Thirteen years ago Shaker Aamer’s family was ripped apart
It has now been 13 years since Guantánamo Bay opened, and 6 years since Obama promised to close it.
On 22nd January 2009, President Obama ordered that Guantánamo Bay be closed. But 6 years later, 122 prisoners are still being held and abused there. Many are on hunger strike to protest their detention without charge or trial, and many have been cleared for release by the US government, yet they remain imprisoned.
Among them is Shaker Aamer, whose British wife and four children await his return in London. Shaker was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009, and the British government has repeatedly called for his return to the UK. But still the Americans won’t let him go.
“Thirteen years ago my family was ripped apart when my husband, Shaker Aamer, was sold for a bounty and taken to Guantánamo Bay. He has never been charged with a crime. He has never faced a trial. He was cleared for release – told he could come home, in other words – by President Bush’s administration. He was then cleared for release a second time, by President Obama’s administration.
We had such hope, when Mr Obama said he would close the prison – finally, we thought, our family’s ordeal will be over. It is hard to describe the crushing despair of having such hopes dashed.”
Zinneera, Shaker’s wife, in her letter to David Cameron
Together with Shaker’s family, we increased the pressure on David Cameron to make sure that he raised Shaker’s case with President Obama. Supporters from all over the world signed our Free Shaker Aamer petition.
After their meeting in Washington, DC, it was announced that the President would “prioritise” Shaker’s case, and that he “understands why this case is of great interest to the Prime Minister and the British people.”
If there is to be any justice, the UK and the US will bring Shaker home to London before my next visit with him in Guantánamo at the end of the month – and Obama must make good on his promise, and close the prison once and for all.
After 13 years, the biggest threat to Shaker and the other prisoners held in Guantánamo is that the world forgets. Thank you for standing with them.
Clive Stafford Smith
Shaker’s lawyer and Founder & Director of Reprieve