PJ Harvey – Shaker Aamer
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.
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.
© 2013 Hothead Music Ltd.
Saturday 31st October 2015
Shaker Aamer is rushed to hospital after finally touching down in Britain following 13 years without charge or trial
by Luke James and Paddy McGuffin
FREED Shaker Aamer was finally back in Britain yesterday after his 13-year Guantanamo Bay nightmare — but was immediately rushed to hospital.
The last British resident held at the hellish US detention centre — without charge or trial — arrived at Biggin Hill airport in London on a private plane.
Mr Aamer’s long awaited return was announced at just a few hours’ notice by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond over a month after his release was secured.
Mr Aamer’s father-in-law Saeed Siddique called the surprise “a delightful day.”
But there was no emotional airport reunion with family for the father-of-four who required urgent medical treatment.
After landing, the jet taxied into a hangar and the doors were closed before Mr Aamer could be seen.
An ambulance believed to be carrying Mr Aamer then left the main entrance of the airport around half an hour after the plane landed.
It had not been confirmed last night whether Mr Aamer had yet been reunited with his wife and children — including a son he has never met.
After being captured by bounty hunters while doing charity work in Afghanistan and sold to the US, he entered Guantanamo Bay on February 14 2002, the very day his youngest child was born.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said measures have been put in place to “ensure public safety,” but confirmed there were no plans to detain Mr Aamer on his return.
Reprieve charity director and Mr Aamer’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith explained his client’s ordeal had left him “in terrible shape.”
Mr Aamer, known by the Guantanamo authorities as detainee 239, suffered beatings, torture and lengthy spells in solitary confinement.
In protest at the treatment meted out to him and other detainees Mr Aamer engaged in a number of hunger strikes, on one occasion losing more than half his body weight.
And Mr Stafford-Smith said: “His first priority is health.”
“He told me he is like an old car who hasn’t been to see a mechanic for a long time. He needs to get to a hospital.
“His second priority is to get with his family and rebuild that relationship that has been torn from him. He has never even met his youngest child.”
In a statement Mr Aamer said: “The reason I have been strong is because of the support of people so strongly devoted to the truth.
“If I was the fire to be lit to tell the truth, it was the people who protected the fire from the wind.”
The former detainee gave his thanks for the support he has recieved throughout his incarceration: “My thanks go to Allah first, second to my wife, my family, to my kids and then to my lawyers who did everything they could to carry the word to the world.
I feel obliged to every individual who fought for justice not just for me but to bring an end to Guantanamo.
“Without knowing of their fight I might have given up more than once.
“The reality may be that we cannot establish peace but we can establish justice. If there is anything that will bring this world to peace it is to remove injustice.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the leading figures in the campaign that has secured Mr Aamer’s freedom.
Mr Corbyn was among MPs who visited Washington in May to piled pressure on US authorities to secure the release.
He said: “I am delighted to hear that Shaker Aamer has finally been released after 13 years in Guantanamo Bay.
“Now that Shaker has been released, the scandal of the Guantanamo detention camp itself must be brought to an end. I hope that Shaker and his family will now be given the time and space to rebuild their lives.”
Joy Hurcombe, of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, praised the “immense courage and fortitude” show by Mr Aamer.
But she added the campaign would now demand answers from the government over Mr Aamer’s claims that MI5 agents were present during his torture by CIA agents.
A government spokesman said: “We welcome his release and continue to support President [Barack] Obama’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo.”
His biggest tests are yet to come – Begg
Fellow ex-inmate warns that Shaker’s ordeal is far from over
by Paddy McGuffin
FOR the vast majority of people, the horrific ordeal suffered by Shaker Aamer, who was finally freed from Guantanamo Bay yesterday, are unimaginable.
What it feels like to suffer daily beatings, torture and mental abuse, in addition to being incarcerated without charge or trial despite being wholly innocent of any crime, is beyond the comprehension of most.
No doubt the mental and physical scars inflicted on the 46-year-old father of four will take time to heal.
One man who knows all too well what Mr Aamer has gone through, and what now awaits him, is Moazzam Begg, himself a former Guantanamo detainee and founder of human rights group Cage.
In a statement on the organisation’s website, Mr Begg said: “The day has finally arrived. Britain’s longest-serving Guantanamo prisoner is coming home.”
But he also warned: “Shaker’s greatest tests are yet to come.
“That is the heartbreaking part, and anyone who has been imprisoned away from their family can attest to this.
“A stranger becoming a father — not of children, but of young adults — is an unimaginable task that nobody has any expertise in, except perhaps a few Guantanamo prisoners scattered around the globe.”
However, Mr Begg added: “Shaker is a courageous, resilient, kind and thoughtful person who has faced the worst the world has to offer and survived.”
Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, one of four MPs who went to Washington earlier this year to press for Mr Aamer’s release, called on the government to allow the former detainee a family life.
He said: “I hope he will be reunited with his family as swiftly as possible and that he will receive full support as he adapts to life back in Britain after 14 years in custody without charge or trial.”
Joanne MacInnes, of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, raised concerns that Mr Aamer could be tagged or monitored.
She said the more pressing issue was health problems which “have never really been addressed.”
Ms MacInnes added: “He also has a huge suspicion of doctors because all doctors have done so far is watch and be complicit in his torture in Guantanamo. He will have to overcome that lack of trust and hopefully finally be treated with some TLC.”
Aamer must be ‘closely monitored’ say rightwingers
by Lamiat Sabin
SHAKER AAMER should be “monitored very carefully” by security officials, a “neoconservative” organisation said yesterday on the innocent man’s first day of freedom.
Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a self-declared “pro-democracy think tank,” accused Mr Aamer of having been “a weapons-trained recruiter for al-Qaida,” for which he should be kept under surveillance.
This is despite the fact that the last British detainee held in Guantanamo was never charged or put on trial for any crime.
The HJS, an anti-communist group that has had former CIA director James Woolsey as a patron, claimed to have “several areas of concern” over Mr Aamer’s return to his family.
Stop the War Coalition spokesman Chris Nineham said the … HJS had “complete contempt for any legal process and lacks humanity” in smearing Mr Aamer before and after his release.
He added that the former detainee had been “tortured and imprisoned without trial and there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the claims the HJS is making.
“The danger is that we are moving into territory where anyone that is Muslim and accused by the authorities automatically becomes a terrorist.”
Compensation of around £1 million is rumoured to have beeen offered to Mr Aamer. Mr Simcox claimed that it could end up in the pockets of “violent extremists,” endangering national security.
Tory PM David Cameron’s spokeswoman said: “There was a settlement in relation to detainees in 2010.
“That was subject to a legally binding confidentiality agreement. I cannot go into details of who was party to it.”
Reaction: Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty director
Shaker Aamer’s release will bring huge relief to his family, but serious questions remain. Why did it take us so many years to persuade our closest ally to behave decently?
Reaction: John McDonnell, shadow chancellor
Shaker was simply a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, a charity worker building wells in Afghanistan who was kidnapped, ransomed and falsely imprisoned.
“I hope that he now gets the full support he needs so that he’ll be able to settle back into society, and get on with the rest of his life.
Reaction: Kate Hudson, CND general secretary
His wife and children, including a son he has never met, have suffered greatly since their husband and father was imprisoned and I hope today will be the first step to recovery for all of them. We must not forget that Shaker and his family are victims of the ‘war on terror’ launched by Bush and Blair.
Reaction: Chris Nineham, Stop the War deputy chair
He has never been tried and has had to suffer imprisonment for over a decade. We wish him and all those close to him well in adjusting to life back in London.
We call for the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to be closed.
SHAKER AAMER is finally at home with his family, but the 13 years he suffered in the Guantanamo Bay torture camp stand as an eternal badge of shame for Britain. Successive British governments colluded with Washington’s denial of justice and humanity to prisoners in US-occupied Cuba, putting a mythical “special relationship” before the rule of law: here.
Blair and Straw face questions over complicity in Shaker Aamer’s treatment. Alex Salmond says Guantánamo detainee’s claim that former PM and minister must have known of his torture is reasonable: here.
Shaker Aamer tells extremists to ‘get the hell out’ of UK in first interview after Guantanamo release. The father of four says 14 years of pain were ‘washed away’ when he was reunited with his wife: here.