Actions and campaigns to get the Guantánamo Bay prison camp shut down.
See also UK Indymedia - Guantánamo
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
Former Guantánamo prisoners including Moazzam Begg and Chris Arendt, a former guard, are completing a UK speaking tour to “mark seven years of unlawful detention, abuse and torture”. The tour, organised by Cage Prisoners started in London on 11th January 2009, exactly seven years after the first transfers to the prison torture camp at Guantánamo Bay at date which was marked in London by a weekend of actions. Sami al-Haj, a former Guantánamo prisoner and Al Jazeera journalist was due to be one of the speakers but instead he joined a Free Gaza boat which was fired on and didn’t make it. By the Sheffield meeting, held on the date of Obama’s inauguration, he had been replaced by Omar Deghayes another former Guantánamo prisoner. In Liverpool the meeting “was held on the same day as the US president signed an order to close Guantanamo. Moazzam Begg was not impressed, and commented that Barack Obama spoke about ‘outlawing torture’ as though he himself had just decided to make it illegal: “It has ALWAYS been illegal, at least in any civilised country”" Further reports can be found on the tour blog.
Campaigns: Cageprisoners | The National Guantánamo Coalition | 100 Days to Close Guantánamo and End Torture | The Campaign against Criminalising Communities | Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) | Reprieve | Andy Worthington
Background: Andy Worthington on Antiwar Radio: Obama, Guantánamo and Torture (audio) | SchNews: [ Inside Guantanamo | Omar Deghayes Speaks to SchNews ] Seven Years of Guantánamo Bay: London Actions | Guantánamo - Obama could do better | Binyam’s Story: From Ladbroke Grove to GTMO | The Rendition Monolgues | Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington on Human Rights in The War on Terror | Can Human Rights Survive the "War on Terror"? | Guantánamo Bay: The Case of Omar Deghayes | Craig Murray: Legality, Morality and the War on Terror
The 11th June Sheffield Guantánamo protest highlighted the case of Binyam Mohamed who, after years of torture is facing the threat of the death penalty. On 31 May over 100 people attended a public meeting concerning his plight and Reprieve organised a protest in Trafalgar Square which took place on Sunday 15th June to highlight the suffering of Binyam Mohamed. The London Guantánamo Campaign are asking for urgent action to be taken for Binyam Mohamed.
Articles: Urgent appeal for British resident Binyam Mohamed, “close to suicide” in Guantánamo | Guantánamo: Torture victim Binyam Mohamed sues British government for evidence | Binyam Mohamed’s letter from Guantánamo to Gordon Brown | Meeting Report: Binyam Mohamed: The Last Londoner in Guantánamo Bay | Take URGENT ACTION for Binyam Mohamed! | New report details torture of Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed | Guantanamo bay / Binyam Mohamed Protest, London 15.06.08
Links: Cageprisoners.com | The National Guantanamo Coalition | Reprieve | Andy Worthington
Saturday, 24th June, saw a day of protest at 5 British airports (Glasgow, Prestwick, Edinburgh, Gatwick and Birmingham International) against the so-called rendition flights, used by the CIA to secretly and illegally transport 'terror suspects' arrested or kidnapped around the world for 'interrogation' in other countries, where torture of prisoners is practiced. The protests were supported by Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, Save Omar Deghayes Campaign and Edinburgh Stop The War Coalition. The 5 are among tens of British and European airports where CIA-owned or chartered jets have been logged.
In Birmingham, about 20 people took part in a vigil on the A45 outside Birmingham International Airport to "demand action to put a stop to the CIA's torture flights". They were later joined by people from Oxford and Coventry. In Edinburgh, the protest involved about 35 people from different campaigns. Banners and placards read "Stop the torture flights", "Stop the War". In both cases, activists were dressed up in orange jump suits, worn by detainees in Guantanamo, and shackled and handcuffed. Similar protests took place at Glasgow, Gatwick and Prestwick airports.
The UK and other EU governments have repeatedly dnied any knowledge of such flights, despite the mounting evidence of their complicity. A report by the Council of Europe's rapporteur, Dick Marty, said European governments, including Britain, were complicit in these abuses. The report was debated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 27 June. [the report in pdf]
Read more: El-Masri suing CIA for flight to prison | List of CIA torture planes | CIA's secret jails | CIA aircraft flying into Scotland | Europe knew | Europe's agreement
Amnesty International's report | Liberty's page on extraordinary rendition.
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