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2 I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS Passion Islam I September 2009
t h e Passion - By Moazzam Begg
Aamer’s long wait for justice
Shaker Aamer has never been charged with a crime, or given a
date for trial. But still he languishes in Guantánamo
Imagine, gathered under one roof, over instructed the expressly set up Detainee
a dozen men who were once regarded Review Task Force to re-examine the
as the most dangerous people on the cases of all of the prisoners in order to
planet – and a man who once guarded help determine who might be charged
them, breaking their Ramadan fast with crimes in the US justice system
together with lords and baronesses, and which ones should be repatriated
poets and writers, activists and or transferred to other countries. But
lawyers and students and children on a even after this process Shaker Aamer
summer’s eve in London’s Kensington faces no charges.
area – in its town hall to be exact. This Among the people released this
is precisely what happened at the year was Mohammed Jawad, a 20-year
just how deeply British complicity
“Beyond Guantánamo” fundraising old Afghan who was held as a captive
into torture had reached. As a result,
event hosted by Cageprisoners. since the age of 12 and, a 22-year old
Scotland Yard began an unprecedented
Among the five hundred or more Chadian, Mohammed al-Gharani, who
criminal investigation against MI5.
attendees were the wife and children came to Guantánamo at the age of 14.
Shortly after his release, Binyam told
of Shaker Aamer, a man held captive The latter was taken under the wing of me he’d thought Shaker was coming
without charge in Guantánamo for eight Shaker Aamer who looked to him like a back with him too. Instead, Shaker
years. Shaker’s wife gave me a copy of little brother – or a son. When I spoke remained incarcerated and was
the latest letter she received from her to him earlier this week al-Gharani told allegedly regularly mistreated due to
husband – over a year ago – part of me: his constant advocacy for prisoners’
which I read to the audience: Shaker took a special interest in rights and his refusal to accept any
Yes I lost a lot of weight, yes I have the younger Gitmo prisoners and was legitimacy of his imprisonment. In
a lot of sicknesses, yes I’ve got short like a father to us. He taught me to be June this year Shaker’s lawyer, Brent
sight, yes my bones are aching, yes patient and I benefitted from him so Mickum, went to see his client but was
I got white hair, yes I got old, but my much. Once, after a particularly harsh told that Shaker refused to see him. It
heart is still young, my mind still strong interrogation I returned to my cell is alleged that a squad of guards in riot
– a lot stronger than ever. My soul’s got exhausted and depressed. Through gear had forcibly entered Shaker’s cell
the biggest wings to fly and help others his words, Shaker took me away from and severely beaten him, allegedly for
to fly. I am a lot wiser, a lot [more] that place – away from the cages and refusing to take down a shirt he’d hung
patient, a lot [more] knowledgeable, a chains and screams and into his world, up. After that his clothes were allegedly
lot [more] merciful, a lot [more] loving telling me about his family and his life forcibly removed and he was left with
and caring, a lot [more] helpful. I feel before Gitmo, making me forget my nothing to wear.
I can change the world to be a better torturous surroundings ... This coincided with the time of
place. I feel I can restore justice so
his legal visit which Shaker did not
we can have peace and love amongst Why is the case of Shaker Aamer so
attend. Another prisoner explained to
each other. difficult to resolve?
his lawyer why he thought that was:
And what crime has Shaker In 2007 the UK government officially
“What, did you expect him to show up
committed for which both he and his called for the return of Omar Deghyaes,
to an attorney meeting in his birthday
family are paying such an astronomical Jamil el-Banna, Abdenour Sameur,
suit?”
price? Binyam Mohamed and Shaker Aamer.
Shaker Aamer, who is now 42,
Of 775 prisoners once held in The former three were returned soon
maintains that at least one British
Guantánamo approximately 530, after that, but Binyam had to wait
intelligence officer was present while
including myself, have been released another two years. Believing he was
his head was allegedly repeatedly hit
without charge – including two senior also returning, Shaker’s wife and
against a cell wall during interrogation
Taliban ministers. Shaker Aamer, even children prepared a welcome-back
in 2002 at Bagram air base in
by the ludicrously low standards of proof party for him. I remember how overjoyed
Afghanistan. Perhaps there’s more
required by the military commissions the children were at the prospect of
to this allegation – more that some
process, has never been charged with meeting a father they’d known only
people don’t want released in public.
a crime and, in eight years, has never through photographs – much like my
Perhaps one criminal investigation
been designated for trial. As one of own children had many years ago. But
of our intelligence services is quite
his first acts as US President Barak it was to be a cruel wait in vain.
enough.
Obama ordered an end to torture, an Binyam Mohamed was released
Perhaps that’s why Shaker Aamer
end to secret detention and the closure earlier this year under an eruption
is not being reunited with his wife and
of Guantanamo within a year. He also of embarrassing facts that showed
young children.
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