Protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Thursday, 24th July, to hold a 'Birthday Party' for Britain's last Guantamo Detainee, Binyam Mohamed [Reports and pics 1 | 2 | 3]. The event was the culmination of a week long vigil which took place outside the US Embassy.
Previous reports: Binyam faces death penalty | Brown urged to act | Binyam sues British Govt. | New report details torture | Reprieve: 'Bring Binyam back' | Guantanamo's last Londoner
Previous actions: London: 1 | 2 | 3 | Sheffield | Nottingham
Binyam Mohamed is a 29-year old Ethiopian national who came to the UK in 1994 as an asylum seeker. He lived and worked in west London for over 7 years. While travelling in South Asia in 2002, Binyam was kidnapped in Pakistan and handed over by the Pakistani military, who were selling foreign nationals at the time for $5000, to the American military, in whose hands he has been ever since. A victim of the “extraordinary rendition” programme, Binyam was taken to Morocco for 18 months where he was tortured horrendously, including having a scalpel used to make incisions on his penis to force confessions from him. He was then “rendered” to the notorious “Dark Prison” in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was held for several months before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2004 where he has been held ever since.
Binyam, who faces a military tribunal at Guantanamo, is reported to be suicidal and on a hunger strike, after being left to his fate by the British state. His military counsel, Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley has said: "I cannot pretend that the US military commissions are fair, but how can we possibly hope to help Mr Mohamed if his own Government leaves him to his fate?"
Throughout this year, a number of actions have taken place calling for justice for Binyam.
"Before the intervention of your government to help me, I was more resigned to my fate, to be held forever without a fair trial. When your government intervened I had hope. But it has been a cruel hope. Nine months later I am still here, no closer to home, still in this terrible prison."
When I learned that my Moroccan torturers were using information supplied by British intelligence, I felt deeply betrayed. When I learned that your government’s lawyers (the Treasury Solicitors) had told my lawyers they had no duty to help prove my innocence, or even that I had been tortured, I felt betrayed again.
The response from the public, who mostly know nothing about Binyam, is overall positive, however there are unfortunately still large pockets of planet Earth's apparently "educated" population who've never heard of "justice", a "fair trial" or being "innocent until proven guilty" (in a fair trial and through due process) before. With usually anything between two to almost a dozen people at the vigil, it has been a success overall and the American Embassy has not been wholly content with our presence outside. However, our demands are quite simple: end the kangaroo court system and release Binyam. The "evidence" against him was procured through torture and after six years of detention with trial, he is more than unlikely to get a fair trial now and potentially faces the death penalty.
Please join us on the last day of this peaceful and unique vigil in the glorious summer sunshine or at the Happy Birthday Binyam! demo at 6pm opposite Downing Street.
Many thanks to the folks at We Are Change UK, Peace and Justice in East London, Brighton Against Guantanamo, CAMPACC and the many great individuals who've supported this action for justice.