Last UK resident in Guantanamo joins hunger strike

Shaker-300x288A British resident who has been held by the US without charge or trial for over eleven years has joined the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay.

Shaker Aamer (46) from South London, whose wife and four children are all British citizens, told his lawyer on 29 March that he had lost over 30 pounds since joining the strike.

Lawyers for the Guantanamo inmates estimate around ¾ of the 166 men still held there have joined the hunger strike, although the US military claims the number is lower.

In a legal declaration filed by his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Aamer also details how he has been subjected to sleep deprivation and violent procedures known as “Forcible Cell Extractions” while attempting to pray, in response to his hunger strike. These procedures are “excruciatingly painful,” particularly because of his long-term back injuries originally caused by mistreatment by the US in Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan.

Mr Aamer is protesting his ongoing detention, despite having long been cleared for release by the US authorities and never having been charged or tried with any crime during his eleven year ordeal.  Mr Aamer continues to be held despite British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s public calls for his release. Continue reading

Obama’s Guantanamo failure

10-year anniversary highlights Obama’s Guantanamo failure

EuroNews, 11/01/12

It has been 10 years since the first prisoners arrived at the Guantanamo detention centre in Cuba.

A total of 779 prisoners have passed through the naval base since it started holding prisoners suspected of having links to al-Qaeda after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. Today 171 detainees are still kept there.

According to Hina Shamsi, Director of the National Security Project at the ACLU, the milestone is nothing to celebrate: “On the 10-year anniversary of Guantanamo, it could not be more clear that the place is a catastrophic failure legally, ethically, morally, and in terms of our national security. It is a place that was a laboratory for torture and represents the principle of indefinite military detention without charge or trial by the United States. It is a failure of our democratic values and the time has come to close it.”

The US Congress has blocked the transfer of Guantanamo inmates to custody in other countries, making a mockery of President Barack Obama’s promise when he stated: “Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.” Continue reading