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.

British government covering up Bahrain scandal


This video says about itself:

‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain’ – human rights activist

21 October 2013

In an Arab world swept away by revolutions and wars, few states have remained intact. And at what cost? Bahrain has seen protests, arrests and crackdowns on the opposition. Does stability necessarily mean political oppression in the Middle East? Why is Bahrain’s trouble off international media’s radar? We talk to human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of Bahrain’s renowned dissident, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is now in jail.

From Reuters news agency:

Thu May 21, 2015 7:31pm BST

Classified document on Bahrain rankles Britain decades later

By Noah Browning

DUBAI – A legal battle between an activist group and Britain over a decades-old diplomatic cable on Bahrain has exposed a thorny link between the UK’s colonial past and its new military ambitions in a region it once dominated.

The Foreign Office has told a court in London that a censored assessment by a colonial officer of the Gulf Arab island’s ruling Al Khalifa family may harm the UK’s relationship with Bahrain as it seeks to build a naval base there.

The installation will be Britain’s first permanent military presence in the Middle East since it withdrew from Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf region in 1971.

The court ruled at the end of April that more of the document, which is based partly on secret evidence by a top British diplomat, should be exposed, and the Foreign Office has 30 days to appeal.

The two-page report is a 1977 record of a talk between a British official and Ian Henderson, a senior British security chief who advised Bahrain for decades after its independence.

“What surprised me in our conversation was the gloomy view he took of the ability of the Al Khalifa to survive,” the official wrote. The rest of the typewritten paragraph is heavily blacked out.

Marc Owen Jones, a PhD student who brought the case on behalf of UK-based activist group Bahrain Watch, told Reuters he believes the censored parts disparage a living member of the ruling family.

The passages were classified “on the grounds that international relations could be damaged were it to be released. Those grounds still exist,” Edward Oakden, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director, argued in the case.

Bahraini authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

Oakden noted an accord in December to put a long standing UK naval presence in Bahrain on a permanent footing at the Gulf state’s expense, and said disclosing more of the paper could also harm British efforts to reform Bahrain’s security forces.

BULWARK

The move is part of a modest expansion of British military readiness in the region. In 2013 the Royal Air Force established an air transport and refuelling hub in the United Arab Emirates.

Home to the United States’ Fifth Fleet, Bahrain is a strategic bulwark for Western interest in the energy-rich Gulf.

“Western countries seek good relations with Gulf States for defence reasons and also economic reasons,” said Jane Kinninmont, a Middle East expert at London’s Chatham House think tank. She cited rapidly increasing defence budgets in the Gulf that are partly earmarked to buy Western arms.

“The case shows how alive the history of British colonial rule still is in the Gulf today,” she added.

Britain first signed a treaty with the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family in Bahrain in 1820 and their relationship has remained strong for decades after the end of its protectorate.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa skipped a Gulf Arab summit with U.S. President Barack Obama last week and instead joined the Queen for a horse show and to discuss bilateral relations with her.

The kingdom has been buffeted by protests from its Shi’ite majority since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which were put down with help from Saudi Arabia. But unrest within the Shi’ite community stretches back to Henderson’s mandate and before.

Bahrain has denied accusations of torture and political repression by human rights groups, saying it has implemented reforms and greater transparency for its security forces …

Ala’a Shehabi, co-founder of Bahrain Watch, said Britain was putting security interests above resolving historic wrongs in Bahrain, adding that the group will seek to declassify more of the country’s colonial archives on Bahrain.

(The story was refiled to correct typos in ‘respond’ in paragraph 9 and ‘of’ in paragraph 14)

(Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)

SNP, stop Cameron’s fox hunting plans, petition


This video from Britain says about itself:

21 May 2015

*SIGN HERE TO KEEP THE BAN*

There is no rational or logical reason to chase a fox until it is too exhausted to flee for it’s life. Getting thrills from seeing an innocent animal get ripped apart by hounds is absolutely barbaric.

There are 317,056 supporters so far, keep it going and share the petition to save foxes from this unnecessary torment.

From Change.org in Britain:

Important petition asking SNP NOT to abstain when the vote takes place on whether the UK’s hunting ban should be repealed

John Fitzgerald, Kilkenny, Ireland

May 17, 2015 — With the UK ban on cruel hunt practices under threat, here is a very important petition asking the Scottish National Party (SNP) NOT to abstain on any vote called by Prime Minister Cameron to overturn the blood sports ban in Britain.

The SNP MPs could make the difference between the ban remaining in force and the unthinkable return of fox hunting, hare coursing, and stag hunting to Britain. Please sign this here.