By Andy Worthington, November 21, 2014
On Monday Nov, 24, a new campaign, We Stand With Shaker, will be launched in London, calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, and his return to his family in the U.K. Shaker has twice been approved for release by the U.S. authorities -- under President Bush in 2007 and under President Obama in 2009 -- and the British government has been calling for his return since 2007, and yet, inexplicably, he is still held.
The launch takes place from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament, and will be attended by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington), Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion), comedian Jeremy Hardy, Andy Worthington, the director of the campaign, and others tbc. Those attending will be standing with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, designed to represent how he is the "elephant in the room" when it comes to Britain's dealings with the U.S.
If you're in London, or anywhere near, and want to bring an end to Shaker's 13 unjustifiable years of imprisonment without charge or trial, please come along, in an orange jumpsuit if possible, and with a sign saying "I Stand With Shaker" to show your support, but if you don't have any of these, or can't get hold of them, don't worry; please come along anyway and show your support. You will be warmly welcomed.
As well as those attending the launch, dozens of other lawyers, politicians, journalists, actors and comedians have already declared their support for the campaign by standing with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker, and photos will be released and circulated via social media once the campaign is launched officially on Monday. Celebrities and other well-known people in their fields who also want to show their support are invited to get in touch to Stand With Shaker.
Another key component of the campaign consists of photos of supporters standing with placards that read, "I Stand With Shaker" -- or a more personalized message, if you like -- which can be sent to us to be featured on the campaign website (launching on Monday) or on social media -- our Facebook page is here, and our Twitter page is here.
Also on November 24, when the campaign launches, we will be releasing a promotional video, of Andy Worthington's band The Four Fathers performing 'Song for Shaker Aamer', a song he wrote for the campaign, and the day after the launch, on November 25 at 7pm in Committee Room 9 in the House of Commons, there will be a Parliamentary meeting, calling for Shaker's release, organized by John McDonnell MP and supported by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, with speakers including Andy Worthington, solicitor Louise Christian and Shaykh Sulaiman Ghani the imam of Tooting Islamic Centre.
November 24, 2014 marks the 13th anniversary of the capture of Shaker Aamer, by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, where he had traveled with his family to provide humanitarian aid. He arrived in Guantánamo on February 14, 2002, the day his youngest son was born.
The reasons for Mr. Aamer's ongoing imprisonment have never been adequately explained, but an independent medical expert recently confirmed that he has serious physical ailments and mental health issues as a result of his long imprisonment without charge or trial.
Any further delay is unacceptable, especially as, yesterday, five Guantánamo prisoners cleared for release (from Yemen and Tunisia) were given new homes in Georgia and Slovakia, while Shaker Aamer, who could easily be returned to the U.K., is still held.
The 'We Stand With Shaker' campaign is encouraging celebrities and members of the public worldwide to take part in our photo campaign, to educate the public about Mr. Aamer's plight, and to put pressure on the British government to demand his immediate release, and the U.S. government to free him to resume his life in the U.K.
For further information, please contact: Joanne MacInnes, campaign co-ordinator, on: +44 (0)7867 553580 or Andy Worthington, campaign director, by email.
Note: 'We Stand With Shaker' has the support of Reprieve, and other organizations including the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Close Guantánamo, the London Guantánamo Campaign, Witness Against Torture, World Can't Wait and Code Pink.