Guantanamo Bay torture, stop cover up

This video from human rights organisation Reprieve says about itself:

The footage the U.S. Government doesn’t want you to see

19 January 2016

The real footage of abusive force-feeding at Guantánamo Bay could finally be released to the public, but only if we fight for it.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

US ‘must’ publish torture videos

Thursday 21st January 2016

Reprieve urges supporters to lobby for the release of horrific force-feeding footage

A BRITISH charity urged its US supporters yesterday to lobby their government to release disturbing top-secret footage of a hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay prisoner being force-fed.

Reprieve, which campaigned for the release of British detainee Shaker Aamer, wants people to “act quickly” in order to expose harrowing prison camp torture.

US Solicitor General Don Verrilli will decide tomorrow, seven years after President Barack Obama vowed to close the prison in Cuba, whether to lodge an appeal to block anyone from viewing the evidence of abuse.

Reprieve’s website offers a template email to send to Mr Verrilli to encourage him to “drop the appeal and release as much of the footage as is feasible to the general public.”

Hours of redacted footage shows former Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab — held for 12 years without charge or trial — dragged from his cell by guards in riot gear and force-fed.

Only the US government and Reprieve lawyers have ever been able to view the tapes.

Mr Dhiab, who has been wheelchair-bound since being released to Uruguay in 2014, was routinely abused and had unsanitary tubes pushed into his throat by medics, while one of the six riot gear-clad guards filmed everything.

Save Shaker Aamer Campaign chairwoman Joy Hurcombe said it’s “essential” that the public witnesses how prisoners on hunger strike are tortured on a daily basis.

She told the Star: “They are dragged from their cells and brutally strapped in and fed in the most inhumane fashion. It is a crime against humanity, illegal and a form of torture.”

Ms Hurcombe added that she watched “unspeakably violent” simulated footage demonstrating methods designed to “dehumanise prisoners, destroy their bodies and crush their will.”

This is because hunger strikes are the only form of peaceful protest that detainees have, she said.

She continued: “The tubes are harshly entered through the nose and mouth, although they are often much too big and have not been cleaned after being used on other prisoners.

“Prisoners are in pain and choking. The tubes are yanked out and, if they vomit, they are subjected to more force-feeding and are not allowed any water.”

The US government is “deeply ashamed” of the events — despite insisting that no torture occurs — and “will try every way to stop people seeing the footage,” according to Ms Hurcombe.

Sixteen media organisations — including the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times Company and Bloomberg — intervened in the legal case to lobby for the release of the footage.

Last January, they criticised the US government’s “absolutist position” in blocking access to court evidence that “violates constitutional access rights and the separation of powers.”

Reprieve lawyers had won a legal battle to obtain the footage and a judge has already ordered the US government to release the tapes — but Mr Verrilli could still block it.

Lawyer Cori Crider said: “[The footage] is disturbing and will make anyone who watches it lose sleep. But that’s exactly why the public needs to see it.

“If Obama is going to make meaningful progress in keeping his promise to shut Guantanamo, all of us need to know what the daily reality of the prison is like.”

ACTIVISTS in Britain launched a Close Guantanamo campaign yesterday, calling on Barack Obama to shut down the prison within the year he has left in office: here.


‘Tony Blair complicit in torturing innocent Guantanamo prisoner’

This video from Britain says about itself:

Marr Show: Alex Salmond on British illegal kidnap+torture, Gitmo (13 December 2015)

SNP’s Alex Salmond talks about the British government’s illegal kidnap and torture of people like ex-Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detainee Shaker Aamer.

By Luke James in Britain:

Aamer suffered ‘to save Blair

Monday 14th December 2015

SNP’s Salmond backs claim that Blair knew of torture

SHAKER AAMER’S Guantanamo Bay hell may have been prolonged to protect Tony Blair from claims he “collaborated” in torture, former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond said yesterday.

Speaking about his almost 14-year ordeal at the notorious US prison for the first time since being released in October, Mr Aamer alleged at the weekend that Mr Blair and former home secretary Jack Straw were aware that he was being tortured.

Now SNP MP Mr Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland, has backed his claim that the pair must have known about the “illegal abduction” and “torture.”

“As in so many things Messrs Blair and Straw have a great deal to answer for,” he told the Andrew Marr Show.

“They have to be asked a straight question: How could they possibly not have known about the fate that had befallen a British citizen?

“The prime responsibility of all governments is to keep their own citizens safe from harm.

“Governments are not meant to collaborate on the illegal abduction and then the torture of one of their own citizens.”

He went further, suggesting that concerns Mr Aamer would implicate the pair in his torture was behind the delay in his release.

The British resident was twice cleared for release from the gulag by a panel of US intelligence officers, most recently in 2009.

Yet he spent another six years in the camp, being placed in solitary confinement, suffering sleep deprivation and interrogations.

Mr Aamer has claimed that British intelligence officers witnessed this torture first-hand at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in 2002, where he was held before being tranferred to Guantanamo.

Mr Salmond pointed out that the spooks flew into the base on the same flight as Mr Blair, who was visiting British troops.

“One of the suspicions that people who have been campaigning for his release have had is that there had to be a reason for him not being released despite being cleared for release twice over that period.

“It’s obviously centred on the revelations he would have on what’s been going on at Guantanamo Bay.

“It now appears a reason might have been on what had gone on in January 2002 at Bagram air base.”

Mr Aamer demonstrated how he was “hog-tied” for almost an hour by US troops at the air base as part of the Mail on Sunday interview.

“It kills you, man. You cry, the pain is so bad,” he said.

“They were kicking me at the same time. I thought I was going to lose my legs.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Blair insisted he had “never condoned” the use of torture.

Mr Straw also refuted Mr Salmond’s allegations, ludicrously claiming: “I spent a large part of my time as foreign secretary making strong representations to the US government to get British detainees out of Guantanamo Bay and the US government’s ill-treatment and torture of detainees remains a terrible stain on its record.”

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign called for their claims to be tested by a public inquiry.

Chair Joy Hurcombe told the Star: “I think they were party to it and therefor they should be made accountable for their involvement.”

Ms Hurcombe, who is one of the few people to have met Mr Aamer since his return, also called for him to be granted British citizenship immediately.

Forty-eight-year-old Mr Aamer also opened up this weekend about his new challenge of resuming normal family life.

He said: “I’m finally living. I’m here with my kids, trying to learn to be a father.”

Release Guantanamo torture videos, United States judge says

Bush's Guantanamo torture, cartoon

By Tom Carter in the USA:

US judge orders release of Guantanamo torture videos

31 October 2015

On Tuesday, federal district judge Gladys Kessler rejected the Obama administration’s latest attempts to block the disclosure of videos that depict beatings and force-feeding at the Guantanamo Bay torture camp.

Judge Kessler had previously ordered the release of the videos on October 3 of last year, and the Obama administration has been attempting to overturn her order ever since. The videos in question are 32 separate recordings and two compilations that depict the torture of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

Dhiab was abducted by the US government in Pakistan in 2002 and smuggled to Guantanamo Bay. After being held and tortured for 12 years without charges or trial, he was released in December 2014 to Uruguay.

Dhiab was born in Lebanon but grew up in Syria. After his marriage he moved to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he ran a small business. Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Dhiab fled to Pakistan with his wife and children, where he was seized by the authorities and turned over to the American intelligence agencies, likely in return for the payment of a cash bounty.

As a result of his brutal treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Dhiab is now permanently disabled and confined to a wheelchair.

While at Guantanamo Bay torture camp, Dhiab went on a peaceful hunger strike to protest his detention and the conditions of his confinement. Hunger strikes have been widespread at Guantanamo Bay ever since the camp was opened. A 2013 hunger strike involved more than half the population of the camp.

Guantanamo’s guards sought to break the hunger strikes, which they called “voluntary fasting,” with the most sadistic retaliation. In addition to savage beatings called “forcible cell extractions,” strikers were subjected to force-feeding against their will. Strikers were strapped down while feeding tubes, with no anesthetic, were roughly forced up their noses and down their throats. Often, the tube had blood and bile still on it from the previous victim.

Describing the treatment of inmate Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who later died at Guantanamo Bay under suspicious circumstances, a 2004 Amnesty International report stated: “Twice a day, the guards immobilize Latif’s head, strap his arms and legs to a special restraint chair, and force-feed him a liquid nutrient by inserting a tube up his nose and into his stomach—a clear violation of international standards. The feeding, Latif says, ‘is like having a dagger shoved down your throat.’”

Another Guantanamo prisoner, Ahmed Rabbani, described how during the procedure he “vomited blood on himself three or four times” before passing out. During one sitting, the tube was inserted upside down, so that it felt like it was being “pushed up into [his] brain.” According to his attorney, this left Rabbani “screaming in pain.”

While Dhiab was being held at Guantanamo Bay, attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in the United States in an attempt to stop the torture.

At the time, Dhiab told his attorneys, “This is my life. I should have the freedom to decide what I want to do with it. If I want to go on hunger strike, that is my business. They should never force feed us. I am on a peaceful protest. The U.S. government pretends that they give freedom to people, but in this way they are taking away my freedom. The whole world knows that we are protesting peacefully and they pretend they want to take care of our health. It is our health, to do with as we see fit.”

“I want to see my wife and children after this captivity and take them to my chest,” he continued. “I want them to feel that their father is with them—that they are not orphans, that their father is alive. I want and demand my stolen freedom and the peace that I am looking for. I want to leave to get medical treatment, and meet my dear wife and sons.”

In May 2014, Judge Kessler issued a ruling that allowed the force-feeding to continue. While she criticized the force-feeding procedures, which caused Dhiab to “suffer unnecessary pain,” she wrote that “the Court simply cannot let Mr. Dhiab die.”

In the course of the litigation, 32 “classified” videotapes depicting the torture of Dhiab were apparently disclosed to Judge Kessler but were not made available to the public. In June 2014, a number of journalists intervened in the case to try to secure the release of the torture videos to the public, after which Judge Kessler agreed to permit a partial release of the footage.

The Obama administration claims that the torture videos constitute “state secrets,” and has sought to block their release in court on the grounds of “national security.” The Obama administration claims that the videos would “incite” extremist groups to engage in violence against America and also embolden other Guantanamo detainees.

Government lawyers appealed unsuccessfully to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the disclosure of the videos, and on May 29 the case was returned to Judge Kessler. On Tuesday, Kessler issued a decision rejecting the Obama administration’s latest arguments as “repetitive, speculative, and extremely vague.”

“Transparency about the actions of our government—including the judiciary—is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” Kessler wrote. “This Court has found that the Government’s justifications for barring the American public from seeing the videotapes are not sufficiently rational and plausible to justify barring release of the videotapes, which are part of the Court’s official records, from the eyes and ears of the American public.”

Incredibly, the Obama administration’s lawyers had tried to argue that releasing the videos would violate Dhiab’s right to privacy. In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Kessler called this argument “flat out unbelievable.”

In fact, Dhiab supports the release of the videos. “I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed,” Dhiab wrote in documents filed with the court. “If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they need to see these tapes.”

The force-feeding of hunger strikers is acknowledged as a potential form of torture under international law. Since 1975, the World Medical Association has prohibited doctors from participating in the force-feeding of hunger strikers, so long as the prisoner is “capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment.”

In addition to brutal beatings and force-feeding, other forms of torture practiced at Guantanamo Bay and other US “black site” facilities have included waterboarding, forced nudity, shackling in “stress positions,” sexual humiliation, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, mock executions, solitary confinement, and the infamous practice of “rectal feeding” revealed by the December 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program.

To date, none of the war criminals involved in this sadistic conspiracy have been prosecuted, from the participants and their supervisors to those at the top who orchestrated and continue to cover up the program. Instead, the Obama administration has bent over backwards to coddle and protect the war criminals, attempting to conceal the torture program behind a veil of “state secrets” and “national security.”

The Obama administration has vigorously opposed the disclosure of the Dhiab torture videos, and plans to appeal Judge Kessler’s latest decision, further delaying their release.

As of December 4, 2013, the Obama administration announced that it would not be disclosing any more information about the Guantanamo hunger strikes to the public, on the grounds that disclosure does not serve any “operational purpose.”

The author also recommends:

The death of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif
[3 December 2012]

Guantánamo Diary: A book that needs to be read
[6 February 2015]

The White House indicated Tuesday that President Barack Obama will sign into law a Pentagon spending bill that significantly raises the base budget of the US war machine while prohibiting the shutdown of the prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba or the transfer of its detainees to US facilities: here.

WHITE HOUSE REJECTS GUANTANAMO CLOSURE PLAN FROM PENTAGON Costs could run as high as $600 million to build a replacement prison within the United States. [Reuters]

Man held at Guantánamo for 13 years a case of mistaken identity, say officials. Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was low-level Islamist foot soldier, not al-Qaida courier and trainer as had been believed: here.

GUANTANAMO PRISONER HELD 13 YEARS IN CASE OF ‘MISTAKEN IDENTITY’ Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, a low-level fighter, was mistaken for a key figure in al Qaeda. [Dominique Mosbergen, HuffPost]

WASHINGTON — Weeks before she stepped down as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton wrote a memo urging President Barack Obama to step up his administration’s efforts to close the military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay in his second term. In the confidential January 2013 memo obtained by The Huffington Post, Clinton told Obama she worried that support for closing Guantanamo would further erode unless the administration took action: here.

Shaker Aamer, from Guantanámo torture to hospital

This music video says about itself:

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.

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 Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Welcome home!

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.

Innocent Guantanamo prisoner free at last

This is a video of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, saying during the March on Washington in the USA: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last’!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Shaker Aamer released: After 13 years in Guantanamo, final British detainee lands at Biggin Hill

Mr Aamer was never convicted of any crimes

Rose Troup Buchanan

2 hours ago

The last British resident detained in Guantanamo landed in the UK on Friday after spending 13 years imprisoned in Cuba.

Shaker Aamer, 48, landed at Biggin Hill airport at around 2pm in a private Gulfstream IV jet.

Security at the airport, located in south east London, was tight with journalists and even Mr Aamer’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith denied entry.

“He needs, first, to be in a hospital, and then to be with his family,” Clive Stafford Smith, told an Associated Press reporter.

Mr Aamer will be taken for a health check-up before returning to his home in Battersea, south London.

During his time in Guantanamo, an independent doctor who examined him warned his health had rapidly deteriorated in the past eight years.

Dr Emily Keram, a US doctor who visited him during his imprisonment, diagnosed Mr Aamer with acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines, digestive problems, swelling, asthma and tinnitus. She recommended urgent treatment.

Mr Aamer was cleared for release from the notorious US detention centre in Cuba in 2007, but it would be a further eight years before American officials allowed his transfer.

A Saudi citizen, Mr Aamer has four children with his British wife and has been granted permanent British residency. He has never met his youngest son, born after he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and then imprisoned by the US government.

Films on Afghan war, Guantanamo reviewed

This video from Canada is called GUANTANAMO’S CHILD: OMAR KHADR Trailer | Festival 2015.

By Joanne Laurier:

8 October 2015

This is the fourth in a series of articles devoted to the recent Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-20). The first part was posted September 26, the second part October 1 and the third part October 3.

The case of Omar Khadr

The “war on terror” is a lying, noxious phrase, endlessly invoked to justify the American ruling elite’s drive for global dominance. This week marks the 14th anniversary of the US military’s invasion of Afghanistan, an exercise in sociocide, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousands and the further laying waste of the already impoverished nation.

The tragic encounter of American imperialism with the Afghan people goes back to the late 1970s, when the Carter administration incited and fomented Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden, as part of the strategy of undermining the Soviet Union. The criminality of US policy in Central Asia knows almost no bounds.

Michelle Shephard and Patrick Reed’s documentary, Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, concerns itself with the Canadian-born youth who was captured in Afghanistan by US forces in 2002 during an airstrike and assault that killed all the anti-American insurgents except the grievously wounded, 15-year-old Omar. He was sent to the Bagram Air Base, site of a notorious US prison in Afghanistan, and tortured, before he was transferred to the even more notorious Guantanamo Bay internment camp in Cuba.

Treated like a “terrorist”—for having fought as a soldier against an invading army—by the criminals in the American government and their junior partners in Canada, Omar, in 2005, became the only juvenile to be tried for war crimes.

In 2010, he pleaded not guilty to “murdering” US Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during the 2002 firefight. Three months later, he changed his plea, his only means of obtaining release from the Guantanamo hellhole. Over the strenuous objections of the Harper government in Ottawa, Omar was repatriated to Canada in 2012. Since his release in May 2015, Khadr has resided with his lawyer Dennis Edney in Edmonton, Alberta.

As the Shephard-Reed film reveals, Omar Khadr is a remarkable young man, as is his feisty, Scottish-born attorney. Through extensive interviews, Guantanamo’s Child constructs a nightmarish picture of Omar’s ordeal at the hands of the American military.

Although the bright and soft-spoken Omar is forthright in declaring that he was fighting “for a cause: fighting invaders,” the filmmakers are far more defensive about his role. In fact, the initial portions of the documentary tend to take the “war on terror” and the accompanying propaganda campaign at face value, as though “everything changed” as a result of the 9/11 attacks. The implication is that the “Americans” may have overreacted, but they had every right to “defend” themselves.

Any objective examination of the post-9/11 measures by the Bush administration would conclude that the actions corresponded to a long-standing agenda, involving massive US intervention in the Middle East and Central Asia in pursuit of energy supplies and, more generally, American imperialist geopolitical objectives, and that the terrorist attacks merely provided a pretext.

Missing in Guantanamo’s Child is any reference to the history of the region. There is no indication that the bin Laden forces were financed and encouraged by the CIA. It should be noted that Shepard, who wrote a book in 2008 entitled Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, is the national security reporter for the Toronto Star, one of Canada’s largest daily newspapers.

All in all, it seems fair to argue that documentary reflects the views of that section of the Canadian elite that is not happy with the country’s current relationship with Washington, with what it perceives as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s subservience, and is taking the opportunity to “stick it” to the US over the Khadr case.

In any case, whatever the serious weaknesses of Guantanamo’s Child, the majority of the film is devoted to allowing Omar to speak openly about his past and present condition—unusual in the pro-war media propaganda world. He has an insightful, mature and cautious voice.

Omar Khadr was born in Toronto in 1986, but spent much of his childhood in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The film briefly discusses his family and his early life.

As Guantanamo’s Child reveals, after his 2002 capture, the teenager suffered extensive psychological and physical abuse. In one striking scene, a repentant Damien Corsetti, a former US interrogator at Bagram, who was nicknamed “The Monster” for using techniques such as the “Human Mop” (forcing prisoners to wipe up their urine on the floor with their own bodies), movingly talks about how Omar’s youth and bravery humanized him. This contrasts to the self-justifying remarks made by a former CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) official, who features prominently in the film.

Also interviewed are the well-spoken Moazzam Begg and Ruhal Ahmed, both British citizens who bear witness to the horrors perpetrated in American prisons—Moazzam having been incarcerated with Omar at Bagram and Ruhal with him at Guantanamo. In addition, Omar’s mother and sister make critical, but unsurprisingly disoriented, remarks about the invaders.

The film also shows Omar’s amazing fortitude. Despite his age, and imprisonment for more than a decade, he never cowers before his tormentors and their false accusations. He also defied the incredible odds against being released from Guantanamo.

During the 2002 firefight, the Americans inflicted serious wounds on Omar, including two holes in his chest, that would eventually destroy one eye and greatly impair the other. Were it not for the intrepid efforts of Edney—his lawyer who was initially not allowed access to Omar for four years—he would still be locked away as an “enemy combatant” in the internment camp.

These two remarkable individuals and their bond drive the movie, but as well highlight the documentary’s major internal contradiction: Omar himself is prima facie evidence of the inhuman, illegal nature of the war. Unfortunately, the filmmakers never follow the political logic of the story of their protagonist and the forces who calumniated and tried to destroy him.

Thank You for Bombing

From Austria comes Thank You For Bombing, directed by Barbara Eder (Inside America, 2010), which provides an unflattering portrait of contemporary journalists on assignment in war zones.

The fiction film comprises a triptych of stories related to the war in Afghanistan. The first concerns an Austrian reporter, Ewald (Erwin Steinhauser), forced by his boss to go to Afghanistan. Clearly suffering from a post-traumatic nervous disorder that has rendered him incontinent, Ewald sees a man at the airport who may or may not have been involved in the murder of his cameraman during the war in Bosnia. Neither his unsympathetic editor nor his sympathetic wife are inclined to believe a man plagued by horrible wartime memories.

The next two segments are indictments of the unrelenting careerism and opportunism of war correspondents. In the first, American reporter Lana (Manon Kahle) will stop at nothing to obtain an interview with two US soldiers in Afghanistan who allegedly have burned copies of the Koran. The episode is based on the incident that memorably set off massive protests in 2012. Lana bribes and cajoles anyone and everyone to obtain what will be a major “scoop.”

The two soldiers, more like caged wild animals, are being held in an isolated bunker by the American military. Lana buys her way into their presence. But after the interview, they turn the tables on her. She allows herself to submit to gross humiliations and a near-rape to get the story. Although a revealing sequence, the encounter between Lana and the two offending soldiers takes on a gratuitous character at a certain point. It does, however, depict a demoralized, dehumanized American army.

In the movie’s final chapter, Cal (Raphael von Bargen), once a respected journalist, is tired of waiting for the bombs to begin falling. He even tries to stage young Afghan boys throwing rocks at American soldiers. A heavy drinker, he gets fired. On a drive in the middle of nowhere, a tragic accident takes the life of his driver, which has little impact on the callous reporter.

Eder’s Thank You for Bombing is rightfully contemptuous of the media, but says little or nothing about the war itself. It is critical of ambitious journalists who use and abuse the native population, going so far as to be grateful for the dropping of American bombs that will devastate the country, thus giving them new headlines. Although an angry protest (one assumes against the war), the movie suffers from a lack of serious context.

During the question-and-answer period after the film’s public screening in Toronto, director Eder explained that the work was based on real incidents that she fictionalized to safeguard the identities of the journalists.

Innocent Guantanamo prisoner will be freed after thirteen years

This video from the USA is called Free at Last- Martin Luther King, Jr.

This music video is called PJ Harvey-Shaker Aamer.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Freedom at last

Saturday 26th September 2015

Shaker Aamer cleared for release after 13 years in Guantanamo

AFTER 13 years of unimaginable torment, torture and abuse, it was finally confirmed yesterday that the last Briton in Guantanamo Shaker Aamer is to be released.

Mr Aamer, who has been held without charge or trial and who has twice been cleared for release by the US authorities, continued to languish in the US gulag despite an international campaign to secure his freedom.

During this time he suffered lengthy periods in solitary confinement and almost daily beatings.

Hopes had initially been raised earlier this year following a cross-party parliamentary delegation to the US that Mr Aamer could be released in June, but as this deadline elapsed fears grew once more for his mental and physical well-being.

But the Foreign Office officially confirmed that he was to be returned to Britain to at long last be united with his wife and children, the youngest of whom he has never seen.

British resident Mr Aamer, 46, who is a Saudi national, was originally detained in Afghanistan in 2001.

He was sold to the US for a bounty and detained first in the infamous Bagram airbase detention facility before being transferred to Guantanamo.

His release is expected to take place once the 30-day notice period set by the US authorities has expired.

Mr Aamer’s lawyer and director of legal action charity Reprieve Clive Stafford Smith said: “This is great news, albeit about 13 years too late.

“But they only just gave notice to Congress, so that means that without robust intervention Shaker and his family have to wait until October 25 at the earliest for their reunion.

“The UK must demand President Obama that he should be on a plane tomorrow, so that Shaker’s family do not have to endure more of the agony of waiting, uncertain every time a phone rings.

“British politicians may bombasticate about our ‘robust and effective systems to deal with suspected terrorists,’ but Shaker is not and never has been a terrorist and has been cleared by the Americans themselves for eight years.

“I hope the authorities will understand that what he wants most is to be left alone with his family to start rebuilding his life.”

Jeremy Corbyn, who has long campaigned for Mr Aamer’s release, said he was “very pleased” to hear about Mr Aamer.

He said: “We must recognise the steadfastness of his family and the commitment of all those who joined this campaign, whether they lobbied their MPs or demonstrated on the streets outside Parliament against this clear injustice.

Save Shaker Aamer Campaign chair Joy Hurcombe, who has tirelessly campaigned for his release, told the Star: “Let’s hope the terrible ordeal for Shaker will finally come to an end. He has suffered so much gross injustice. We must now make sure that Shaker is able to have the time to recover from all his years of isolation and torture without too much media intrusion.”

Shaker Aamer family call on US not to delay freeing him from Guantánamo. Washington says Saudi translator, married to a Briton, will be released, but his lawyers and friends worry process may be dragged out for months: here.

Update: here.

SHAKER AAMER fears that he will never be released from Guantanamo Bay — despite the Obama administration setting his date of freedom for Sunday. The last British detainee in the US military prison in Cuba added yesterday that he was not getting his hopes up as he had been promised release before: here.

Mohammed el Gharani, one of the youngest detainees in Guantánamo history, is sharing his story. (Read more here)