In the days leading up to 11 January 2012, the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay detention centre, Guantánamo prisoners held a three day hunger strike and protest. Beyond the prison walls, the event has been marked with many days of action in the US, Britain and elsewhere around the world. Protesters call for the closure of Guantánamo and the release of the 171 people still incarcerated there without trial.
50 people held a ten day fast, took part in actions in and around Washington DC during this time and supported defendants in a court case which, bizarrely, had been brought by the State using the (misspelt) name of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at Guantánamo: Shakir Ami vs the US. The anniversary demo in DC on 11 January was the largest ever, involving 171 participants in orange jumpsuits and many hundreds of others, so large it split into groups and marched to the Supreme Court, Congress and the Department of Justice. The following day, 37 people in orange jumpsuits and with a full size cage were arrested in front of the White House while protesting against Obama's support for the National Defence Authorization Act, which effectively cancels Obama's promise to shut Guantánamo.
British solidarity actions demanded the release of Shaker Aamer, the closure of Guantánamo and bore witness to torture and other human rights abuses perpetrated there. Events included a rally in Trafalgar Square, a press conference at the Frontline Club, panel discussion at Conway Hall with numerous speakers including former detainees, a screening of the film 'Death in Camp Delta' about a detainee who died in Guantánamo, petition presented to the US Embassy calling for Obama to keep his promise to shut down Guantánamo and a vigil in Haringey during the morning rush hour. In Ireland, protesters held a vigil outside the US Embassy at Ballsbridge and handed a letter to the Ambassador Dan Rooney.
On Tuesday 14th February 2012, the last remaining British resident in Guantanamo, Shaker Aamer will have been in Guantanamo for ten years. The appalling conditions under which he continues to be held were eloquently described by his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith at the Remembrance meeting on Wednesday. Campaigners intend to mark the anniversary by staging a Guantanamo Chain Gang outside the US Embassy calling for him to be returned home to his family. Cage Prisoners believe that his testimony is vital in any investigation of British complicity in torture, and he is surely entitled to return to his home and the family he hasn't seen for ten years as he has been cleared of any wrong doing.
The LGC also maintains that the British government should seek the return to the UK of former British resident Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001. He was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Mr Belbacha fears for his life if forcibly returned to Algeria (an injunction currently prevents this), and remains at Guantánamo awaiting the offer of a safe home.
On the newswire: London Remembers Guantánamo: 10 years | We demand the truth about British involvement in torture | Anniversary demo in DC | 37 arrested at White House | Guantánamo Remembered event at Conway Hall | Campaigners demand Guantánamo closure | From Haringey to Washington DC: Close Guantánamo | Guantánamo prisoners' protest and hunger strike | former guard Brandon Neely on Gitmo | Schedule of anniversary events | Shut Gitmo: End 10 years of Shame - Call-out | Report
Audio reports: Guantánamo Remembered Event at Conway Hall - Introduction | former detainee Moazzam Begg | Attorney Michael Ratner | Vanessa Redgrave reads former detainee Murat Kurnaz | Human Rights lawyer Gareth Peirce | Former detainee Sami Al-Hajj | Human Rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith | Former detainee Omar Deghayes | Chair of Islamic Human Rights Commission Massoud Sadjareh | Three poems brought out of Guantánamo | Audio from DC rally
External links: Reprieve on Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha | Cage Prisoners | Witness Against Torture | Amnesty Report - Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights | Human Rights Watch - Guantánamo Ten Years On
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Join upcoming events:
3rd February: 6-8pm: Candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy, London, to mark 5 years of the London Guantánamo Campaign’s regular “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demo. With performers and poets.
11th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang: Free Shaker Aamer (to mark Shaker’s 10th year in Guantánamo): ASSEMBLE 12 NOON outside NORTHCOTE RD BAPTIST CHURCH, NORTHCOTE RD, LONDON SW11 6DB – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
Walking slowly in chains through the streets of Battersea and Clapham Junction to a rally at the Battersea Islamic Culture and Education Centre, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF
14th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A, 2pm – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaing
On Tuesday 14TH February, Shaker will have been in Guantanamo for 10 years. Please join us at the US Embassy, London, to hand in cards and petitions for President Obama.
Banners, drums and noise welcome.
More details: ssac.contact [at] gmail.com www.saveshaker.org
Not in London or unable to attend events?
- Get your MP to sign EDM 2558 tabled by Caroline Lucas MP to mark the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2558
- Sign Amnesty International’s petition: http://www.protectthehuman.com/petition_actions/10-years-on-end-detentions-at-guantanamo-bay?utm_source=aiuk&utm_medium=homepage&utm_campaign=SWHR&utm_content=Gbaynib
- Sign the following e-petition for a more transparent and fair torture inquiry: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22488