Return Shaker Aamer!
- [ACTION] Call For The Return of Shaker Aamer
The change of presidency in the US and the order to close Guantanamo by Barack Obama has provided an opportunity that many of those in the UK have sought for a long time the opportunity to bring home the remaining British residents still detained at the camp. Shaker Aamer is one of three men who can be released to the UK and with a British wife and four British children, his case for repatriation is all the more important. His wife and children, living in the UK, have now been waiting seven years for him to be released or charged with a crime. No charges have been brought, he has been cleared for release and yet this father of four remains in the detention camps.
Former Guantanamo guard Terry C Holdbrooks commented on Shaker,
"He's a wonderful character- unbelievably intelligent, very polite, very well-mannered, great etiquette no matter whom the guard was he was working with- whether it was a very ignorant uncaring American with no recognition for his situation He was a wonderful person- I absolutely enjoyed spending time with him."
Cageprisoners appeals to the public to write letters to the British government encouraging them to call for the immediate repatriation of Shaker.
Shaker Aamer is a long-term British resident, originally from Saudi Arabia, who has spent close to seven years in Guantánamo without charge or trial. Shaker had been in the UK since the early 90s where he worked as a translator at a legal firm and eventually met his wife. In the summer of 2001, Shaker began looking for a suitable Muslim country where he might bring some social benefit to people less fortunate than himself. Ever the keen community worker, Shaker visited Afghanistan in June 2001 with his wife and three children to undertake voluntary work. During his stay he shared a Kabul house with Moazzam Begg the British detainee who was released from Guantánamo Bay in early 2005 and worked with him on projects to support a girls' school and of building wells.
Shortly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Shaker it is believed, like hundreds of others, was sold for a bounty of $5000 by tribal warlords eager to receive the lucrative rewards offered for foreign Muslims by the US military.
As a captive, Shaker suffered particularly vicious torture in the Dark Prison in Kabul. When he arrived in Guantánamo Bay, he became a respected spokesman for the prisoners and was dubbed `The Professor' by the US military. During the prison-wide hunger strike in July 2005, he became a leader on the prisoners' council and successfully negotiated a settlement with the military before any of the prisoners died. The authorities agreed to respect the Geneva Conventions and treat prisoners who have been neither charged nor convicted of any crime in a humane manner. However, the administration reneged on their promise shortly after and Shaker was returned to isolation and was forcibly made to ingest liquid food with tubes through his nostrils.
Like most of the Guantanamo detainees Shaker is accused of nebulous `links' to al-Qaida without any evidence being presented against him. He has not even been designated for trial by the courts known as `military commissions' described by leading jurists as a 'mockery of justice' that derives `from the jumps of the kangaroo' and it is widely believed that he only remains in custody due to his vociferous advocacy for prisoners' rights in Guantánamo. As a result, Shaker has spent much of his time in solitary confinement in Camp Echo, a facility that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described as `extremely harsh'.
Shaker's wife and children are all born and bred British Citizens. Shaker has never seen his youngest child who is nearly eight years old. The complete isolation has taken a severe toll on Shaker's mental health and placed incredible strain on his family. Letters from him have not been received since 2006 when he noted:
"I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for many years I have problems many problems from the filthy yellow water I have lung problems from the chemicals they spread all over the floor I am already arthritic at 40 because I sleep on a steel bed, and they use freezing air conditioning as part of the interrogation process. I have ruined eyes from the permanent, 24-hour fluorescent lights. I have tinnitus in my ears from the perpetual noise I have ulcers and almost permanent constipation from the food. I have been made paranoid, so I can trust nobody, not even my lawyer. I was over 250 lbs. I dropped to 130lbs in the hunger strike. I want to make it easy on everyone, I want no feeding, no forced tubes, no `help', no `intensive assisted feeding.'"
On August 7, 2007 the United Kingdom government requested the release of Shaker Aamer and four other men who had been legal British residents without being British citizens, since they had been granted leave to remain in the UK prior to their incarceration. Three of those men have been released; the other is Binyam Mohammed. But nothing has happened in Shaker's case since. The latest information on Shaker in Guantanamo is that he is in a tiny glass cell and has just come off a hunger-strike. He is believed to have lost almost half his body weight as a result. Although US president Obama has ordered the closure of the Guantanamo prison there is no guarantee that Shaker Aamer will be sent home to his family. It is time that the US authorities released him and let him rejoin them.
Take action for Shaker Aamer
Write to the UK authorities:
· Demand that the government takes immediate action and makes representations at the highest levels to secure Shaker's release from Guantanamo.
· Urge the government to consider the British citizenship of Shaker's family in assessing representations in his case.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AG
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband
King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AA
Also we encourage you to write to your MP regarding Shaker's case.
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband
King Charles Street,
London SW1A 2AA
Dear Mr Miliband,
I write to you to express grave concern with regards to the plight of British resident Shaker Aamer. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Aamer came to Britain safe in the knowledge- shared by many immigrants- that the laws and opportunities of the land would not be withheld from him as a result of his ethnicity. True to his expectations, he gained work as a translator in the early 90's, and settled down, marrying his British wife and fathering his children. He has now been held in Guantanamo without charge for over seven years, an unknown stranger to his youngest child.
A devout Muslim and keen believer in helping those less fortunate than himself, Shaker visited Afghanistan with his family in June 2001 to assist in the managing of a girls' school, also participating in the digging of wells to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan population. With the attacks on 9/11, the "War on Terror" began and Aamer was amongst those sold into US captivity by the warlords eager to receive the promised bounty placed on the head of every foreigner. Incarcerated in the Dark Prison of Kabul, Aamer was subject to torture and abuse before being rendered to Guantanamo Bay.
Far from the distorted views circulated against him, Aamer was noted amongst the guards at the facility for his intelligence and politeness. He was crucial in liaising between other prisoners and the authorities in ending a hunger strike, in return for a promise for treatment to be in line with the Geneva Conventions. Unfortunately, the authorities reneged on their side of the agreement, and Aamer was sent to the isolation cells in Camp Echo, where he is subject to force-feeding. In his most recent correspondence in 2006, he shared the realities of his condition: arthritis from the cold steel bed he is forced to sleep on, eyes strained and weary from perpetual bright lighting, and ulcers from the poor diet. His treatment has reduced him to a shadow of his former mental and physical self, having lost over half his body weight and meeting his own lawyer with paranoia. And he will inevitably deteriorate if nothing is done to alleviate his situation.
That is why I write to you, Mr Miliband, knowing that it is your responsibility as foreign secretary to press the American government for the release of Shaker Aamer. Though he has been held without charge and his family are British citizens, the government's response has not yet been sufficient to see his repatriation. However, I know that your predecessor had made efforts to secure his release, and I hope that your desire to see justice implemented will see this positive trend gain in pace and prominence under your term
* Nationality: Saudi
* Residence: Britain
* Marital Status: Married
* Date of Arrest: 1/15/2002
* Location of Arrest: Captured in Jalalabad hospital and taken to Guantanamo Bay. Sustained injuries.
Shakers father in lawshaker-1.jpg
"The youngest he doesn't even know who his Daddy is because he has never seen him or spoken to him until this day" Mrs Z. Aamer
Shaker Aamer has a home in Battersea with his British wife and four British children, the youngest of whom he has never seen. His application for British citizenship was in progress when he was seized in Afghanistan and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. He has been threatened with rendition to Egypt. If the British Government denies him the rights to return to this country, his wife will be without a husband and his young family without their father.
Shaker grew up in Medina, in Saudi Arabia. He left home when he turned 17, and went to America. He spent a happy year in Maryland, before returning to Saudi Arabia. Then he travelled in Europe and the Middle East, before moving to London where he met his wife Zinnira Siddique, and started a family. Zinnira said she married Shaker because she saw the kindness in his heart, and he made her laugh. "He is so funny. If he was here now, he would make you laugh." Shaker was a hands-on dad, changing nappies without complaint and entertaining the baby. Michael was born in 1999, and Saif a year later. Shaker always told Zinnira that he wanted 12 children, but he has never set eyes on his 4th child, as Faris was born after 2002, after Shaker had been seized by the US Military.
Shaker worked as an Arabic translator for the solicitor who advised him on his immigration case. People always approached him for advice about their problems, and translating for refugees put Shaker where he loved to be in the role of counsel, listening and advising. He needed more work to support his expanding family, but he was hampered by his immigration status. Until he had British nationality, it would be hard. Shaker dreamed of starting his own business selling clothes. He travelled to the Middle East, collecting samples of material. Shaker and Zinnira wanted to find a perfect home for their family, and better opportunities for Shaker, while his status in Britain was resolved. They decided to look in a Muslim country. They made trips to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and, in June 2000, Shaker visited Afghanistan to do voluntary work for an Islamic charity. He stayed in Kabul, sharing a house with Moazzam Begg, the British detainee released from Guantanamo in January 2005. Soon after he arrived in Afghanistan the country was pitched into war in the wake of 9/11. When the bombing in Kabul began, Shaker moved to Jalalabad and, fearing he would be taken prisoner by the Northern Alliance, went into hiding with an Afghani family. Soldiers arrived and seized him at gunpoint. He was sold, first to the Northern Alliance, and then to a group in Kabul. He was taken to somewhere outside Kabul in the middle of the night. A helicopter arrived, and when he heard the sound of American accents, he was filled with relief. But he had been sold yet again, this time to the U. S.
Shaker was taken to the Dark Prison in Kabul where he suffered such torture that he cannot talk about it. Then he was taken to Bagram Airforce Base where he was forced to stay awake for 9 days without food. Next he was taken to Kandahar where he suffered yet more cruelty. "They were jumping up and down on me in their boots, on my back and head. Yelling about my religion, my family and my race. A soldier took the holy Qu'ran and threw it in the shit bucket on the floor."
When Shaker arrived in Guantanamo, he was assured he would never leave. "You've come to your end. You will not be going anywhere from here." Shaker says he was thrown to the ground, beaten and stripped naked, and that the soldiers stuck their fingers up his anus. When he was eventually given his prison uniform, they gave him clothes many sizes too small. It was the beginning of a ritual of humiliation and abuse that has lasted without respite for nearly 4 years.
Because he is well-educated and acts as a translator for the other prisoner, the U. S. Military named him "The Professor". They think because of the status that is bestowed on him he must be a major leader among the prisoners. Because of this, Shaker was kept in isolation for a year. He had no window and only an opening for the air-conditioning. He was often kept in freezing conditions in nothing but shorts. His frame wasted from lack of food, and he was denied a tooth-brush for 8 months.
Shaker has been treated brutally during interrogations. In the interrogation room, Shaker is tied up on the floor for hours before the interrogation begins. Frozen by the air conditioning, he is not allowed to use the toilet and defecates himself.
Despite all the attempts to break his humanity, Shaker remains the kind and supportive man Zinnira remembers. He looks out for his fellow detainees, acting as "next friend" for those without a lawyer.
Zinnira and her 4 children have been waiting 4 years for their husband and father to return home. "Whenever Shaker travelled before he would always come home quickly because he missed his family. He is taking a long time this time." Zinnira received sporadic letters from Shaker until June 2003. She has heard nothing from him in over 2 years. Shaker has written his wife a 20 page letter, but his lawyer is not allowed to deliver it. The children do not know where their father has gone. Zinnira says, "My children are very sensitive, so I have told them he has gone abroad to study. I think they would take it very badly if they knew the truth."
The absence of her husband has taken an immense toll on Zinnira's health and she has spent some time in hospital. She would wander the corridors knocking on doors. When the person came out asking why she was knocking on the door she said "I am looking for my husband."
Whilst the British Government is refusing to make representations on his behalf, Shaker is on hunger strike. In a recently declassified statement, Shaker wrote:
"I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for many years I have problems many problems from the filthy yellow water I have lung problems from the chemicals they spread all over the floor I am already arthritic at 40 because I sleep on a steel bed, and they use freezing air conditioning as part of the interrogation process. I have ruined eyes from the permanent, 24-hour fluorescent lights. I have tinnitus in my ears from the perpetual noise I have ulcers and almost permanent constipation from the food. I have been made paranoid, so I can trust nobody, not even my lawyer. I was over 250 lbs. I dropped to 130lbs in the hunger strike. I want to make it easy on everyone, I want no feeding, no forced tubes, no `help', no `intensive assisted feeding.' This is my legal right."NOTE!
Everyone who was actively following Shaker's case were overjoyed when we heard that he was to be released along with four other detainees. At the very last moment, this article came out and blew a hole in everyone's hopes, especially his familys
US refuses UK request for Guantánamo release
Thursday December 13, 2007
Details of a disagreement between the UK and US governments over the security threat posed by two British residents being held in the Guantánamo Bay prison camp emerged today.
The foreign secretary, David Miliband, said in a statement that Saudi national Shaker Aamer would not be released because the US government had "expressed significant additional security concerns" and had rejected the foreign office's request.
News of the refusal contradicted reports last Thursday that Aamer would be one of four British residents who would be released imminently from the camp, albeit to his home country of Saudi Arabia.
Shaker Aamer - Still Held in Isolation
Held in isolation
Shaker Aamer is a long-term British resident who was abducted in Pakistan and sold to US forces for $5,000. He had already applied for British nationality at the time of his abduction.
Shaker and his British wife Zennira have four British children, aged between five and nine, the youngest of whom Shaker has never seen. Even though his family lives in London, the British Government refuses to accept any legal or moral responsibility for his plight.
Shaker suffered particularly vicious torture in the Dark Prison in Kabul. When he arrived in Guantánamo Bay, he became a respected spokesman for the prisoners and was dubbed `The Professor' by the US military. During the prison-wide hunger strike in July 2005, he became a leader on the prisoners' council and successfully negotiated a settlement with the military before any of the prisoners died. The authorities agreed to respect the Geneva Conventions and treat prisoners who have been neither charged nor convicted of any crime in a humane manner.
Unfortunately, the authorities reneged on the agreement, and when the hunger strike began again on 11 August 2005, Shaker was locked up in solitary confinement in Camp Echo, a facility that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described as `extremely harsh'.
The complete isolation has taken a severe toll on his mental health and placed incredible strain on his family.
To date, the British government has declined to intervene on Shaker's behalf.
Shaker is represented by Reprieve's Legal Director, Clive Stafford Smith, and by Reprieve's Senior Counsel, Zachary Katznelson.
Letters to Shaker should be sent to:
US Naval Base Guantánamo Bay
Washington, DC 20355
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