By Andy Worthington, February 7, 2015
Please print the Valentine's Card for Shaker Aamer, and send it to the U.S. Ambassador at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH, U.K.
February 14, Valentine's Day, is the 13th anniversary of the arrival at Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison -- and also the birthday of his youngest son, Faris, who he has never seen. Although Shaker was first told eight years ago, under George W. Bush, that the U.S. no longer wanted to hold him, and was again told that the U.S. no longer wanted to hold him five years ago -- by President Obama's high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force -- he is still held.
Since launching the We Stand With Shaker campaign two and half months ago, Joanne MacInnes and I (the co-directors of the campaign) have secured significant support from within the British establishment for Shaker's release -- from the Daily Mail, from the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator Peter Oborne, and from Conservative MPs including Alistair Burt and Andrew Mitchell, as well as from other Conservative MPs and other politicians from across the political spectrum -- Labour, Lib Dem, Green and independents.
These supporters have stood with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer that is at the heart of the campaign -- as have celebrities including actors, musicians, writers and comedians. All these supporters -- over 50 to date -- can be seen standing with Shaker on our website here, and they can also be found on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, where other supporters are also featured, holding signs showing their support for Shaker.
To mark the occasion of the 13th anniversary of Shaker's arrival at Guantánamo, and Faris's 13th birthday -- as well as keeping pressure on those holding Shaker -- we will be delivering a giant Valentine's card, signed by our celebrities, to the U.S. Ambassador, Matthew W. Barzun, which states, "We the undersigned urge you to ask President Obama to secure the immediate release from Guantánamo of British resident Shaker Aamer. Please tell the president we want Shaker returned to his loved ones in London NOW."
Via our designer Kalina Norton/Studio Kalinka, we have made a version of the Valentine's card that you can print and sign and send to Ambassador Barzun, from anywhere in the world, and we hope you do so in significant numbers. Please do take part, and encourage others to do so.
We intend to deliver the giant Valentine's card to the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square on Friday February 13, and on Valentine's Day itself (Saturday February 14), we will be in Parliament Square at 12 noon, and we will then march to 10 Downing Street with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign to deliver a message of solidarity with Shaker to David Cameron, and to urge him to call for Shaker's immediate return to the U.K. and his family more vigorously than he has to date.
It is, to be blunt, sickening that Shaker is still held, even though David Cameron recently met President Obama in the U.S., and both men spoke about his case. The time for words that do nothing is over. David Cameron must tell President Obama that he needs Shaker to be returned to the U.K., and President Obama must notify Congress of his intention to do so, providing 30 days' notice as required by U.S. law. Once that is done, there is no practical reason why Shaker cannot be home in a month's time.
That address again:
Matthew W. Barzun
Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
24 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 6AH
You can also phone and leave a message: 020 7499 9000 in the U.K., or 01144 20 7499 9000 from the U.S.