Hunger Strike for Shaker Aamer

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Frankie Boyle

Frankie Boyle is in his fourth day of hunger strike in support of the final UK resident stuck in Guantanamo Bay. He is one of many fasting as part of the charity Reprieve’s attempts to highlight the case of Mr Shaker Aamer who has not been charged with any offence and has been cleared for release. So why is he still in there and why is Guantanamo still open anyway.

Ordinarily with these types of stories you look to the government to do something to help this UK citizen – but they already are and even his lawyer has said he believes that the work being done to try to get him released back home to London is “sincere”. With over one hundred thousand of the public having signed petitions to have him released it seems that even after all the pressure and support nothing is happening. The US claim he was leading a group of Taliban fighters, but everyone now seems to agree with his version of events that he was working for a charity when he was arrested.

In 2011 the UK government pressed for his release: “Mr Aamer has never been charged and he has been approved for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations. The best and the right thing we can do is to make sure we have contact at the highest level” – BBC Website

Camoron approached the issue with Barack Obama back in June at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland but nothing has happened. Why? Isn’t this the same Barack Obama who has said continually for the last six years that he wanted the detention camp closed down but still nothing has happened? What’s stopping him? He told the Denver Post in May that:

It’s not sustainable,” Obama said of the prison, adding, “The idea that we  would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried,  that is contrary to who we are, contrary to our interests, and it needs to  stop.”

“All of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this,” he declared.  “Why are we doing this?”

So why are there still over 150 inmates sitting in Cuba when no-one wants it to continue?

Well good old congress has stopped some of the measures that would have seen the most dangerous detainees sent to high security prisons in the US and over fifty are from Yemen and should be sent back there but again the politicians and the military are standing in the way. There is an obvious fear that once released these former detainees will seek revenge for their imprisonment – but the truth is that those like Mr Aamer just want home to his wife and four children, one of which he has never even held as his wife was pregnant with it when he was arrested.

He has spent eleven years out there and now many are concerned for his physical and mental wellbeing and this is why high-profile figures like Boyle need to be seen to be supporting the cause to get the public’s awareness and shine a spotlight on this travesty of a case. Someone needs to get a grip on this situation. Obviously being the president of the United States is not enough and with Senate and Congress screwing nearly everything else up at the moment as the Republicans do everything to damage Obama’s second term and try to stop any of his policies becoming law – then Guantanamo Bay’s doors will stay open but firmly shut. The 166 inmates are stuck in a prison that has not one person inside who has been found guilty of any single charge.

Good luck to Frankie and everyone else who is trying to raise awareness for Mr Aamer.

Find out more about Reprieve at http://www.reprieve.org.uk/ or the case of Mr Aamer at http://action.amnesty.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1194&ea.campaign.id=21268

JD

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