Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

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!

Posted in Human Rights, Torture. Tags: . Comments Off on Shaker Aamer’s 3000th Day in Guantánamo

Racism Will Turn Arizona Into A Police State

Update: Brewer signed the bill into law.

The slow creeping fascism of a declining empire will have its most explicit success if Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer signs into law SB 1070. In the video below by Nezua he makes the very good point, where are the libertarians when the government is making it a crime not to have your papers with you at all times and present upon request (principled libertarians who are not racist must surely oppose this, hmmm  crickets…). A law whose real intention is to criminalise migrants, both legal and ‘illegal’, it is to make all brown people a suspect.

And below Zack de la Rocha on the law that-

orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

Look at all the wriggle room, it’s a bigot with a badge’s charter.

Amnesty International on the law-

The Arizona House and Senate have passed a bill (SB1070) that would empower police officers to stop and interrogate every individual in the state regarding citizenship status and make it a crime to be an undocumented person in Arizona. If a person does not immediately present documents proving that she is legally in the US, she may be criminally prosecuted, jailed and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The bill contains no safeguards against racial profiling and increases the likelihood of arbitrary arrest and detention. These are all human rights violations. Because SB1070 has already passed in the Arizona house, it’s next stop is the governor’s office. Tell Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. Join activists across the US as they visit the Governor on April 20th to express opposition to this bill.

Why Argentina Is Better Than The US & UK

They tried and sentenced former leader Reynaldo Bignone for crimes against humanity,

Reynaldo Bignone, 82, was convicted along with five other former military officers for 56 cases involving torture, illegal detentions and other crimes in one of Argentina’s largest torture centres, the Campo de Mayo military base.

He was appointed president by the military junta in the waning years of the dictatorship and it fell to him to protect the military as Argentina returned to democracy. He granted amnesty to human rights violators and ordered the destruction of documents related to torture and disappearances of political opponents before agreeing to transfer power to the democratically elected Raul Alfonsin.

Argentina’s courts and congress eventually overturned the amnesty, and President Cristina Fernandez has made a priority of prosecuting leaders of the dictatorship.

At present there is ample evidence to justify a criminal investigation of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld & associates; Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alastair Campbell & associates. Even without such an investigation there is a great deal of evidence of a torture program and an international conspiracy  in order to enable them to perpetrate the supreme crime of a war of aggression that all of them were party to. Subsequent behaviour by the Obama government strongly suggests he and associates are also engaged in criminal activities -torture, summary execution, destruction of evidence/covering up of previous administrations’ crimes.

Now admittedly it took Argentina 27 years to nail their former leader so I’m willing to be a little patient… a little. Also see Otto @ IKN, Uruguay also shows some impressive moves-

Uruguay has just slapped down one of its dictator-era scum today. Ex Chancellor in the dictator era Juan Carlos Blanco was this morning sentenced to 20 years behind bars. The guilty verdict was for his involvement in the disappearance of schoolteacher Elena Quinteros in 1976 and was determined to be a “very specially aggravated murder”.

There is still a way to go, about 30,000 people were ‘disappeared’ in Argentina’s dirty war there are many culprits, political and military figures who used the state apparatus to perpetrate the worst crimes imaginable.

murder, rape, torture, extortion, looting and other serious crimes went unpunished, as long as they were carried out within the framework of the political and ideological persecution

That ideological and political framework was in large part Neoliberal Shock Treatment, a political movement that now retains its h0ld on all the major parties of the US & UK making elections a mockery of actual democracy. Predictably the USA supported and cooperated with the regimes, a slight cooling off during Carter’s term was overturned by St. Ronnie who loved some Latin American blood on his hands, an aspect completely censored from the mainstream hagiographic necrophilia the Empire has for the late senile bad actor & bigot I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

The Anglosphere & North really thinks it is the bees knees, I think the rest of the world is disabusing us of that delusion, and not a moment too soon. Lead, follow or get out of the way; well our leadership is clearly a load of shit, so take note-

Prensa Latina April 20, 2010 — Cochabamba, Bolivia — Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma condemned the capitalist system in the opening session of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth today.

Morales, speaking at the April 20 conference inauguration, started his speech with a slogan, “Planet or death, we shall overcome”. He said that harmony with nature could not exist while 1 per cent of the world’s population concentrates more than 50 per cent of the world’s riches. Capitalism is the main enemy of the Earth, only looking for profits, to the detriment of nature, and capitalism is a bridge for social  inequality.

More than 15,000 representatives from five continents were present at the Esteban Ramirez Ecological Stadium in Tuquipaya when Morales read a letter to future generations to alert of the danger the planet faces.

The letter, written by Morales, said the Earth is giving signals by means of earthquakes, seaquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, droughts and typhoons, so there is a great need to protect the planet.

In his letter, Morales called the attention to climate migrants, 50 million people going from one place to another, a number that could increase to up to 200 million in 2050, because of negative environmental impacts.

Bolivia’s president called on the peoples of the world to join together to face those who kill people and purchase weapons. If capitalism is not changed or eliminated, measures adopted to defend Mother Earth will be precarious and temporary.

Morales criticised the 15th UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a place where the voices of entire peoples and social organisations were not heard. “It is necessary that the UN member countries listen and respect the will of the peoples of the world”, he said.

He confirmed the creation of an alternative organisation of the peoples of the world in defence of nature.

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth will conclude on April 22 with the celebration of International Day for the Mother Earth at the Felix Capriles Stadium in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This is a Bolivian proposal approved by the UN General Assembly in 2009.

According to the Bolivarian Information Agency, taking part in the summit are the presidents of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez; Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Paraguay, Fernando Lugo; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; and Bolivia, Evo Morales. Also present are two Nobel laureates: Argentinean Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu, among other personalities.

More than 50 scientists, social movement leaders, researchers, academics and artists have agreed to speak on 14 panels, including NASA scientist Jim Hansen; Bill McKibben, environmental journalist and leader of; Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva; best-selling author Naomi Klein; Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano; Miguel D’Escoto, former president of the UN General Assembly; Lumumba Di-Aping, former lead negotiator for the G77; along with leaders from leading environmental organisations and communities at the frontline of climate change.

Death By Medical Neglect & A Riot, But Look- Shiny GE

At Oakington Migrant Detention Centre (named second worst and ‘unsafe’ in an official report by the Chief prison inspector Anne Owers) a man died (believed to be a Kenyan national), there was a riot and our supposedly over stretched security forces rustled up 150 riot officers to kidnap protesters and disperse them to prisons. However as there is a nice shiny General Election campaign going on and the only look in for migrants is which party victimises them to best electoral effect, so y’know, whatever huh? Details are sketchy, the Beeb have, as is their current style, taken the official information and relayed it as fact, some more detailed reporting has been done by a local paper Cambridge News, but first the Guardian report of the death-

One source told the Guardian that the man, who is thought to have had a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen “crawling around the floor in pain” before he died. The source claimed the man’s pleas for help were refused by staff at the centre, which is run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.

Dashty Jamal, general secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, told the Guardian he had spoken to detainees and had also been told the man died of a heart attack: “He was asking for a doctor. It’s very hard to get a doctor there. He had a heart attack and he died.”

After that protest at the neglect and death, Cambridge News-

RIOT police were deployed to Oakington Immigration Centre when violent scenes erupted and a detainee’s body was held hostage. A mob of upset inmates smashed down the gates of one compound as anger flared after the death of a 40-year-old yesterday morning. Detainees prevented police invest¬igators from going into the dormitory where the body of the man lay. More than 180 inmates held a courtyard protest demanding better treatment and calling for an inquiry as tensions mounted.

A News photographer was able to take a picture of scenes within the compound after being taken up in an aircraft. The protesters were angry about the circumstances surrounding the death of the man, thought to be a Kenyan national, who had become ill. He died in the early hours of the morning from what is believed to be a heart attack.

Inmates also threatened to go on hunger strike claiming the man’s death could have been prevented.

Around 150 police including riot control officers poured into the centre. The coroner’s van waited at the centre all day during the standoff as police negotiators spoke to inmates. Officers eventually persuaded inmates to allow officers into the dormitory and the body was later taken away by officials from the coroner’s office.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Officers did negotiate with inmates to enter the dormitory where the body was so that scenes of crimes investigators could enter.

“Police wanted to enter peacefully and were allowed in after negotiations. The body has now been taken from the centre and a post-mortem will be held tomorrow.”

One inmate told the News earlier in the day: “There are about 200 people all very upset. The authorities have done nothing to help him and now he is dead. I think there will be a riot here.”

From the Morning Star

Medical Justice, a campaign group which works closely with asylum-seekers in detention, said that it had repeatedly warned the government about conditions in Oakington and other centres. Medical Justice clinical director Dr Frank Arnold said: “If reports are true that adequate health care was denied to this man, we are sadly not surprised.

“Actually, we are surprised a detainee hasn’t died sooner – our volunteer doctors who visit detainees have come across hundreds of cases where medication and access to hospital has been denied. We have warned the government and the private companies it contracts the running of detention centres to about the many cases of dangerous medical mismanagement we have seen. We call for the immediate closure of Oakington. Our volunteer doctors have found that the harm being caused by immigration removal centres is so widespread that the only solution is to close them down.”

In 2008, Oakington was singled out for serious criticism by the prison inspectorate. Inspectors found that staff at the facility had used excessive force, maintained poor facilities and that there was a rising level of self-harm among detainees.

In January this year, a Bolivian family who had been detained at Oakington for 42 days received a settlement of £100,000 from the Home Office after it admitted falsely imprisoning them. Solicitors for Carmen Quiroga and her four children said Ms Quiroga had suffered verbal abuse and threats from staff, and was denied access to medicine and children’s food. On one occasion, she was struck by a guard in front of her children for failing to maintain eye contact.

Subsequently the authorities got the camp and the media locked down and the story became ‘ringleaders’ and injured security forces, I find it unlikely no detainees have been injured but news is coming through official channels so clearly they will not volunteer that information-

A NUMBER of security staff and a police officer were injured in a move to take out 60 detainees from Oakington immigration centre. A detainee speaking to the News shortly before the action said they feared the UK Border Agency was removing “ring-leaders” of a protest over the death of a fellow inmate on Thursday. The death of the 40-year-old man, bellieved to be a Kenyan national, prompted a huge disturbance at the centre near Cambridge.

The move on Friday night led to minor injuries among officers and it is thought the removed detainees are being taken to prisons. A Home Office spokesperson said a “number of ringleaders have been removed from Oakington”.

“The death of the man on Thursday is not being treated as suspicious, but a Home Office spokesman said he believed detainees had used the death “as a way of protesting, trying to get their point of view across”.

So they reckon to have gotten away with it, refusing a man medical care quite possibly causing his death, justifiably angry and desperate detainees showing solidarity and protesting are pejoratively called ‘ringleaders’ and massive security force response to spirit them away to unnamed prisons. Now is there something wrong with me that I find this not acceptable activity for this country a supposed open democracy that is actually undergoing an election campaign at present so such news should have greater impact not less. Of course -greater- would rely 0n any of the parties valuing migrants and not using them as scapegoats for the negative ‘externalities’ of their neoliberal approaches to economic and social policies from which none of the the parties significantly deviate (not significantly enough to justify the interest and enjoyment exhibited by GE obsessed new and old media). Death, riot and imprisonment without trial, happening right now, anyone want to give a shit about that? Huh? Anyone? Hello…?

PS. Cambridge Migrant Solidarity will be holding a demonstration in solidarity with the detainees in Oakington this Sunday between 12 noon and 2pm. If you would like to join people cycling from Cambridge, meet on Parkside (next to Parker’s Piece), by coach bay 16 at 10am. There will be transport available for people from Cambridge leaving from the same meet up point at Parkside at 10:30am. There will be transport available for people travelling from outside Cambridge, leaving from Cambridge train station at 11:30. Please call or text 078 7979 3739 now, if you would like transport at either time, so we can make sure we arrange enough to get everyone there. There are no public transport services near the Removal Centre (it is not in Oakington village).

Upsurge In Asylum Seekers In Industrialised World Is A Myth

It is a glaring fact the top three sources of asylum claims are from countries where the war-on-terror™ is being conducted, so a very important component of the demagogic attacks on asylum seekers is nationalists wanting to silence witnesses and survivors of the war crimes being committed in our names. Yes, I mean you Phil Woolas. Asylum policy as part of the war strategy, the collective punishment of entire civilian populations including denying them safe haven. Yes there are many other factors (resource curse, Capital predation, corruption) but as this shows there is not a ‘swamping’ and if you wanted solutions not blowing the shit out of peoples homes should figure somewhat higher than locking up children, unless of course we happily welcome being despotic imperial scum (or the Good Old Days as it is known to the Establishment).

UNHCR:- The overall number of asylum seekers in industrialized nations was stable in 2009, according to the UNHCR provisional statistical report that measures asylum levels and trends in industrialized nations.

“The notion that there is a flood of asylum seekers into richer countries is a myth,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “Despite what some populists claim, our data shows that the numbers have remained stable.”

Compared to 2008, the overall number of asylum seekers remained the same with 377,000 applications, despite significant regional disparities highlighted by the report. The number of asylum applications increased in 19 countries, while they fell in the other 25. Of note was the Nordic region that recorded a 13 percent increase with 51,100 new applicants, the highest in six years. By contrast, the number of applications in southern Europe went down by 33 percent with 50,100 claims, driven by significant declines in Italy (-42%), Turkey (-40%) and Greece (-20%).

Afghan claims on the rise

Afghans topped the list of asylum applicants with 26,800 submissions representing a 45 per cent increase over 2008. Iraqis dropped to second place with some 24,000 claims, while Somalis moved to third position with 22,600 asylum applications. Among the top countries of origin were also the Russian Federation, China, Serbia, and Nigeria.

The yearly UNHCR report analyses asylum levels and trends in the 27 European Union member states, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey. It also covers the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

The United States stayed the main destination country for the fourth year, with 13 percent of the claims representing an estimated 49,000 people, in particular from China. Second was France, receiving 42,000 new applications in 2009, a 19 percent hike compared to 2008, due to increasing claims from citizens of Serbia originating predominantly from Kosovo. Canada, while still ranking third among receiving countries, saw the number of asylum applications decrease by 10 percent in 2009 down to 33,000 after a drop in Mexican and Haitian claims. Following was The United Kingdom which also registered a drop in claims with 29,800 applications, one of the lowest in 15 years. On the other hand, claims in Germany increased by 25 percent with 27,600 applications recorded in 2009, making it the fifth largest receiving country. Together, these five top destination countries received 48 percent of the total claims recorded in 2009.

In terms of regions of origin, nearly half of the total 377,000 applicants originate from Asia and the Middle East (45%), followed by Africa (29%), Europe (15.5%), and the Americas (9%).

Posted in Migrant Rights, War On Terror Era. Tags: . Comments Off on Upsurge In Asylum Seekers In Industrialised World Is A Myth

Jim Lobe On Drone Legality

(IPS) – While welcoming an initial effort by the administration of President Barack Obama to offer a legal justification for drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists overseas, human rights groups say critical questions remain unanswered.

In an address to an international law group last week, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh insisted that such operations were being conducted in full compliance with international law.

“The U.S. is in armed conflict with al Qaeda as well as the Taliban and associated forces in response to the horrific acts of 9/11 and may use force consistent with its right to self-defence under international law,” he said. “…(I)ndividuals who are part of such armed groups are belligerents and, therefore, lawful targets under international law.”

Moreover, he went on, “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war,” which require limiting attacks to military objectives and that the damage caused to civilians by those attacks would not be excessive.

While right-wing commentators expressed satisfaction with Koh’s evocation of the “right to self-defence” – the same justification used by President George W. Bush – human rights groups were circumspect.

“We are encouraged that the administration has taken the legal surrounding drone strikes seriously,” said Jonathan Manes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “While this was an important and positive first step, a number of controversial questions were left unanswered.”

“We still don’t know what criteria the government uses to determine that a civilian is acting like a fighter, and can therefore be killed, and… whether there are any geographical limits on where drone strikes can be used to target and kill individuals,” he told IPS.

“He didn’t really say anything that we took issue with,” said Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who also complained about the lack of details.

“But it still leaves unanswered the question of how far the war paradigm he’s talking about extends. Will it extend beyond, say, ungoverned areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen? Because you don’t want to leave a legal theory out there that could be exploited by a country like Russia or China to knock off its political enemies on the streets of a foreign city,” he added.


Hmmm….while we have concerns about the Death Star we are pleased with Governor Obama’s efforts (so much more charming than that awful Governor Dubya Tarkin) to address the difficult legal issues regarding his blowing up planets program… Interestingly Amnesty International, the only non US founded organisation, is the most critical, it’s a heady brew that imperialism-

Tom Parker of Amnesty International was more scathing about Koh’s position, suggesting that it was one more concession – along with indefinite detention and special military tribunals for suspected terrorists – to the framework created by Bush’s “global war on terror”.

“The big issue is where the war is and whether it’s a war, and we couldn’t disagree more strongly as to the tenor of Koh’s comments,” he said. “It goes back to the idea of an unbounded global war on terror where terror is hardly defined at all.”

Spanish Fascists Try To Silence Human Rights Judge

(IPS) – Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, who became world-famous when he issued the warrant that resulted in former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s arrest in London in 1998, is now facing legal charges himself, which could cost him his job.

Garzón, who sits on the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s highest criminal court, is accused of overreaching his judicial powers for his 2008 decision to investigate human rights crimes committed during Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war and the 1939-1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco, which were covered by an amnesty issued by parliament in 1977, two years after the dictator’s death.

The high court magistrate began investigating the forced disappearance of some of the more than 100,000 victims of that crime, arguing that under international law no amnesty can apply to crimes against humanity.

In response to legal action brought by “associations for the recovery of the historical memory” which group the families of victims of forced disappearance in different regions of the country, he ordered the exhumation of 19 unmarked mass graves around the country.

One of the graves is said to hold the body of poet Federico García Lorca, who was killed by pro-Franco forces in 1936 in the southern city of Granada.

The charges against Garzón were filed by the far-right organisations Manos Limpias, which calls itself a trade union but is not registered as such, Libertad e Identidad (Freedom and Identity), and Falange, Spain’s fascist party.

The groups accuse him of abuse of power for investigating crimes that were covered by the 1977 amnesty.

On Mar. 25, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Garzón, who argued that he did not overstep the bounds of his jurisdiction, and that his investigation was legitimate. The Court thus ruled that the case against him could proceed.

The case will be put in the hands of ultraconservative Judge Adolfo Prego, a member of the Honorary Board of the extreme-right “Foundation for Defense of the Spanish nation” (Denaes).

The charges against Garzón have triggered an outcry in Spain, from socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero – who pointed to the judge’s fight against terrorism – trade unions, civil society organisations and judicial colleagues.

The two main trade union federations, the UGT and CCOO, issued a statement “publicly expressing our solidarity at this time with Judge Garzón.”

International organisations have also expressed their concern. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) presented an open letter to Spanish judicial authorities requesting that the charges against Garzón be dropped.


UK Govt. Declares Chagos Marine Reserve

I have to give full props to the BBC for this short but inclusive bulletin, it talks about the islanders far more than any of the petitions (see here or here) or the co-opted environmental shills for the marine reserve ever did-

The UK government has designated an area around the Chagos Islands as the world’s largest marine reserve. The reserve would cover a 544,000 sq km area around the Indian Ocean archipelago, regarded as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems. This will include a “no-take” marine reserve where commercial fishing will be banned.

But islanders, who live in exile, have expressed concern that a reserve may in effect ban them from returning. The islands are known for their clean waters and unspoilt corals. Conservationists say the islands possess up to half the healthy reefs in the Indian Ocean. However, Chagossians have said the protected zone could prevent them from fishing – their main livelihood.

The former residents, who were evicted from the British overseas territory between 1967 and 1971 to make way for a US Air Force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, have fought a long-running battle in the UK courts for the right to return.

Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strike To End On March 19

From Black Women’s Rape Action Project via Harpy


This is to inform the authorities and the public that the on-going hunger strike is to be suspended on the 19 March 2010 at 9.00 am. We are giving the authorities and immigration the chance to look at all the issues raised before and during the strike. We are hoping that management at Serco will review problems at Yarl’s Wood. Also, we expect immigration to carefully look at the cases of women held at the detention centre.

The suspension will last for three weeks until something is done to all the issues that had been raised. Our position will be reviewed on suspension of the hunger strike if there are no changes to the problems and issues. Nobody wants to go on hunger strike, but if the authorities and immigration do not listen to us then we can resume the hunger strike on the 9 April 2010. This letter will be sent with a copy of the problems that we face at Yarl’s Wood.

We are demanding the following actions

*There should be a full investigation into what happened during the peaceful protest on 8 February 2010.

*Any travel arrangement for the women who were involved with the protest should be suspended until after the investigation.

*End the frustrations, physical and mental torture at the centre

*Allow enough time and make resources available to residents who need to fully present their cases.

*To end all false allegations and misrepresentations by the UKBA regarding detainees in order to refuse bail or temporary admissions.

*Access to appropriate medical treatment and care as in the community, access to edible and well cooked food, cancel weekly mobile phones charges and allow phone connections, with camera and recording facilities to back up cases.

*To stop the forceful removal and degrading system of deportation of detainees

*To put law into practice, European rules governing standard of conditions of detention for migrants and asylum seekers and the length of time in detention.

*Detention should be by a standard procedure prescribed by law, authorized by judicial authority and be subjected to periodic judicial reviews.

*To end the detention of children and their mothers, rape survivors and other torture victims, to end the detention of physically, mentally sick people and pregnant women for long period of time.

* Stop the fingerprinting and taking photograph of our visitors (Even real prisons don’t do this to visitors)

*To end the separation of children from their mothers being detained whether in detention or by destitution.

*There should be an interpreter for non English speaking women in the wings to help them with their queries.

*To end the detention of women after serving time in prison.  Women served their sentence they should not be punished again by detention or deportation.

* The extortion of Yarl’s Wood shop must end. The shop charges us extra 20p per item, even though the centre knows we have no money.

* To abolish the fast track system, in order to give asylum seekers a fair chance with their application, while understanding the particular needs of victims of torture, and access to reliable legal representation which the fast track system denies.

*There should be more female offices and black offices. The centre is 80 percent black detainee and only female offices should search our rooms.

*There are very little activities in the centre. There are 12 computer (which is very slow to use), 10 chairs in the arts room with small material to work with. This is suppose to cater for more than 400 women. The library have no popular books and all the books are very old. We are not allowed to order books from other library.

*To end the repeat detention of women granted temporary admission while reporting or signing after a short period out of detention.

*To a set period of time allowed to detain women, which should be no longer than one month, while waiting decision either from UKBA or court proceedings.

*Finally instead of detention of foreign nationals, there are alternatives to detention stated by the *Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). ‘The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe ‘, Adopted on the 28th January 2010, extracts  below.

9.1.1.       detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants shall be exceptional and only used after first reviewing all other alternatives and finding that there is no effective alternative; placement in special establishments (open or semi-open); registration and reporting; release on bail/surety; controlled release to individuals, family members, NGOs, religious organizations, or others; handover of travel and other documents, release combined with appointment of a special worker;

Full Text: Council of Europe – Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1707 (2010)1
The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe

Yasmin Says

This is an important article because it sounds a warning, a liberal Western woman & Muslim writing in a mainstream newspaper feeling this way tells us some very rotten things are afoot

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: British Muslims are running out of friends
The establishment has surpassed its previous disgraceful record in its attitudes to Islam

I am but Muslim lite, a non-conformist believer who will not be told what and how by sanctimonious religious sentinels for whom religion is a long list of rules to be obeyed by bovine followers. Readers know I am often critical of Muslim people and nations. Bad things that happen to us cannot all be attributed to “Islamophobia”, a nebulous and imprecise concept that, like anti-Semitism, can be used to besmirch and sully and silence criticism.

But this week even I, even I, can see that for the British establishment Muslims are contemptible creatures, devalued humans. As I prayed before starting this column I felt tears stinging my eyes and my face was burning as if I had been slapped many times over. Do they expect me to turn the other cheek? Millions of other Muslims must have felt what I did. And some may well go on to do things they shouldn’t. Their acts will intensify anti-Muslim prejudices and will be used to justify injustice. The cycle is vicious and unrelenting.

Once again at weddings and birthday parties, in quiet, tranquil mosques, at dinner tables across the land, including those of millionaire Muslims, I am hearing murmurs of trepidation and disquiet – voices kept low, sometimes vanishing into whispers, just in case; you never know if they will break down the door. These people are, like myself, well incorporated into the nation’s busy life. Some own restaurants and businesses, others work in the City or law firms and chambers. At one gathering a frightfully posh, Muslim public school boy (aged 14), an excellent cricketer, said in his jagged, breaking voice: “I will never live in this country after finishing my education. They hate us. They’ll put us all in prison. Nothing we do is OK. Do you think I am wrong Mrs Yasmin?” No I don’t, though his hot young blood makes him intemperate.

Where do I start? Well, with the PM who takes himself to the moral high ground at every opportunity, to orate and berate as he did when called in by the placid Chilcot panel. The son of a preacher man, John Ebenezer Brown, Gordon has the manse gene. Unlike the shape-shifter Blair, he is authentically himself, driven by embedded values, and I admire that. But, like his predecessor, he is shockingly indifferent to the agony of the people most affected by the Iraq war, a war Brown still says was “the right” thing to do for the “right reasons”. His only regret? They should have thought a bit more about what to do next after they had defeated Saddam and pulled down his statues.

Not a word about the countless Iraqis killed when we bombed indiscriminately in civilian areas, no word of sorrow, however hollow or feigned, about the dead children or those now born in that blighted land with two heads and other grotesque abnormalities. John Simpson’s recent BBC report described the rising number of such births in Fallujah, picked for the cruelest collective punishment by America.

Are they not children, Mr Brown? You still cry for your own baby, who died so young. For Muslims, that only confirms native Iraqis are grains of sand to those who executed the imperial war. Martinique intellectual and liberationist Aimee Cesaire wrote: “Colonisation works to de-civilise the coloniser, to brutalise him … to degrade him.” We saw how with Brown, whose empathy is withheld from Iraqis, Muslim victims tortured with the connivance of our secret services and perhaps from all citizens who pray to Allah.

Meanwhile at Isleworth Crown Court, Judge John Denniss is industriously sentencing demonstrators who gathered near the Israeli embassy to rail against that state’s attack on Gaza, one of the worst acts of state terrorism in recent history. Our government said nothing then, and were therefore complicit. Protesters came from all backgrounds but the vast majority of those arrested were young Muslim men. Dozens are being sent down for insignificant acts of bravado. Some were about to go to university, to train as dentists and the like. Their homes were raided, families cowed and terrified. Joanna Gilmore, an academic expert on public demonstrations, says never before have such disproportionate sentences been handed out, not even with the volatile anti-globalisation protests. Denniss intends his punishments to be a deterrent. To deter us from what? Having the temerity to believe we live in a democracy and are free to march?

And then the crypto-fascist, Aryan Geert Wilders, is invited into the Lords by UKIP and crossbench peers to show his vile anti-Islam film in the name of freedom of expression. Freedom my arse. It is just another entertaining episode of Muslim-baiting. I dare the same peers to now invite David Irving, the Holocaust denier, to share his thoughts freely in the Lords, and get Omar Bakri over from the Lebanon with films of himself making fiery speeches on what to do with infidels. Again Muslims are made to understand that different standards apply to others. We are on trial, always, and always must expect to lose.

I am here accusing the most powerful in government, parliament and the judiciary, not those individual MPs, peers and judges who try to do the right thing. To them we are immensely grateful, and to the extraordinary lawyers, activists, journalists, artists, writers and ordinary Britons fighting ceaselessly for our liberties. We just witnessed Helena Kennedy in court passionately defending Cossor Ali, accused of providing active support to her convicted terrorist husband. The jury, scrupulously fair, bless them, acquitted the young woman. Muslims involved in crime and violent Islamicism must be tried and punished. But their acts do not give lawmakers and law keepers of this land licence to strip the rest of us of our humanity and inviolable democratic entitlements.

During the dark days of the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Irish in Britain were often treated unjustly by parliament, police, judges like Lord Denning, and vast sections of the media. Under Thatcher, miners and trades unionists were mercilessly “tamed”, too. But this time, with Muslims, the establishment has surpassed its previous disgraceful record. They steal our human and civil rights and don’t even try to behave with a modicum of honour during and after war. The same people call upon us to be more “British” but treat us as lesser citizens. Deal or No Deal? You tell me.

Free Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer is basically a hostage because he is a witness to events behind the murder of three other detainees, he is being held in order to protect murderers in the US detention forces and because he also has been tortured which both the US & UK govts want to cover up. A hostage held by criminal gangs who also run an empire and an empire’s poodle-

Send a letter to David Miliband calling for the return from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer
By Andy Worthington

Throughout 2010, former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and I are touring the UK, showing the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself). The film focuses on the stories of three British residents — Shaker Aamer, Binyam Mohamed and Omar — and throughout the tour we are encouraging audiences to campaign on behalf of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still held at Guantánamo, despite being cleared for release in 2007.

Omar and I are primarily encouraging people to write letters to foreign secretary David Miliband, urging him to do more to secure Shaker’s return, and I’m extending this campaign to the internet by reproducing below a letter that readers can cut and paste and send to David Miliband. The letter was drafted by the London Guantánamo Campaign, and I’ve come up with my own edit, but please feel free to come up with your own version.

Further information about Shaker can be found here, here, here and here, and you can also email David Miliband and write to Prime Minister Gordon Brown via an Amnesty International campaign page here. You can also urge your MP to sign an Early Day Motion calling for Shaker’s release, proposed by Shaker’s MP, Martin Linton (you can contact your MP here).

And finally, if you wouldn’t mind spreading the word further, you can follow the advice of Shaker’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, who told the audience at the NFT for last Saturday’s screening of “Outside the Law” that we should initiate a new campaign, “10 x 10 x 10 for Shaker Aamer,” whereby everyone concerned about this gross miscarriage of justice urges ten people they know to send a letter to David Miliband, and each of these ten people is urged to tell another ten people, and so on.

Please cut and paste the letter below, and feel free to change it as you see fit:

David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH

Dear Foreign Secretary,

You will be aware that, as of 22 January this year, the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay was still open, despite the fact that one of President Obama’s first pledges as President was to close it by this date. 188 prisoners are still held there, and many of those men, cleared for release by the President’s own task Force, cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will be tortured or subjected to other ill-treatment, and are effectively stateless.

The government has succeeded over the past six years in securing the release of all the British nationals held there, and all but one of the British residents. Given our strong relationship with the US, there is far more that the British government could — and should — be doing. You have asserted your commitment to closing Guantánamo Bay, but this has yet to be demonstrated in the case of the final British resident, Shaker Aamer, who was cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2007.

We have been told that the return of Shaker Aamer to his British wife and four British children is being sought, and that discussions between the UK and the US are ongoing. Nevertheless, Shaker is still held, and intervention must be made at the highest levels to secure his release, as happened with other prisoners.

Other European countries have demonstrated over the past year that it is possible to offer new homes to cleared prisoners, even when they have no prior ties to the country. France, for example, having secured the return of its own nationals, accepted two Algerian nationals last year, as well as the family of one of these men, and Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland have also accepted prisoners on a purely humanitarian basis. There are no reasons for the British government not to accept a small number of prisoners on a humanitarian basis to help close Guantánamo Bay.

Over the past eight years, for example, you have argued that there is no basis to accept Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian man who lived in Bournemouth and cannot return to Algeria for fear for his life, because he was a failed asylum seeker. Mr. Belbacha was also cleared for release in 2007, and yet he remains in Guantánamo because no other country will take him, and because the British government, which could so easily offer him a new home, has turned its back on him.

The British government must demonstrate its commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law by helping to close down Guantánamo Bay, and it can — and should — do this by pressing for the return of Shaker Aamer, accepting Ahmed Belbacha and accepting other prisoners on a humanitarian basis.

Yours faithfully,

Avaaz & Environmentalists 4 Ethnic Cleansing

Another petition this time by Avaaz that makes little mention of the Chagos Islanders (a simple ‘work with Chagossians‘ without mention of their current dispossession by the UK) who were forcibly removed by the UK government so it could rent the islands (primarily the largest one Diego Garcia) to the US military that uses it to launch bombing raids on the Middle East and transit renditioned captives. This marine conservation proposal is greenwashing a historic ethnic cleansing by the UK on the behalf of the US military, worse is the conservationist lobby are aware of this, the prioritising of their pet project above the rights of the islanders is obscene-

Chairman of the Chagos Refugee Group, Olivier Bancoult, has had a letter published in the influential Science in Parliament journal (reproduced below), taking issue with a number of claims made by the Chagos Environment Network’s Professor Charles Sheppard. In particular, Mr Bancoult refutes Prof Sheppard’s suggestions that a resettlement of the Chagos islands by its indigenous population would be counter-productive to the aim of environmental protection.

In 2009, Prof Sheppard, who is Professor of Marine Sciences at Warwick University but is also employed by the UK Government as its BIOT Scientific Adviser, wrote in Science in Parliament (full text available here) that the environmental conservation of the Chagos islands could be best achieved by keeping the islands free from human habitation:

Examples of good habitat, like that in Chagos, are running out, so should we now revert to preserving a few ‘legacy’ areas which, on one hand, are in good condition now for whatever reason, and on the other have a good chance of remaining so? Candidate sites are few and diminishing, and we must remember that once gone, all past evidence shows that we cannot get it back.

Chagos is probably the only remaining site in the Indian Ocean where this could work. The social dimension may still need a solution, but the science is pretty clear – the ocean needs Chagos as it is.

The signal from this passage is that Prof Sheppard’s vision for marine protection in Chagos simply does not include the Chagossians. Rather, Prof Sheppard seems to unashamedly prioritise the goal of conservation far higher than the need to address the rights of the archipelago’s indigenous people – two things that he appears to portray as being mutually exclusive.

Let there be no doubt: keeping Chagos “as it is” would involving keeping the Chagossians in exile.

In response to criticism of its campaign, the CEN has been at pains to stress that it is not opposed to a Chagossian resettlement of their islands, instead suggesting that their proposals for a no-take reserve in Chagos are entirely “without prejudice” to the possibility of resettlement. However, the content of this article from Prof Sheppard – who is listed as an individual member of the CEN coalition alongside organisations like the Pew Environment Group and the RSPB – calls that claim into question.

In his letter to Science in Parliament, Mr Bancoult takes issue with Prof Sheppard’s claims.

He points out that Sheppard is wrong to argue that attempts at involving local people in husbanding their environments have invariably failed, citing Elinor Ostrom’s work on how user-managed natural resources can actually be preserved much better than those covered by Government regulation (work for which Ostrom was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Economics last year).

Mr Bancoult further cites UN Environment Programme studies into coral conservation, “community-based habitat regeneration and site preservation activities” in the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, as well as ongoing conservation activities in Mauritius as reasons why Prof Sheppard’s dismissal of community engagement is unfounded.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Mr Bancoult directly challenges the credibility of Prof Sheppard’s claim that “a recent survey” of Chagossians had indicated that “only about a dozen individuals [would] wish to return permanently.”

In fact, Mr Bancoult points out that, to his organisation’s knowledge, no such survey has taken place in either Mauritius or the Seychelles, where the majority of Chagossians now live (given that the CRG is the biggest Chagossian organisation, it is likely that its members would have heard of such a survey if it existed). Furthermore, estimates by the CRG have concluded that as many as 150 Chagossian families want to return to their islands.

Far better is this petition which I urge you to sign-

The Marine Education Trust’s petition to “protect both the marine ecosystem of the Chagos archipelago and the rights of its exiled community” has reached over 1,400 signatures.  The petition can still be signed by clicking this link.

The MET is calling upon the FCO to devise and implement a ”fourth option” for a marine protected area (MPA) in Chagos, acknowledging that the three options laid down in the FCO’s consultation document are inadequate because they (i) do not provide for either the rights of the Chagossians or the interests of the Government of Mauritius, and therefore (ii) seriously jeopardise both the short- and the long-term viability of an MPA in the Chagos islands.

In adopting this stance, the MET is joined by other respected organisations such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the Natural Resource Defence Committee and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, as well as the hundreds of scientists, ecologists, conservationists, academics, activists, students, lawyers, politicians, parliamentarians and others who have signed its petition.

As has been previously discussed on this website, the MET petition is markedly different from another petition doing the rounds on the Internet: that of the Chagos Environment Network (CEN).

In contrast to the MET’s proposal for a “fourth option,” the CEN’s Protect Chagospetition has disingenuously sought to present the FCO’s consultation as a binary “Yes or No” choice: “Do you want to protect Chagos or not?”  Of course, the issues are much, much more complicated than this: the FCO is conducting a consultation, not a ”tick any box” referendum!

The War On Children, Stranger Still

Daily Times Saeed Minhas:- ISLAMABAD: During efforts to trace Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s missing 11-year-old daughter Mariam, international organisations have stumbled upon nearly a dozen juvenile girls who have been languishing in several Afghan jails, sources privy to the search told Daily Times on Tuesday.

Not much is known about these girls, and most are referred to by the numbers allotted to them, just like Dr Aafia was. Sources said that during their visits to some of the jails, they requested the authorities to transfer these girls out of captivity to a safer place because the harsh environment in these prisons might “ruin their lives”.

Daily Times also learnt that DNA tests of three girls aged between 11 and 12 – who did not appear to be Afghans – were conducted in an attempt to find Mariam, but the tests came back negative.

However, sources said a number of international NGOs working on child trafficking and human rights, have been contacted by the Pakistani government to try and locate Mariam in other jails in Afghanistan. Islamabad has also contacted the Afghan government and the US CENTCOM to cooperate with the NGOs in this regard.

Mariam is the second child of Dr Aafia and was only three-and-a-half-years old when she, her five-year-old brother Ahmed, six-month-old baby brother Suleman and their mother were picked up from outside their Karachi home by US Marines and local police in 2003, according to Dr Aafia’s friends and family members.

Following the verdict of a US jury in the Dr Aafia’s case, Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to US, has personally apologised to the family for the unfortunate decision and has promised to recover the missing child, family sources said. They also revealed that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had also said that he would see to it that Dr Aafia spent her prison time in Pakistan.

But various legal experts and officials of the foreign and interior ministries have now confirmed that in the absence of a prisoner exchange treaty between the US and Pakistan, bringing Dr Aafia back would only be possible on ‘humanitarian grounds’, provided the US agreed to the request.

Diplomatic sources have also told Daily Times that her repatriation would only be possible if Dr Aafia agreed to maintain her silence and issue no statements regarding her arrest and subsequent treatment during captivity in Afghanistan and US. They held that since the issue had become very sensitive for both the US and Pakistan, certain UK lobbyists had stepped in to ask the US to repatriate Dr Aafia to serve out the rest of her prison term in Pakistan. These mediators have also assured that she will maintain her silence while in Pakistan and there would be no cause for embarrassment for any concerned party. Ironically, these sources also revealed that throughout the Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s trial, Pakistan never officially asked for her release or repatriation to Pakistan, and that even now, Pakistan has to officially seek her repatriation before the current US administration starts thinking about it.

So almost a dozen 11-12 year old girls in Afghan jails who are not Afghans, a UK lobbyist (our spooks, our govt?) ensuring she stays silent as to her treatment and the missing five years (and if as some claim she was free those 5 years why do they need her to be silent? Only adds up if she was in a ghost site, if she was the Grey Lady of Bagram or working for us). Yeah nothing to see here, move along…

Posted in Human Rights, War on Terror Scam. Tags: . Comments Off on The War On Children, Stranger Still

Meg Hillier Wins The Thatcher Award For Abusing Hunger Strikers!

Not content with keeping them detained in Yarl’s Wood where they have suffered violence and racist abuse (now minus five who were bum rushed out in an attempt to stop the strike, see below) she has launched a propaganda assault. She sent a letter (pdf) to every MP claiming everything there is just peachy keen, however her fellow Labour MP Dianne Abbot has written in the Guardian a refutation of her claims- Meg Hillier may deny the extent of the poor conditions at the asylum detention centre, but I have seen them for myself– further to this here is another answer to her propaganda, her points with corresponding correction from Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project-who are in contact with the hunger strikers-

Meg Hillier, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, has written to every MP denying that women are still on hunger strike: “Whilst there are a small number of detainees refusing formal meals from the canteen, they are buying food from the centre’s shop and vending machines and having food delivered by visitors.”

34 women wrote denying these lies and pointing out that visitors are banned from bringing in food.

Other false claims in the government letter include:

1. “Women are only removed after their cases have been ‘fully considered.” Rape survivors and victims of other torture are still routinely assessed under the fast-track, where a case is settled in 10 days leaving no time to gather expert reports crucial to corroborating a claim of persecution. 99% of cases are refused. Listen to this week’s Woman’s Hour interview with Isata Denton Ceesay of All African Women’s Group, whose case was fast tracked, and Gauri van Gulik, Human Rights Watch on their report “Fast-Tracked Unfairness.”

Reliable legal representation is almost impossible to find. Appointments with lawyers at the Legal Services Commission clinic in Yarl’s Wood are at max 35 minutes long and often less. Many women come to AAWG & BWRAP with claims which have been refused without the evidence of rape, torture and persecution being considered. How much more is spent by the Home Office opposing asylum claims than is spent on legal aid by people trying to make a claim? Evidence of blatant hostility, racism and other discrimination by Home Office case workers is well documented.

2. “Detainees prolong their detention by appealing.” Women are increasingly denied the right to appeal in the UK or end up representing themselves leading to great injustice. Research has exposed Immigration Judges systematic hostility and discrimination (Misjudging Rape: Breaching Gender Guidelines & International Law in Asylum Appeals). In addition, when women win their claim, sometimes after years, the HOME OFFICE APPEALS! We are in touch with three women in Yarl’s Wood in this situation – one who has been in since June 2009 and won her case in October. She is in detention waiting for a hearing which is not till the end of March.

3. “Yarl’s Wood has free on-site primary healthcare provision and this reflects the level of care provided by NHS general practices.” Similar claims were made a few years back but a HM Inspector of Prisons report found: “weak clinical governance systems, inadequate staff training, insufficient mental health care . . . unresponsiveness of the IND to clinical concerns about an alleged history of torture or adverse medical consequences of continued detention.” (1) Complaints of brutal, unresponsive health care continue to flood in including women recently released from detention who spoke in the House of Commons

4. “Any claims that one detainee is on the verge of renal failure, or that others are suffering ill health as a result are false.” Please contact Dr Frank Arnold of Medical Justice for his statement confirming his examination of this woman and his findings.

5. “. . . a detainee claims she should have her case looked at because she is not a criminal and has a little girl. In fact she was previously convicted of a serious criminal offence and is subject to legal restrictions by the courts for access to one of her children.” Singling out one mother to discredit the hunger strikers shows the level of desperation at the Home Office. Ms A, who this refers to, had only been in the UK for seven weeks and was destitute when she was convicted of child neglect after her son was injured by one of the people she was dependent on for housing. She was severely depressed at the time but unable to get her medication – all of which the judge took into account when sentencing her. She served her sentence and is therefore entitled to say. She is not a criminal, she’s a distraught mother, traumatised by knowing how her children are suffering without her. She is now in danger of being deported and permanently separated from her children

Government and media hype about “dangerous foreign criminals” living in Britain has led to thousands of immigrant people, many of whom are convicted of minor offences of survival and poverty, being swept up in raids, detained and deported. Some hunger strikers were destitute when they were convicted of shoplifting or using fake documents to work, enrol in college, or open a bank account. Others were convicted of travelling on false documents when they came to the UK to escape persecution. Use of this offence to dismiss an asylum claim was condemned by Judge Sedley as a “serious invasion of judicial independence.” (2) Even drug convictions are almost always because of severe poverty or coercion, where mothers, who are in fear of their own and their children’s lives, or don’t know where their next meal is coming from, have agreed to carry or sell small amounts of drugs. All are people of colour and easy targets for an institutionally racist police force and court system.

6. A denial of “incidents of racial abuse and violence directed at detainees.” Complaints of racist abuse are in statements given to lawyers and are being pursued. There are too many and they are too consistent for there to be any serious doubt about their veracity. The report Outsourcing Abuse (3) documents almost 300 cases of alleged assault of detainees by immigration staff between 2004 and 2008. We look forward to the Independent Monitoring Board’s report and to Serco, the multi-national which runs Yarl’s Wood, responding to MPs request to providing unedited CCTV footage.

7. “The current misreporting, based on inaccurate and fabricated statements by those who campaign against our policy, is irresponsible as it causes unnecessary distress to the women at Yarl’s Wood.” We are in daily contact with hunger strikes and they have consistently pressed us to publicise their situation saying that media coverage is the best protection against retribution and further violence. Their hand written statements listing their complaints and demands were specifically done for the media. Some have expressed their fear of what would have happened if there had been no publicity.


“We the undersigned have been on hunger strike since the 5/02/10 to date.. At no particular point in time have we gone to eat in the dining room, got food from the vending machines or at the shop. We would also like to point out that Yarl’s Wood has a no food, no drink policy, this has always been the case therefore saying that “visitors bring us food” is untrue.“

Signed by 34 women.

Lawyers are launching a legal challenge on behalf of four women held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, claiming their incarceration amounts to “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment that breaches their human rights. What you can do to help-

1. Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 919 “Hunger Strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre” (see below). You might want to send them the update so they are armed against Home Office propaganda.

2. Write to ministers demanding: that mothers, victims of rape and other torture and all vulnerable women be immediately released; an independent investigation into the treatment of hunger strikers; a moratorium on all removals and deportations.

· Phil Woolas MP, the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration or

· Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Home Secretary or

· Meg Hillier MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Home Office

The Yarl’s Wood Five-

Denise McNeil from Jamaica
Aminata Camara from Guinea
Sheree Wilson from Jamaica
Shellyann Stupart from Jamaica
Gladys Obiyan from Nigeria

UK citizens cannot be remanded to prison, except they have been brought before a judge and the judge orders it so. Denise, Aminata, Sheree, Shellyann, and Gladys, have not and will not be brought before a judge, they have been remanded to prison on the whim of Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration.

The detained women are asking you to Email/fax/phone/write to: Rt. Hon Alan Johnson, MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office, requesting that Denise, Aminata, Sheree, Shellyann, and Gladys, are returned to Yarl’s Wood immediately or released into the community.

Model letter is below which you can copy/amend/write your own version, there are no Home Office reference numbers available as the women were moved from Yarl’s Wood, with out their belongings.

Please let the campaign know of faxes/emails sent:

Please keep sending Solidarity messages

Model letter-

Read the rest of this entry »

MI5 Cover Up Continues To Crumble

“[The record of security service officials] regrettably, but inevitably, must raise the question of whether any statement in the certificates on an issue concerning such treatment can be relied on … Not only is there an obvious reason for distrusting any UK government assurance based on SyS [security service] advice and information, because of previous ‘form’, but the Foreign Office and the SyS have an interest in the suppression of such information.”

Original unredacted judgement

Read the rest of this entry »