Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national, with a British family in south London, including a ten-year old son he has never met, has been held in Guantánamo Bay, without charge or trial, since February 2002. Cleared for release by the Pentagon in 2007, his return to the UK was sought by the British government that same year.
Why he continues to languish at Guantánamo Bay is unclear; the British and American governments both blame each other, without giving a plausible reason for his continuing imprisonment. He claims a British intelligence agent was present on one occasion when he was tortured in Afghanistan; this claim is currently subject to a police investigation. He is also alleged to have witnessed the torture and murder of three other prisoners at the hands of US soldiers in 2006.
These may be reasons for his release to be embarrassing — and perhaps why it might cause even more difficult questions to be raised concerning the activities of both the US and UK governments — but that is a particularly disgraceful reason for him to be held indefinitely. However, as Aisha also noted, when “[c]ommenting on the continuing political impasse,” I stated that “there is no drive by the UK or the US to close Guantánamo Bay, and thus there is no impetus to release Shaker Aamer. This needs to come from direct public pressure.”
In discussing the e-petition, I also spoke about how securing 100,000 signatures would enable us to ask the Prime Minister, David Cameron, “to explain the inexplicable: why Shaker Aamer remains in Guantánamo Bay when apparently no one wants him to be there.”
I’m also glad to note that, prior to my arrival, the protestors were joined by the MPs John McDonnell (Lab, Hayes & Harlington) and Jane Ellison (Con, Battersea), who is the MP for the constituency where Shaker Aamer’s family lives, and that afterwards, John McDonnell tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, which states:
That this House welcomes the demonstration in Parliament Square held on 16 April 2012 by the Save Shaker Aamer campaign to highlight the fact that British resident Shaker Aamer has been imprisoned without trial or charge for over 10 years in Guantánamo; and calls for a new initiative by the Government to secure his release and his return to his British family in the UK, given the worrying concern that his health is now seriously deteriorating to the point that his lawyers have stated that he is gradually dying in Guantánamo.
Please write to your MP and ask them to sign the EDM, via the rather cool link below: