Will innocent Guantanamo prisoner be free at last?


This music video about the Guantanamo Bay camp is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Shaker Aamer could be weeks from freedom

Thursday 28th May 2015

Last Briton in Guantanamo gets scent of home

THE last British prisoner in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp could be released within weeks, it was revealed yesterday.

Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children live in Battersea in London, has been unlawfully held in the United States’ camp in Cuba for 14 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.

His release was authorised by US authorities seven years ago, but he has remained in Guantanamo.

A cross-party delegation of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and David Davis travelled to Washington on Monday to lobby President Barack Obama to finally release him.

In a BBC interview, Mr Aamer’s solicitor Clive Stafford Smith said that US government officials have told him Mr Aamer is going to be released in June.

However, a Reprieve spokeswoman told the Star that Mr Stafford Smith “did caveat what he said quite heavily — there have been positive noises and we are optimistic, but there’s no confirmation or timeline or anything like that.”

Mr Obama pledged to close the camp, which still holds 57 prisoners, in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Aamer has never been charged with any offence or stood trial. He has suffered ill health through his detention and treatment at the hands of his US military captors, and has never met his last-born child.

When he was arrested in 2001, US authorities alleged he had led a unit of Taliban fighters and met former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But Mr Aamer has maintained throughout his imprisonment that he was in Afghanistan with his family doing charity work.

Mr Stafford Smith praised campaigners around the world, and particularly in Britain, for their actions demanding the release of Mr Aamer.

Earlier this month, as reported in the Morning Star, one volunteer spent 14 hours locked in a cage in Trafalgar Square — one hour for each year of Mr Aamer’s incarceration.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “So many people have done so many great things to help him and I think that’s had a great impact.”

Where have all the lions gone, music video


This 26 May 2015 music video is called Where have all the lions gone.

From Lion Aid:

Where Have All The Lions Gone? Words by Revd Lynne Chitty, music and vocals by Kerst

26 May 2015

The Reverend Lynne Chitty has written the most moving words to express the emotion we are all feeling as we watch the majestic African lion being slaughtered almost to extinction through trophy hunting. Lions are paying a terrible price for man’s desire to kill lions for sport, from both wild lion hunting and from the hideously cruel canned lion hunting. We can no longer sit back and do nothing………

She asked Kerst, a singer/songwriter if he could compose some music to accompany her words……

Between them, they have produced the most poignant song.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE LIONS GONE?

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

The plains have all grown silent
Shots are the only sound
Majestic beasts that loved to roam
Lie dead upon the ground
With trophy hunters smiling
Delighted at their kill
Shooting drugged canned lions
For pleasure and at will

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Blood is on the hunters hands
But it is on ours too
If we don’t speak out in protest
And do all we can do
There’s just too many people
Taking lands that lions need
We have to find an answer
To mans desires and greed

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me its not so
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Earth is home to everyone
To every creature too
We’re entrusted with their welfare
And with their future too
We can all live together
John and Christian showed us how
Love is universal
And love is needed now.

Where have all the lions gone
it seems just yesterday
when roaring could be heard at dusk
and cubs were free to play
Where have all the lions gone
Tell me do you know
Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me it’s not so

Surely they’ve not all been killed
Oh tell me its not so

Lynne has set up a Just Giving page for all those who would also like to do more to help. Click here to donate.

LionAid are fighting for legislation change to bring about a ban on both wild and canned lion trophy hunting. It is a slow process with many setbacks along the way but slowly we can see the first green shoots of change happening.

All funds raised from this song will go towards this campaign to protect lions from being slaughtered by trophy hunters.

A heartfelt thank you to all of you who contribute to this campaign and of course to Lynne and Kerst for producing the most haunting song to give voice to the overwhelming emotion we are all feeling as the lions die one by one…..

Classical music in the botanical garden


Ragazze Kwartet, 25 May 2015

This cell phone photo shows Dutch classical music group Ragazze Kwartet on 25 May 2015; during a concert in the botanical garden in Leiden.

They played Maurice Ravel‘s string quartet in F major.

This video shows another time when they played that.

The Ragazze Kwartet consists of Rosa Arnold, violin; Jeanita Vriens, violin; Annemijn Bergkotte, viola; and Kirsten Jenson, cello.

Classical and folk rock music


Willem Bodhi in concert, 24 May 2015

On 24 May 2015, Willem Bodhi played guitar and sang, as this cell phone photo shows.

This was an open air concert in the courtyard of the Jean Michelhof in Leiden; built in 1687 for housing elderly French-speaking refugees. The Jean Michelhof is a ‘hofje‘, a courtyard with almshouses around it. There are over thirty hofjes in Leiden. They used to be for elderly people. Today, mainly students and others live there.

Jean Michelhof courtyard, photo by Biccie

This photo shows the Jean Michelhof when the courtyard is empty.

This is a video of Willem Bodhi playing to thousands of people at the Parkpop rock festival in 2014 in The Hague.

In the small Jean Michelhof courtyard, though it was jam-packed, of course far less people could listen. Still, things went well, as the weather was sunny.

One of the songs Willem sang was ‘Here comes the sun‘, originally by George Harrison; with its line ‘It’s all right’. It’s all right with me as well … as long as that sun is not Rupert Murdoch‘s Sun :)

Among Willem’s other songs was another Beatles song, Come Together.

This concert was part of a big series of concerts with various types of music in the hofjes of Leiden, on 23-25 May.

Earlier on 24 May, we had heard another concert, also packed, at the somewhat larger Pieter Loridanshof.

A group of three musicians: Isabel Favilla on recorder and baroque bassoon; Filipa Meneses on viola da gamba; and Giulio Quirici on theorbo played baroque music there.

Innocent prisoner Shaker Aamer still in Guantanamo


This music video says about itself:

3 August 2013

PJ Harvey has released a song to highlight the ongoing detention of the last British resident held inside the US prison at Guantánamo Bay.

The track, called Shaker Aamer was recorded by the Mercury prizewinning songwriter to help maintain pressure to have the 46-year-old, whose family live in south London, released back to Britain.

Aamer has been detained in Guantánamo for more than 11 years, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and remains imprisoned without charge or trial. He has a British wife and his four children — the youngest of whom he has never met — were all born in Britain. They live in Tooting, south London.

The British government has stated repeatedly that it wants him back in the UK and last week, under escalating international pressure, the US announced it is to restart transfers from the prison. Concerns remain, however, that Aamer might be forcibly sent to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned there instead of being reunited with his family in the UK.

Shaker Aamer

No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.

Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?

With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.

Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.

In camp 5, eleven years.
Never Charged. Six years cleared.

They took away my one note pad,
and they refused to give it back.

I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend, Shaker Aamer. Lost.

The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.

Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker, Guantanamo Bay.

Don’t forget.

© 2013 Hothead Music Ltd.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:

In 2001 Shaker Aamer and his family were happily living in Afghanistan. He was working on building girls’ schools and improving education.

September 2001 came, and with it war on Afghanistan waged by an enormous international coalition and many others.

The US offered enormous sums of money to anyone in Afghanistan who could bring in any foreign nationals who were deemed to be supporters of the Taliban. Shaker was a victim of this, and was sold by various bounty hunters and eventually ended up in Bagram base in Kabul where he was brutally treated, and then sometime later found himself in Guantanamo Bay.

He has never been charged with any offence and never been through any judicial process. He has now been in custody for 14 years.

He has a Saudi passport, but his wife and children are all British and he has permanent residence in Britain. He was cleared for release by the George Bush administration and later re-cleared for release by the Barack Obama presidency, but is still not able to return to his family.

In Guantanamo Bay there have been protests, hunger strikes and a worldwide campaign — 15 British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been returned home but Shaker remains in custody.

This issue has been raised by the wonderful Save Shaker Aamer campaign who have been marching, meeting, protesting and demonstrating outside Parliament for a long time and they deserve enormous credit.

Earlier this year John McDonnell formed an all-party parliamentary Shaker Aamer group which immediately attracted 40 MPs of all parties and in March placed a resolution before the House of Commons calling for his return to Britain.

This was agreed by the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has taken the issue up directly with President Obama, and William Hague also raised the subject with his counterpart, Hilary Clinton, when he was foreign secretary.

Early this week I was part of a delegation with two conservative MPs — Andrew Mitchell and David Davis — and one Labour colleague, Andy Slaughter, to lobby the US Senate on the case.

During meetings with Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Manchin, Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin, as well as in discussions with the State Department and the Senate Armed Services Committee we demanded Shaker’s release from Guantanamo Bay.

It’s past time this legal void should be closed, and Shaker allowed to return to Britain.

Without campaigning by ordinary people for justice for Shaker, there would never have been a resolution passed by the House of Commons to visit the Senate. It shows the value of protest.

Lavinia Meijer, Carel Kraayenhof concert report


In this 26 April 2015 Dutch TV video, Dutch harp player Lavinia Meijer is interviewed; and plays Clair de lune, by Claude Debussy.

And in this music video, Dutch bandoneon player Carel Kraayenhof and his group play one of Kraayenhof’s compositions, Desconcierto.

Lavinia Meijer and Carel Kraayenhof met two years ago, in Carré theatre in Amsterdam. They decided they would like to do concerts together. Bandoneon and harp is a unique combination.

On 22 May 2015, they played together in the Hooglandse Kerk, Saint Pancras church, in Leiden. This is a big late medieval Gothic church. Very many people had come for the concert. Some people had to stand.

First, Meijer and Kraayenhof played Enrique Granados Campiña, #5 of 12 danzas españolas.

Then, a milonga by Jorge Cardoso from Argentina. In this and other Argentine music, Ms Meijer’s harp played a role somewhat similar to guitars in Argentine musical tradition.

Then, Nata blanca, by Kraayenhof himself. The title means ‘White nose'; because Kraayenhof’s cat has a white nose.

Then, La puñalada, by Uruguyan composer Pintín Castellanos.

Then, three compositions by Astor Piazzolla: Burdel; Café; and Nightclub.

Concert Meijer-Kraayenhof, 22 May 2015

This cell phone photo was taken while Nightclub was played.

Then, a harp solo by Lavinia Meijer: Clair de lune, by Debussy.

Kraayenhof returned to the stage, to join in playing Il postino, by Luis Bacalov. This is music from the film of the same name; about the exile of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Italy.

Then, Kraayenhof’s Desconcierto.

Then, Anselmo Aieta‘s Palomita blanca.

Then, Kraayenhof’s own work again: So many partings.

Finally, Mariano Mores, Taquito militar.

As the audience clapped enthusiastically, there was an encore: Lo que vendrá, by Astor Piazzolla.

In this video, two guitarists play Lo que vendrá.

As I left the church, five swifts flying together over a roof, calling.