PRESS RELEASE: 100,000 Call for the Release of Last Briton in Guantanamo
12 April 2013
Over 100,000 people in Britain have signed an official e-petition urging the government to demand the immediate release of the last British detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer. The issue has now become eligible to be listed for a parliamentary debate.
Shaker - whose wife and four children are British nationals - is now in the eleventh year of his detention despite being cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007 and the Obama administration in 2010. He is amongst more than 160 prisoners, currently on hunger strike in protest at their ongoing detention and is reported to have lost 32lbs in the past two months.
Irene Nembhard of Birnberg Peirce and Partners, representing the family, said:
“Shaker’s family hopes that a debate in the House of Commons will galvanise the government into making the strongest demand for Shaker’s immediate release, including making an interstate complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture. As a British family, they expect that their Government will do everything possible to bring their husband and father home to them.”
Shaker’s wife, Zinnira Aamer, stated:
“My eyes are filled with tears as I write this - but this time they are tears of joy. We are so relieved and overjoyed that the petition for Shaker Aamer has reached its target of 100,000 signatures before its deadline. Shaker will be very pleased to know that we made it till here as it is another step forward towards his freedom.”
Their children, in a brief statement, added, “We couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you. Thanks to all 100,000 people who signed and showed support regardless of race and religion. We wish you all happiness and let’s hope that our Dad will be home soon so we can be happy too.”
Constituency MEP for London, Baroness Sarah Ludford commented:
“It is simply unacceptable that although Shaker was cleared for release in 2007, he has yet to be allowed back home. As constituency MEP for London, I believe that Shaker Aamer and his family have suffered enough – it is time for the last Londoner in Guantanamo to be brought home. It is high time that this issue is debated by MPs and now that the petition has received the support of 100,000 people I call on the Backbench Business Committee to arrange in Parliament a debate as soon as possible. This will keep up the pressure on the UK Government to secure the return of Shaker Aamer to London without further delay. I will continue as an MEP and as vice-chair of the European Parliament delegation to the United States to push for the closure of Guantanamo.”
Comedian Frankie Boyle, who pledged £50,000 towards legal action for Mr Aamer, said:
"It's great that this injustice can finally be brought before parliament. Hopefully, this is the start of the process that sees him back at home, with his family. He certainly has done nothing to deserve 11 years without trial."
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Notes to Editors:
1. The e-petition can be viewed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33133. The petition will close on 20th April 2013.
2. Individuals and organisations who have actively supported the campaign for Mr Aamer’s freedom include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Baroness Sarah Ludford, the Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP, Martin Linton MP, George Galloway MP, Jean Lambert MEP, Frankie Boyle, Victoria Brittain, Clive Stafford Smith, Gerry Conlon, Kate Hudson (CND), Joanna Lumley, Bruce Kent, Vanessa Redgrave, Bianca Jagger, Helen Bamber and Terry Waite; Amnesty International UK, Reprieve, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC), Stop the War Coalition, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Close Guantanamo, London Guantanamo Campaign, Cageprisoners, Guantanamo Justice Centre, and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC).
3. Shaker Aamer is represented by Reprieve and Birnberg Peirce & Partners. For further information please visit www.saveshaker.org.