Parliament must debate return of hunger-striking Shaker Aamer to UK

April 12, 2013

A government e-petition calling for the return to the UK of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo, has now reached over 100,000 signatures meaning it must be considered for parliamentary debate.

Hosted by Shaker’s father-in law, Mr Saeed Siddiqui, the petition calls on the British government to ‘achieve the immediate transfer of Shaker Aamer to the UK from continuing indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay.’

Reprieve recently revealed that Shaker has now joined the wide-spread hunger strike at the prison. On April 11th Shaker spoke with his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, and described the treatment to which he has been subjected since deciding to strike. He said that “They are killing us, so it is hard to keep calm…in reality I am dying inside.” On the call, Shaker said that he has had almost no water for 24 hours as the guards would not bring him water.

He described how he has been ‘FCE’d’ – subjected to brutal Forcible Cell Extractions – continuously. “I have bruises on my legs, knee, my arms where they carry me.” After one such raid he reported that “they took everything…even my kids’ drawings. They ripped them off the wall.” Shaker went on to say that ‘Code Yellows’ (when a prisoner collapses or passes out) are now happening 10 to 15 times a day. “They step on your fingers, your hands, they scratch you…Yesterday they tied me on the board and they threw me in a cell because the medical people were busy.”

Lawyers for the men estimate that of the 166 still indefinitely detained, almost all are now on hunger strike, prompted largely by the fact that while 86 were cleared for release years ago, efforts by the Obama administration to affect their transfer have stopped. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, recently released a statement calling on the US to close Guantanamo Bay, saying that its existence remains “a clear breach of international law”.

Yesterday Reprieve joined 25 international Human Rights NGOs in signing an open letter telling Obama to close the prison, warning that ‘irreversible cognitive impairment and physiological damage may begin to occur by the fortieth day of a hunger strike, after which the possibility of death becomes an imminent risk.’

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, said: “The ongoing detention without charge or trial of these men is an affront to justice. Shaker has a wife and four British kids – one of whom he’s never met – in London. The UK seems to just accept routine assurances from the US that all is well, when in fact all is rotten in Guantanamo Bay. Why does the UK take the position that there is nothing more that can be done when a close ally is committing the on-going torture of Shaker Aamer?”

ENDS

. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8161 / +44 7739 188 097 or clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk

2. The full affidavit from Clive Stafford Smith’s April 11 call with Shaker Aamer is available for download.