The "Close Guantánamo" campaign is delighted to be sponsoring two two petitions designed to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison -- an e-petition on the British government's website, and a U.S. and international petition on the influential Care 2 Petition Site.
Shaker Aamer, who has a British wife and four British children, was seized by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, where he had traveled with his family to undertake humanitarian aid in 2001, and was then sold to U.S. forces. He arrived at Guantánamo on February 14, 2002, on the same day that his youngest son was born, and he continues to be held, even though the Bush administration cleared him for release in 2007, and President Obama's Guantánamo Review Task Force cleared him for release in 2009, and even though successive British governments have been asking for him to be returned to the U.K. since August 2007.
Shaker's continued detention is, therefore, thoroughly unacceptable, and no excuses can be made by either the Obama administration or the coalition government in the U.K. to justify his continued detention. As a result, campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic -- and around the world -- are encouraged to call for his release through these two petitions.
The first, which has been promoted here on "Close Guantánamo" for the last few weeks (via a link on the right-hand column of the site), is an e-petition to the British government, entitled, "Return Shaker Aamer to the U.K.," which calls on the government -- and, specifically, the Foreign Office and the foreign secretary William Hague -- to "undertake urgent new initiatives to achieve the immediate transfer of Shaker Aamer to the U.K. from continuing indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay."
This needs to secure 100,000 signatures by May 14 to trigger a Parliamentary debate, and, to promote this campaign, "Close Guantánamo" commissioned the designer Josh King-Farlow, who also designed the "Close Guantánamo" website, to produce the design for a promotional leaflet available above, which is currently being printed in bulk for distribution by committed volunteers in universities and colleges, in mosques and churches, and at protests and other gatherings. Please feel free to use this image as you wish, on your website or on Facebook, to encourage people to sign -- and please note that a short URL (www.freeshaker.com) has been created that is easy to remember and to tell other people.
The U.K. campaign, which is also supported by Reprieve, Cageprisoners, the London Guantánamo Campaign and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, needs volunteers to spread the word, so please contact the organizers (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to volunteer to distribute leaflets and to secure signatures, for which paper copies of the petition are available.
The e-petition is for U.K. citizens and residents only (although it should be noted that there are no age restrictions, so children can sign it as well as adults). However, Shaker's case is also of interest to U.S. citizens and to other concerned individuals around the world, and, as a result, "Close Guantánamo" has also been involved in establishing an international petition, on the Care 2 Petition Site, which can be signed by anyone anywhere in the world (including the UK) -- and a link to this has just been inserted in the right-hand column of this site, below the link to the U.K. e-petition.
This petition is aiming to secure 10,000 signatures, and will be delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the British foreign secretary William Hague.
Please publicize this petition widely, and, if you wish, use the promotional image, also designed by Josh King-Farlow for "Close Guantánamo," to encourage people to sign. This can be added to your website, or used on your Facebook page, or printed and made available on leaflets or posters -- and please note that another short URL (www.tinyurl.com/shakeraamer) has also been created for this petition, which, again, is easy to remember and to tell other people.
We are particularly happy to promote both of these petitions, because Shaker's case is not only significant in the U.K., but also in the U.S. and internationally, as he is, we believe, the best candidate for release from the prison, able to break a deadlock which, for the last 14 months, has prevented the release of a single prisoner from Guantánamo.
This deadlock came about because of severe restrictions on releasing prisoners that were imposed by Congress, making security demands that were impossible for the administration to meet, and although these restrictions still exist in the latest legislation involving Guantánamo (the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama on December 31), the new legislation also contains a waiver, allowing the administration to bypass the Congressional restrictions if they regard it as being safe and in the interests of national security.
Help us persuade President Obama that releasing Shaker Aamer is the best way to break the deadlock at Guantánamo, and to show the world that he is no longer prepared to tolerate a situation in which, although his own Guantánamo Review Task Force recommended that 89 of the remaining 171 prisoners in Guantanamo should not be tried or held indefinitely, they are all still held.
And help us also persuade the British government that the Prime Minister and the foreign secretary must insist on Shaker Aamer's release, and that no more excuses are acceptable.