SSAC Protest at Parliament Square 11th June 2012


SSAC's protest at Parliament Square last Monday 11th June was highly visible to MPs returning to Parliament. The protest involved the use of large 'boards' displaying ancient laws (Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus) and Free Shaker Aamer, Close Guantanamo & Bagram and all US illegal and secret prisons banners and placards were displayed. Campaigners weathered the continual downpour, raised their voices loud and clear calling for Shaker's immediate release. A committed turnout of supporters were determined to get their message across to MPs - the UK Goverrnment should be doing far more to bring about Shaker Aamer's release and return to his family in London - and all were dressed in black hoods and orange 'prison' jumpsuits. MPs sent messages of support and Shaker's own MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) joined the protest and immediately commented on how impressed she was with the campaign's commitment. She spoke to supporters giving words of encouragement. The protest hit the front page of at least one supportive UK daily newspaper.

One website commented "
....stalwart supporters of the Free Shaker Aamer campaign turned up at lunchtime on Parliament Square opposite the Houses of Parliament as MPs were returning for business to remind them that British resident Shaker Aamer is still held after more than ten years in Guantanamo Bay. Although he has been cleared for release for some time, and is was an innocent tourist who had the misfortune to be visiting Afghanistan at the wrong time, he is still held there. Both Labour and coalition governments have made requests for his release, although perhaps with little conviction as the evidence he might give about his torture at Bagram and Guantanamo and that of other detainees and the possible involvement of British intelligence services could be extremely embarrassing both to the US and the UK governments.  At various times around a hundred current MPs (as well as a number who lost there seats in the last election) have given their support to the campaign for his release. Among those most involved is the Conservative MP for Battersea Jane Ellison, in whose constituency Aamer's wife and family live, and she visited the protest to give her support and discuss how further action should best be taken to get the US authorities to release him. The protest took place alongside that of the Parliament Square Peace Campaign, started by Brian Haw in 2001 and now continued after his death by Barbara Tucker and others. The [Save Shaker Aamer Campaign] protesters had large posters with relevant text from Magna Carta as well as the definition of Habeas Corpus to remind the MPs of our tradition and laws, and they chanted loudly as MPs drove or rode on bicycle into the Houses of Parliament, reminding them of Magna Carta and the need to free Shaker Aamer. It was cold and wet, and by the time I left after almost two hours many of the placards were soaked and peeling off from the boards, but the protest continued unabated."