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2 I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS Passion Islam I March 2009
the Passion
By Moazzam Begg
The Forgotten Prisoner
Perhaps the most heart-breaking how the torture meted out before Guantánamo. Bringing Aamer home
thing a child whose father is in prison and during our incarceration in tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough.”
will ever have to do is to explain to Guantánamo has become a source Aamer has never been designated
his – or her – classmates why daddy of altercation and unease between for trial by military commission and
never comes to collect him from two of the world’s closest allies, there is no intention to prosecute him.
school. The very mention that daddy especially through the case of Binyam He has lost more than half his body
is in jail will, at least in some cases, Mohamed, who is now finally being weight due to several hunger strikes
elicit the puerile jeering and mockery returned to his place of residence in he has participated in, agitating for
expected in any school playground. the UK. Having been subjected to better conditions and the right to
Society – schools included – tells us some truly horrific torture, Mohamed be charged and tried – or released.
that people in prison must be bad. undoubtedly deserves to be afforded But ultimately, Aamer is a father
That may be the case for those found the dignity of rehabilitation and and a husband who simply wants
guilty of heinous crimes. But, how reintegration into normal life. If this is to come home. Zachary Katznelson
does a seven-year-old – who has true in the case of Mohamed, then it from Reprieve, on organisation that
never seen his father, except through is even more so in the case of Aamer legally represents a large number of
old photographs his tormented mother and his family. the men still in Guantánamo said:
shows him – explain to his peers the Aamer was a very well-known and “Shaker’s primal concern has always
iniquitous nature of the removal of liked person among his community; been about his family: how he could
habeas corpus? How does he argue he left an indelible impression on return to being a father again, how
his father’s case when he doesn’t most of the people who met and he could return to being a husband
even know what a father is? How will conversed with him. He is faithful, again.”
he explain all this to his classmates brave, charismatic, kind, polite and Aamer’s wife has been
when we cannot even explain it to full of life. All of us in Guantánamo hospitalised a number of times due
adults? This – and much more – is knew his qualities, including the men to the terrible strain his absence has
what one chid and his three older guarding us. placed upon her and her children.
siblings in London have experienced Terry Holdbrooks, one of Aamer’s Her words haunt all who know his
daily since the incarceration of their guards, serving in a military police case:
father more than seven years ago. unit from 2003-04 in Guantánamo,
Since the early 90s, Shaker said about him: “He’s a wonderful Your disappearance isn’t natural
Aamer had resided in the UK, where character – unbelievably intelligent, Is that what was written in my fate?
he worked as a translator at a legal very polite, very well-mannered, What kind of departure was it?
firm and later met his wife. In the great etiquette … no matter whom Your commemoration in my mind
summer of 2001, Aamer made the the guard was he was working with
decision to live and work in Pakistan – whether it was a very ignorant Faaris Aamer, the child who has
and Afghanistan, along with his wife uncaring American with no recognition yet to meet his father, still patiently
and children, to undertake projects to for his situation or me … He was awaits the day that the man in the
support a girls’ school and build wells. a wonderful person – I absolutely photographs he sees holding his
Shortly after the US-led invasion of enjoyed spending time with him.” older sister and brothers – Juhayna
Afghanistan, Aamer, it is believed, There has been some confusion (12), Mish’al (10) and Abdur-Rahman
like hundreds of others, was sold for as to where Aamer should be sent (9) – all those years ago, walks
a bounty of $5,000 by tribal warlords to since he was cleared for release through the door and finally says,
eager to receive the lucrative rewards and transfer over a year ago. The “As-salaamu alaikum kids – I’m your
offered for foreign Muslims by the US Americans wanted to send him to father. I’m home.”
military. His family managed to return Saudi Arabia, since he is a citizen It is high time Aamer came
safely to the UK, but Aamer was sent of that country, but he has leave to home.
to a series of secret prisons and remain in the UK and his family are all On behalf of the family of Shaker
eventually to Guantánamo Bay. here. His UK lawyer, Gareth Peirce, Aamer and former Guantánamo
Guantánamo has become a commented: “He’s not charged with prisoners: Shafiq Rasul, Ruhel
major embarrassment for the US anything. Where is the problem? Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Tarek Dergoul,
administration, and President Barack His family’s all in the UK and the Jamal al-Harith, Richard Belmar,
Obama’s call to close the place UK has accepted that it has called Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbassi,
– along with the CIA detention sites for his return here. The new US Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil Elbanna, Omar
– is welcome. We have already seen administration wants to close down Deghayes and Abdenour Sameur
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