoke to the BBC’s Newsbeat about missing her father. David Cameron then visited Barack Obama in the US, when the president promised to “prioritise” his case, although frankly we find the continued evasiveness by both the UK and the US insulting, as a commitment should have been made to free Shaker after Congress receives its required 30 days’ notice. We continue to seek Shaker’s release, and supporters may be interested in campaign co-director Andy Worthington’s discussion of We Stand With Shaker during his recent US visit – see here for Andy speaking outside the White House on 11 January, the 13th anniversary of the opening of the prison, see here for a video recorded in New York, and see here for a video recorded in Northampton, Massachusetts. On 13 February, the day before the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo, Sky News broadcast a major news feature about Shaker, including, for the first time, an interview with two of his sons. Also see here for Andy Worthington being interviewed by Adam Boulton for Sky News Tonight. Shaker Aamer’s story The campaign’s launch date, 24 November 2014, was the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s capture by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, where he had travelled to provide humanitarian aid. He arrived in Guantánamo on 14 February 2002, the day his youngest son was born, who he has never seen. The reasons for Shaker’s ongoing imprisonment have never been adequately explained by either the US or UK governments, because there is no adequate explanation. Shaker is an eloquent, intelligent man who has always resisted the injustice of US detention policies after 9/11. As a campaigner for the prisoners’ rights, he has been treated appallingly, spending much of his 13 years in US custody in solitary confinement. An independent medical expert, who was allowed to visit him in December 2013, confirmed that he has serious physical ailments and mental health issues as a result of his long imprisonment without charge or trial. Throughout his imprisonment, Shaker may well have observed, heard about or been subjected to abusive treatment or torture, but both the US and UK governments have demonstrated an ability to prevent the courts from holding anyone in a position of power accountable for their actions, meaning that Shaker is still held only because the US and UK governments believe that, when released, he will embarrass them. Holding someone year after year because they might embarrass you is completely unacceptable, of course. Also unacceptable are the rumours that the US wants to send him back to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth, where he will be prevented from ever speaking out. Shaker was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and he must be returned to the UK – and to his family – without further delay. The unjustifiable nature of his ongoing imprisonment was highlighted on 20 November 2014 when, at great effort and expense, the US arranged for a Yemeni and a Tunisian, also long approved for release, to be given new homes in Europe (in Slovakia), while failing to return Shaker to the UK, and this shameful situation was repeated on 14 January 2015, when another Yemeni, long cleared for release like Shaker, was given a new home in Estonia. In June 2015, when the release of prisoners resumed after a five-month break, six Yemenis were resettled in the Gulf state of Oman, while, yet again, Shaker was not freed. Two days later, the US and UK had the nerve to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta by King John, which introduced habeas corpus to the world, without mentioning Shaker Aamer and all the other men held at Guantánamo without charge or trial. Andy wrote about the hypocrisy of David Cameron and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, representing the Obama administration, in an article entitled, 800 Years of Magna Carta: The Stench of Hypocrisy Regarding Habeas Corpus for Shaker Aamer and Other Guantánamo Prisoners. With your support, we believe that, despite these setbacks and delays, Shaker Aamer’s long and unjustifiable imprisonment can finally be brought to an end. How the campaign started At a Parliamentary meeting for Shaker Aamer on Human Rights Day in 2013 (10 December, the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), journalist and human rights activist Andy Worthington said that what he thought campaigners needed was a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer which would rise up behind ministers whenever they spoke in public, symbolising that he is the “elephant in the room” when it comes to US-UK relations. Activist and actress Joanne MacInnes, who was in the audience, met up with Andy after the meeting, and decided to follow up by getting the inflatable figure made. An early outing for the inflatable Shaker was on May 23, 2014, at a protest in Trafalgar Square marking the first anniversary of President Obama’s promise to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, after nearly three years in which the release of prisoners had slowed to a crawl. As the months passed the current plan developed – to photograph celebrities with the inflatable Shaker – a plan that became the campaign that was officially launched on 24 November. The team Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes are the directors of We Stand With Shaker. Andy wrote the campaign song, 'Song for Shaker Aamer’, which he sang and played with his band The Four Fathers, and it is available on the band’s debut album, 'Love and War’. Billy Dudley made the campaign video. Thanks to the staff and students at Regent’s College for making the Human Rights Day video at short notice, to Kalina Norton/Studio Kalinka for the campaign design (including our wonderful logo), to Stefano Massimo and Gus Palmer for their photos of our supporters standing with the inflatable Shaker, and to Imogen Tranchell and Benedick Tranchell for their support. Thanks also to Mahfuja Ahmed for her work on the campaign’s social media. This website was designed by Justin Norman, and We Stand With Shaker is supported by Reprieve, and other organisations including the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Close Guantánamo, the London Guantánamo Campaign, Veterans for Peace UK, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait and Code Pink. Please note that the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign runs Wednesday lunchtime vigils for Shaker, outside Parliament, from 1-3pm, when Parliament is in session.

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