Andy Worthington reports that Shaker Aamer (who I think remains detained largely because he is a witness to the murder of three detainees, we already know the Whitehouse knows the vast majority are innocent and keeps them shut up to cover its ass) is today spending his 3000th day in Gitmo. An article in the Wandsworth Guardian by Paul Cahalan, summing up the situation so far, part of a series by Cahalan, via Andy Worthington- see this exclusive interview with David Miliband, and also see here, here, here and here.
He claims he has been tortured, and that British Secret Service agents were complicit in that. He is viewed as a key witness in the case of another Brit who claims he was tortured and is also believed to be witness to the deaths of three detainees in June 2006 – which US authorities say were suicides but others claim were murders by US interrogators.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the case was being “actively engaged”, and at the Foreign Office meeting Mr Lewis told Mrs Aamer: “It is the Government’s clear objective to get him back to the UK. We don’t shout about it because that won’t help”.
So what will it take for the Government to shout?
How about eight years detention without charge, how about him being held despite being cleared for release by a US detainee board in 2007, or him reportedly being held in isolation for nearly three years?
How about him being tortured, how about him being denied basic human rights and access to his lawyers?
How about the only allegations connecting him to torture coming from informants who have already been discredited in other cases and statements he gave to interrogators after torture?
How about death or the worries over the toll of the years of torture and isolation must have taken on him?
How about a former US colonel, a Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying President Bush kept detainees in Guantanamo despite knowing they were innocent?
How about the notion Mr Mickum, Mr Aamer’s US lawyer saying “If he ends up dying down there, I have to say the British will have blood on their hands”.
A change of government that we will have by this time next week (unless weeks of coalition haggling ensue, hmmm) may open up a new environment to pressure for his reales, not that I think any administration will be less keen on using torture and covering up when Washington & our spooks tell them to, but because they can blame this all on the last lot and gain some political capital… perhaps. However the basic fact he is witness to war crimes makes his silence and incarceration a very attractive option for authoritarians in both governments, whatever their party make up. Also via Andy Worthington’s blog Moazzam Begg tells of a message he has received from Shaker-
When I speak to former detainees they say I have a message from Shaker. I ask how is he, he has gone through all sorts of trauma for standing up for the rights of prisoners.
Recently some prisoners were released to Albania, and Shaker sent a message [often messages are shouted across the camp] saying he appreciates all the campaigning and he wants to come back home.
He is seeing all these people released and he is still being held.
People have been released to Ireland, Portugal – detainees who have no connection to those countries, being accepted as refugees in Europe and elsewhere. For Shaker it is devastating.
His family hasn’t received a letter from him for a very long time. I think about him every day. I was there for three years – he has been there nearly three times that.
I’m not sure about his routine, it changes, but based upon what I know, his routine is, he would wake up in the morning, have morning prayer, have breakfast handed over to him through a beanhole in the door.
I believe he is in the maximum security camp, camp 6, which has all isolated cells. Which would mean he spends most of the time in that cell with no communication with any human being and that they would take him out into the recreation yard at the end of the day where he would see a little bit of light.
There will be [electric] light in his cell 24 hours-a-day. They may dim it a little bit at night. He will be sleeping on a metal bunk. His physical make-up would change. Shaker was a big man but from what I have been told he has lost a great deal of weight. His mental state is up and down but remains strong and that is one of the reasons he continues to got punished.
Despite what he has gone through he still stands up for people’s rights. The prisoners love him as an individual. He is communicable and funny and talk with the Americans on their own terms. He will speak out and that is why there is a fear he won’t return.
I know he knows enough that would embarrass British and Americans, he was involved with high level discussions with the colonels about breaking hunger strikes and he has information about intelligence services that people don’t want heard.
All basic human rights only get given to you as much as you co-operate. You get no doctor no proper communication with your family – you give them to the worst convicted prisoners on the planet, but not those in Guantanamo.”
Somebody has to recognise this is wrong and common sense has to prevail…
Shaker has never been tried, let alone charged. It makes no logic or sense, there is no justice.
The campaign to free Shaker needs to get that out.
Of course there are people who latched onto Gita Sahgal’s political attack on Amnesty who would prefer you did not hear such messages. Join the Facebook Group Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and subscibe to Andy Worthingotn’s blog, where he says-
On Friday, I’ll be writing about how those of us concerned with this ongoing travesty of justice can put pressure on the new government
Indeed whatever the result, we shall abide!