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Happy 8TH Birthday Guantánamo?!

London Guantánamo Campaign | 11.01.2010 08:37 | Guantánamo | Repression | Terror War | World

A round up of news and events happening today in the UK to mark the eighth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay...why is it still open?!

Eight years of Guantánamo Bay:

- LGC press release: demonstration on eighth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay – Monday 11 January, 12.30pm, outside US Embassy, London

- Send a ‘birthday’ greeting to the Foreign Office/ your MP

- Cageprisoners: actions for Shaker Aamer: letter delivery to Downing Street: 2pm and Parliamentary Meeting: 4-6pm

- EDM 547: Release of Shaker Aamer, Last British Resident in Guantánamo

- Reprieve/ Amnesty International/ CCR press release: European states must take concrete steps to help close Guantánamo

- Tuesday 12 January: Radio 4 programme: Closing Guantánamo, ‏8pm

LGC Press Release: London Guantánamo Campaign to hold demonstration on eighth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay – Monday 11 January, 12.30pm, outside US Embassy, London

The London Guantánamo Campaign will hold a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London, W1A 1AE, at 12.30-2pm on Monday 11 January 2010, to mark the eighth anniversary of the opening of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp on 11 January 2002.

The demonstration will call on the US administration to close down the Guantánamo Bay detention camp as soon as possible and ensure justice for all the prisoners held there.

At 12.30pm, bound demonstrators in orange jumpsuits and black hoods will hold a vigil outside the US Embassy calling for liberty and justice.

Speeches will be given between 1 and 2pm. Speakers include: Jean Lambert (Green MEP), Lindsey German (Stop The War Coalition), Chloe Davies (Reprieve), Andy Worthington (journalist), Yvonne Ridley (journalist), Joy Hurcombe (Brighton Against Guantánamo), John Clossick (Save Shaker Aamer Campaign), Nicki Jameson (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!) and Maria Gallestegui (Peace Strike).


The London Guantánamo Campaign calls on the American administration to close down the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay as soon as possible. The administration will inevitably miss the 22 January deadline it set itself almost a year ago but must not use this failure as an excuse to delay further. The transfer of prisoners to other similar facilities on the US mainland or elsewhere is not a viable solution; it merely extends the eight-year regime of arbitrary detention without charge or trial.

The US administration must ensure justice for prisoners, by either charging those it can lawfully bring charges against or releasing them. The vast majority of prisoners do not and have never faced charges. Prisoners must be sent to countries where their safety and liberty will be guaranteed.

The US must also close down other illegal prisons around the world, such as the currently-expanding Bagram Air Base and end its practice of extraordinary rendition, involving the kidnap and torture of alleged suspects.

We call on the British government to play its part in the closure of Guantánamo Bay by stepping up its efforts at the highest levels to ensure the return of British resident Shaker Aamer to the UK. The UK sought his release in August 2007 along with that of four other men who have since returned. Mr. Aamer has a British family, including a seven year old son he has never met. He has never been charged. The UK must also seek the release of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Belbacha, who lived in Bournemouth, on humanitarian grounds.

Aisha Maniar, from the London Guantánamo Campaign, says, “Over the past year, Obama’s administration has wasted opportunities to close Guantánamo Bay and break with the legacy of his predecessor, choosing instead to perpetuate the regime of arbitrary detention, torture and lawlessness. Although some positive actions have been taken, the failure to align US policy with recognised international law norms is unfortunate. In the past eight years, the existence of Guantánamo Bay and other similar illegal prisons has not made the world a safer place. The US must ensure justice and due process for all prisoners and freedom for the innocent”.


The London Guantánamo Campaign campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.

There are currently just under 200 prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, including two British residents. Approximately 50 prisoners are due for release once suitable countries are found to accommodate them. Around two dozen prisoners are likely to face trial in the US mainland. Concerns have been expressed as to the likelihood of any prisoners receiving a fair trial after eight years of arbitrary detention and the likelihood of much of the evidence being tainted by torture and other illegal methods of obtaining it.



Send a ‘birthday’ greeting to the Foreign Office/ your MP

On the eighth birthday of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, please send e-mails to the Foreign Office ( and your own MP (to find out who that is, visit and type in your postcode) asking them to step up their action to help Guantánamo Bay close down and seek the immediate return of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha.

Model letters are attached that you can copy, paste and send.


A letter will be delivered by Shaker Aamer’s daughter to Downing Street calling for the prompt release of Shaker Aamer at 2pm: delivering the letter will be: Johina Aamer (Shaker’s daughter), Victoria Brittain (Author and Journalist), Kate Allen (Amnesty), Kate Hudson (CND), Baroness Helena Kennedy, Vanessa Redgrave (Actress and Activist), Gareth Peirce (Shaker Aamer's British Lawyer), Caroline Lucas (Head of the Green Party)

Parliamentary meeting for Shaker Aamer (all are welcome): 4-6pm: Jubilee Room (House of Commons, St. Stephen’s Gate entrance). Speakers: Vanessa Redgrave, Kate Allen (Amnesty International), Brent Mickum (Shaker Aamer's American Lawyer), Gareth Peirce (Shaker Aamer's British Lawyer), Martin Linton (Shaker Aamer MP), Saeed Siddiqe (Shaker Aamer's father in law), Moazzam Begg (Director of Cageprisoners), Binyam Mohammed (Former Guantanamo Bay Detainee)

For more details on these actions, please contact Cageprisoners: or 0207 953 4074.

EDM 547: Release of Shaker Aamer, Last British Resident in Guantánamo:

Martin Linton MP (Lab: Battersea) has put together the following Early Day Motion calling for Shaker Aamer’s release. Please write to your MP to ask them to sign the EDM. This is a good way of making them aware of his plight and showing their support for his release and the closure of Guantánamo Bay. If your MP has already signed, please e-mail them to thank them for doing so.

That this House welcomes President Obama's commitment to close Guantánamo and his appeal to European countries to take in released detainees; supports the representations by the Government for the release and return of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo; notes that Mr Aamer has been detained for nearly eight years without trial or charge; further notes that he was a UK resident before his detention and that his wife and children have always lived in this country; and urges the Government to make renewed representations to the US to secure his release and return to this country.

Reprieve/Amnesty International/ Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release:

European states must take concrete steps to help close Guantánamo

Leading human rights organizations today urged more European states to accept detainees held at the US detention centre at Guantánamo who cannot be returned to their countries of origin for fear of torture or other human rights violations.

On the eighth anniversary of the first transfers to Guantánamo, the organisations urged other countries, including Germany, Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg to do more to aid the transfer of roughly 50 such men who remain trapped after years of unlawful detention.

“Although several countries have already led the way, it is disappointing that only a few European governments have stepped forward to help those in need of protection,” said Sharon Critoph, Campaigner on the US at Amnesty International. “Amongst those governments which have failed to assist are those previously most vocal in calling for Guantánamo to be closed.”

Reprieve, the Center for Constitutional Rights and former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg Director of the organization Cage Prisoners are today beginning a tour across Europe urging more states to offer the men a safe haven. The tour will be hosted by Amnesty International’s national sections.

These men remain detained for the sole reason that they have no safe place to go. They have been essentially been abandoned at Guantánamo. The plight of these men poses one of the most significant obstacles to the closure of the detention centre.

A number of European states have already taken the commendable step of offering a safe haven to such detainees, in line with the stated aims of the EU-US joint agreement on the closure of Guantánamo. These include France, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary and Belgium. On this important anniversary, human rights groups are urging others to follow suit.

The men come from countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Syria, China and Russia, where they will be at serious risk of torture or other human rights violations if returned.

The US government has been seeking safe countries willing to offer these men an opportunity to rebuild their lives and is primarily responsible for finding solutions for all those held at Guantánamo.

The international community which has repeatedly called for the detention centre’s closure can however help in realizing this aim by offering a safe haven to some of these men.

Guantánamo remains a stark symbol of injustice. Human rights groups have expressed concern that the detention facility will remain open past 22 January 2010, the date by which US President Barack Obama had pledged to close it. Unless more European countries step forward now to help, some of the most vulnerable detainees remain at serious risk of forcible return to abuse.

''The last decade saw the erosion of the rule of law and international respect for human rights. Guantánamo stands for all that went wrong and it must now be closed’’ said Sophie Weller of the Center for Constitutional Rights..‘‘ The men who remain detained because they lack a safe haven continue, every day to pay the human price for delay and inaction in achieving this aim.”

“Many European governments have condemned the ongoing detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Now they can do something about it,” said Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve. “Actions really do speak louder than words in this case; it’s time to turn the rhetoric into reality and get Guantánamo closed as soon as possible.”

Background information

The human rights organisations welcomed the actions of those countries which have already come forward to assist – such as France, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary - but expressed disappointment that others had not taken concrete steps in line with the EU-US Joint Statement on the Closure of Guantánamo Bay. The statement, issued on 16 June 2009, expressed the readiness of certain EU Member States to assist with the reception of former detainees on a case-by-case basis.

Nearly seven months since this statement was issued, only seven former detainees have been welcomed into Europe as free men. A further ten have been sent to Palau and Bermuda, and two have been transferred to Italy for possible trial. Approximately 50 more still need protection.

The tour will include visits to a number of European countries - including Luxembourg, Sweden and Germany - which could provide safe and appropriate reception for detainees from Guantánamo, giving them the chance to rebuild their lives.

The organizations will also be calling on government officials in countries which have already accepted detainees to share expertise, encouragement and examples of good practice with their counterparts in countries which may be considering following suit.

There are 198 prisoners in total still held in Guantánamo.

About Reprieve

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 32 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

About CCR

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for the last eight years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantánamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 50 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.

About Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. The organization has more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and carried out work for justice on a wide range of issues.

Amnesty International members across the world have been campaigning for the closure of Guantánamo and the end to human rights abuses committed in the context of counter-terrorism operations.


Amnesty International

Josefina Salomón, T:+44 207 413 5562, M:+44 7778 472 116,


Katherine O'Shea, T: +44 207 427 1099, M:+44 7931 592 674,

Centre for Constitutional Rights

Sophie Weller, T: +44 207 421 1807, M:+44 794 638 2897, E:


Tuesday 12 January: Radio 4: 8pm (92-9FM)

Closing Guantánamo:

President Obama has admitted that the process of closing the controversial prison camp in Guantanamo Bay will take longer than the 12 months he promised in his first major announcement as president. Jon Manel reveals the inside story of what went wrong.

11 January 2010

London Guantánamo Campaign


London Guantánamo Campaign
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