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Mike D | 10.01.2006 23:51 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | Birmingham

A national protest outside the US embassy in London is being organised by groups of Guantanamo campaigners from across the country, and is planned for Saturday 21st January (a week next Saturday). Coaches will be leaving from Carr's Lane Church at 8.30am in Birmingham city centre, and the central mosque at 8.45am. I have tickets for sale: £6 for student/unemployed or £12 employed. Email me at: if you would like to go.

For those of you who have not heard, there are 9 British residents still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, 3 who have been held for over 3 years. None of them have been charged or put on trial. There have been allegations and evidence of torture; Omar Dehayes from Brighton was blinded in one eye by pepper spray. They are currently all on hunger strike and are being force fed, which was made illegal in the Geneva Convention signed by the US over 50 years ago. There are grave concerns about their health and mental state. Unfortunately this has gone largely unreported in the media. Hunger striking is the final act of resistance against oppression, and demonstrates the desperation of these people. A few weeks ago I read a letter from the seven year old son of one of the Guantanamo detainees and I feel obliged to reproduce it here as it reminded me why this is so unequivocally important:-

“Dear Sir Tony Blair, I am a boy called Anas Jamil El-Banna. I am 7 years old. Me and my four brothers are writing to you this letter from my heart because I miss my father. I am wishing that you can help me and my father… Every night I think of my dad and I cry in a very low voice so that my mother doesn't hear, and I dream that he is coming home and gives me a big, big hug. Every Eid I wait for my father to come back. I hope to God that you can help me to bring my daddy back to me. I don't want anything, I just want my daddy please. love Anas - 7 years old, Mohamed - 6 years, Abdulrahman - 4 years, Badeah - 3 years, Mariam - 9 months”

We have been led to believe that we have to choose between a policy of anti-terrorism or a respect for human rights. Yet the opposite is true, we must respect human rights in order to stop terrorism. Of the unknown hundreds of thousands of youths like Anas around the world suffering injustice and oppression, which few will turn to terrorism? We need to face these problems with compassion, understanding, and a resolution to justice, not with a fearful and irrational response of violence, torture, and oppression. This is why I think everyone who can go to this protest should do. Not only to help end this oppression today, but to help build a more peaceful and just world for tomorrow.

There is a petition to sign which is to be sent to Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and Charles Clarke. I know many of you are sceptical of petitions, lobbying MPs, and regular protest, but it did work to release the previous 4 Britons held at Guantanamo Bay.

If you would like protest fliers to distribute then email me at:-

Mike D
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