Democracynow.org – British resident Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars. Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon kept him locked up without charge. During his time in captivity, Aamer claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings and sleep deprivation. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer is en route to London where he’ll rejoin his wife and four children. “If you think about how much our world has changed, it is like they’re dropping them into a completely different place with very little support, and there’s no right to a remedy for the allegations of torture—which are absolutely credible—for the prolonged arbitrary detention and for any other violations that happened,” says our guest Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.
Below is a powerful new animated film, six minutes in length, which tells the story of the hunger strike at Guantánamo that began in February, and involved the majority of the 164 prisoners still held over the six-month period that followed. At its height, 46 prisoners were being force-fed, and even though just 17 prisoners are still taking part in the hunger strike, 16 of them are being force-fed. Force-feeding is a brutal process, condemned by the medical profession, but it is difficult to understand what is happening at Guantánamo because no images are available of prisoners being force-fed.
” …and if any one saved a life, it would be as if s/he saved the life of all mankind. …” (Qur’an 5:32)
“How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.” (Henry David Thoreau,1817-1862.)
On Tuesday,13th April, as British politicians travelled the country, promising a brave new world on Election day (6th May) a letter was delivered to the British Prime Minister’s residence, Number 10, Downing Street.
Over the last few years, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio and I have had some hard-hitting interviews, covering many of the most unpalatable aspects of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” and, in the last year, the inadequacy of Barack Obama’s response to this toxic and corrosive legacy.
On Tuesday evening, however, we hit a new pitch of outrage (the show is available here, when we discussed two aspects of this legacy that have just surfaced: the revelation, in a compelling article for Harper’s Magazine by Scott Horton (the law professor), that the three men who died at Guantánamo in June 2006 were killed, and that the suicide story was manufactured as a cover-up (which I also wrote about here); and my preliminary analysis of the first ever publicly available list of prisoners held in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, in which I investigated the stories of the “ghost prisoners” — previously held in a number of secret prisons run by the CIA — who have been held in Bagram for up to six years, and asked what happened to others who are not included in the list.
It’s hard to know where to begin with this profoundly important story by Scott Horton, for next month’s Harper’s Magazine (available on the web here), but let’s try this: The three “suicides” at Guantánamo in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men in question were killed during interrogations in a secretive block in Guantánamo, conducted by an unknown agency, and the murders were then disguised to look like suicides. Everyone at Guantánamo knew about it. Everyone covered it up. Everyone is still covering it up. Continue reading →
Last week, as I explained in a recent article, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was seized in Afghanistan in 2001 after traveling to Afghanistan with his friend Moazzam Begg (and their families) to establish a girls’ school in Kabul, won a significant victory in the British High Court. Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan ruled that evidence in the possession of the British government, regarding his torture in US custody in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before his transfer to Guantánamo, must be made available to lawyers working on his behalf in the United States, so that they can make representations to the Obama administration’s interagency Task Force, which is currently reviewing the cases of the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, and is expected to reach a decision sometime next month.
Reprieve, the legal action charity whose lawyers represent dozens of prisoners still held at Guantánamo, won a court victory last Tuesday, in the case of the British resident Shaker Aamer, which appears to draw on the organization’s success in securing a judicial review in the case of another of their clients, Binyam Mohamed. Initiated in May 2008, this led, eventually, to a fast-track review of Mohamed’s case by the Obama administration, and his return to the UK in February this year.
The key to the pressure exerted by Reprieve is torture, and, specifically, what the British government knew about the torture of both men while in US custody. Mohamed’s case is well-known, as he was rendered to Morocco by the CIA in July 2002, three months after his capture in Pakistan, where he was reportedly subjected to torture for 18 months.