London march shows Shaker Aamer is 'not a forgotten man'

Ahead of a planned rally and march on Saturday 11 December through the London borough of Wandsworth organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign on behalf of Shaker Aamer, the Saudi-born Wandsworth resident who has been detained at Guantánamo Bay for nearly nine years, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This weekend’s march is yet another sign that people are determined that Shaker Aamer is not going to be left to languish a forgotten man at Guantánamo.

“There’s real strength of feeling about this. In less than three weeks 5,500 people have contacted their MPs about Shaker’s plight via www.amnesty.org.uk/shaker.

“It shows that people care about justice, care about human rights and care about getting Shaker a fair trial or securing his release back to his family in Britain.

“Ever since the shocking attacks of 9/11, Amnesty has said that where the authorities suspect someone of terrorism then that person should be charged and given a fair hearing - instead we’ve had Guantánamo, a total travesty of justice.

“Shaker has already had nine years of his life stolen from him, he says he’s been horribly tortured and he’s still sitting in a cell without any form of due process.

“The torture allegations must be properly investigated and the forthcoming inquiry into the possible involvement of UK officials in torture and illegal detention must examine Shaker Aamer’s case extremely carefully.”

Amnesty has recently written to William Hague calling on the Foreign Secretary and the US authorities to agree a timetable for Shaker Aamer to be either allowed a fair trial or for him to be released and returned to his family in the UK. Last month Mr Hague said he had raised the matter with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and that it was under consideration by the US.

With clear signs that the case is now receiving attention from senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, Amnesty activists are also lobbying the US official responsible for Guantánamo - Ambassador Daniel Fried, special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo Bay. He is being asked to expedite Aamer’s release and return to the UK if a fair trial is not forthcoming. Similar campaigning is taking place in the US, with Amnesty USA supporters writing to Mr Hague about Aamer.

Note to editors
Saturday’s rally and march for Shaker Aamer have been organised by the London-based Save Shaker Aamer Campaign as part of its “A Day For Shaker Aamer” event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154316317946877
 
Mr Aamer has been held without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay for nearly nine years (since February 2002). He is originally from Saudi Arabia but is married to a British citizen and has four British Children's rights. He had permission to live indefinitely in the UK when he was originally detained in Afghanistan by Afghan forces in the autumn of 2001; he was subsequently transferred to US custody in Afghanistan and later taken to Guantánamo.

In January 2009 President Barack Obama signed an executive order committing the US administration to resolving the cases of Guantánamo detainees “as promptly as possible”, and to closing the detention facility “no later than one year from the date of this order”. However as of 17 November 2010, 174 men remained detained, with the majority having been held without charge or trial for more than eight years.  

The Guantánamo Review Task Force established under President Obama’s executive order recommended in January 2010 that 36 detainees be prosecuted by the USA, either in federal court or in military commissions; that 48 others continue to be held without charge or trial; and that the remainder be transferred out of Guantánamo, to countries other than the USA, either immediately or eventually.  Some of those who could not be returned to their home countries have been offered a new home in third countries in Europe and elsewhere.   

The US administration continues to pursue trials by military commission in proceedings which do not meet international fair trial standards. Only one Guantánamo detainee has been transferred to the US mainland for trial in a civilian court.

More media information:

Amnesty International UK: Neil Durkin, 020 7033 1547, 07972 718826, neildurkin@amnesty.org.uk

Save Shaker Aamer Campaign: Ray Silk, 07756 493877, ssac.contact@gmail.com

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