Zeke Johnson / Amnesty International – 2013-05-25 10:22:49
ACTION ALERT: Free All Gitmo Detainees Cleared for Release
Obama says there is “no justification” for not closing Guantanamo, yet Shaker Aamer is still waiting for justice
Zeke Johnson / Amnesty International
(May 24, 2013) — President Obama announced concrete steps to close Guantanamo yesterday, including transferring detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. â€¨â€¨Tell Obama to turn his words into action and transfer Shaker Aamer today.
Shaker Aamer has spent over 11 years in Guantanamo. He has not been charged with any crime, and in fact has been cleared for transfer twice. â€¨â€¨
The British government has repeatedly asked that Shaker be released and returned to the UK, but those calls have gone unanswered. Shaker is not alone. There are 166 detainees in Guantanamo: dozens have been cleared for transfer. More than half are on a hunger strike. Dozens are being shackled and force fed through tubes to keep them alive as the strike continues into its 4th month.â€¨â€¨
All detainees in Guantanamo Bay have the right to be fairly tried or released. â€¨â€¨
Guantanamo Bay is a place where human rights are denied day after day. And all of this has been done in the name of keeping us “safe.”â€¨â€¨
President Obama can show he is serious about closing Guantanamo by moving forward with transfers today. He has the authority to do so under current law.â€¨â€¨Amnesty activists have accomplished amazing feats — and there is no reason to let up now. Your emails, phone calls, rallies, and tweets are working. You are generating critical public pressure, and we need to dial it up — we are closer than ever to sending Shaker Aamer home and closing Guantanamo for good. â€¨â€¨
Zeke Johnsonâ€¨is Director of AI’s Security with Human Rights Campaign.
President Obama announced concrete steps to close Guantanamo yesterday, including transferring detainees who have been cleared. Tell Obama to make good on his word and transfer Shaker Aamer to the U.K. today
End Indefinite Detention at Guantanamo
Charge or Release Shaker Aamer
CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION: Transfer Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo
As of February 14, 2013, former UK resident Shaker Aamer will have been held at Guantanamo without charge for 11 years. Indefinite detention is a human rights violation: the US must either charge Aamer with a crime or release him.
Former UK resident Shaker Aamer, a Saudi Arabian national, was originally detained in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family, by Afghan forces in the autumn of 2001. He was then transferred to US custody in Afghanistan.
In February 2002, Shaker Aamer was sent to Guantanamo Bay where he remains detained. At Guantanamo he has been involved in protesting against conditions at the camp, including by participating in hunger strikes. He has spent much of his time in Guantanamo held in solitary confinement.
Shaker Aamer was arrested by Afghan forces in late 2001 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and subsequently transferred to US custody. Aamer is originally from Saudi Arabia, and his wife and four children are all British nationals and currently live in South London in the United Kingdom (UK).
He had permission to live indefinitely in the UK, on the basis of his marriage to a British national, when he was originally detained by Afghan forces in late 2001.â€¨On February 13/14 2002 he was transferred from US custody in Afghanistan to the US naval base at GuantÃ¡namo Bay in Cuba and has been held there ever since. He is the last former resident of the UK held at GuantÃ¡namo and has never been charged, tried or convicted of any criminal offense by the US authorities.
â€¨Via his lawyers, Shaker Aamer has alleged that he was subjected to torture, including severe beatings, and other ill-treatment while being held in secret detention and interrogated at Bagram Theater Internment Facility, Afghanistan in early 2002.
He has alleged that, as well as US officials, men claiming to be UK Security Service (MI5) officers were present at interrogations during which his head was â€œrepeatedly banged so hard against a wall that it bounced”.â€¨Since his transfer to GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Shaker Aamer has repeatedly alleged that he has been tortured there. According to his lawyers, throughout much of his detention he has been held in solitary confinement.
Shaker Aamer speaks fluent English and his lawyers understand that he has been involved in protesting against conditions at the camp, including participating in hunger strikes and speaking out on behalf of other detainees. They have stated their belief that he has been subjected to prolonged isolation and frequent ill-treatment as punishment for his defiance against his indefinite detention and ill-treatment.
â€¨Shaker Aamerâ€™s lawyers have said that while he remains defiant, his physical and mental health continue to deteriorate. They say that lack of adequate medical treatment for the multiple illnesses from which he is now reported to suffer means that increasingly his long-term health and well-being is at risk.
His legal team is attempting to secure an independent medical assessment for him but claim that US authorities continue to refuse access. His lawyers inform us that despite receiving some medical assistance Shaker Aamer continues to suffer from a number of ailments.
â€¨The UK Government has agreed to accept him if he is returned to the UK and has on numerous occasions since 2007 called for the USA to release him. According to media reports, in March 2009, the then Joint Head of the Counter Terrorism Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Robert Chatterton-Dixon, told the US Department of State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Dell Dailey, that neither the United Kingdom nor Saudi Arabia would prosecute Shaker Aamer if he were released.
â€¨On March 1, 2012, British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Shaker Aamerâ€™s local UK Member of Parliament and legal representatives. AI UK has received confirmation in writing and in person on several occasions that Foreign Secretary Hague has personally raised Shaker Aamerâ€™s case with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling for him to be returned to his family in the UK.
â€¨On September 21, 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice made public a list of 55 current GuantÃ¡namo detainees, including Shaker Aamer, who had been â€œapproved for transferâ€ by the GuantÃ¡namo Review Task Force, a body consisting of officials from key government departments and the intelligence agencies and established under President Barack Obamaâ€™s January 22, 2009 executive order on resolution of the GuantÃ¡namo detentions and the closure of the detention facility.
The Task Forceâ€™s final report was issued on January 22, 2010. The list made public in September 2012 did not include any current detainee whose â€œtransfer statusâ€ was sealed under protective order. A 56th detainee â€œapproved for transferâ€ has been identified since then.
â€¨Despite the seeming willingness of UK authorities to permit Shaker Aamerâ€™s return to the UK and rejoin his family, and the absence to date of any charges, he remains detained without charge or criminal trial at GuantÃ¡namo Bay.â€¨Shaker Aamer’s designation by US authorities as â€œapproved for transferâ€ implies that US authorities have no intention of charging him with criminal offenses. If so, like any other GuantÃ¡namo detainee who is not to be charged, he should be immediately released. In Shaker Aamer’s case he should be released to the UK following repeated requests for his return made by the UK government.
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