Thursday, March 31, 2011

LGC Newsletter – March 2011

LGC Newsletter – March 2011 NEWS: Guantánamo Bay: In early March, President Obama approved the resumption of military trials at Guantánamo Bay. Having pledged upon becoming president to close Guantánamo by early 2010 and allow civilian trials for prisoners, he has broken these promises and demonstrated that his administration has no intention to do either. Instead, he is keenly following the policies of his predecessor. In over nine years, only one prisoner has had a civilian trial. The shambolic trials held before military tribunals thus far, including that of child soldier Omar Khadr, have almost always resulted in plea bargains in which the defendant pleads guilty in return for a reduced sentence without any disclosure of any evidence against him or any real attempt to allow him to defend himself. The whole procedure is deeply unfair and flawed. Guilty pleas may arise as a result of the terms of the bargain, which are always kept secret, the possibility of early release, which often comes with conditions and does not ensure release at all, or the realisation that a fair trial at a Guantánamo Bay military court is impossible. Obama suspended the use of military trials on his first day as president when he signed an order for Guantánamo Bay to close by 22 January 2010. As well as lifting this suspension, he has now also signed an executive law to legalise the almost decade-long policy of indefinite arbitrary detention at Guantánamo Bay. Still expressing his verbal wish to see Guantánamo Bay close, his actions demonstrate otherwise. Amnesty International has issued the following relevant document: Extraordinary rendition: With the forthcoming Gibson Inquiry due to start proceedings soon, an inquiry whose stated aim is to “draw a line” under the past government’s policy of involvement in torture, new claims have emerged against the British government. A Kenyan national, accused of involvement in planning attacks in Uganda last year, was kidnapped and rendered to that country last summer, where he was held and tortured for two months, before being charged. He and his lawyers claimed that during that time he was questioned by an MI5 agent: At the same time, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has stated that the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence services, had never been told by the British government – or that it had a policy to this effect – not to use torture when interrogating British nationals. Several claims have been made against the British government by individuals, both British and foreign nationals, while held in Pakistan. Furthermore, this month, the Foreign Office published guidance for all Foreign Office staff overseas on how to report torture or mistreatment they become aware of: LGC Activities: Ten people attended the March Shut Down Guantánamo! Demonstration which was held in solidarity with American political and death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. The next demonstration is at 12-1pm on Friday 1 April outside the US Embassy, Mayfair and then from 1.15-2.15pm at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. This demonstration is in solidarity Bradley Manning, accused of illegally providing military information to Wikileaks. Please join us if you can. This month the LGC launched a new letter-writing campaign for Shaker Aamer: Each month we will send a letter to the American president signed by UK nationals and residents to the let the American government know that we would like Mr Aamer back. In over 9 years of imprisonment, he has faced no charges and is unlikely to face a military tribunal. It is unclear why the US refuses to release him. More than 100 people from all over the UK added their names to the letter in March – thank you very much! If you have not yet added yours, please e-mail the LGC to do so. The LGC now has a new website: at which we hope to update information about our campaigns and actions regularly. The LGC can also be followed at: and on Facebook:!/pages/London-Guant%C3%A1namo-Campaign/114010671973111

Friday, March 25, 2011

Press Release: Campaigners decry involvement of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib interrogation firms in UK Census

Press Release - Friday, 25 March 2011 - For immediate release

The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] is concerned about the involvement in the upcoming UK-wide Census of two private companies that were contracted to carry out coercive prisoner interrogations at the notorious US military detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Iraq. [2]

The latest ten-yearly Census will take place this weekend (27 March). It has drawn criticism from a range of peace and civil liberties campaigners opposed to the involvement of US-based military and intelligence agency contractors Lockheed Martin - one of the world’s largest military equipment manufacturers - and CACI - implicated in human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. Concerns have also been expressed about the intrusiveness of the questions and issues of data confidentiality. [3]

Daniel Viesnik, from the London Guantánamo Campaign, commented:

“Members of the public with valid concerns about excessive state intrusion into their personal lives, or who may feel under particular suspicion by virtue of their ethnic, religious or political background, will be wary of completing the Census. The involvement of two private companies associated with coercive interrogations and other intelligence gathering on behalf of the US authorities will do nothing to allay those concerns, and will understandably result in many individuals choosing not to co-operate.”


Notes to editor:
1. The London Guantánamo Campaign campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.

2. The UK subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, USA was awarded a £150M contract to provide data capture and processing support services for the 2011 Census in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The UK subsidiary of CACI, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA, was awarded an £18.5M contract to provide census printing and data capture services in support of the 2011 Census in Scotland.

Links to articles relating to Lockheed Martin’s involvement at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and CACI’s involvement at Abu Ghraib:

3. Further information on campaigns around the 2011 Census:
Lockheed Martin and the England and Wales, and Northern Ireland Census:

CACI and the Scotland Census:

Privacy and data confidentiality concerns:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Response from the FCO to LGC letter of 11 January 2011

On 11 January this year, as part of our actions to mark the ninth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay, the London Guantánamo Campaign (LGC) delivered a letter to the Prime Minister at Downing Street calling on the British government to take action over the closure of Guantánamo and to step up measures to see the illegal prison closed. The letter was signed by 75 individuals and representatives of organisations, including MEPs Baroness Sarah Ludford (Lib Dem) and Jean Lambert (Green) and MPs Caroline Lucas (Green) and John McDonnell (Labour). A short version of the letter was published in the Guardian newspaper on the same day. A further 200 signatures were collected on the same letter and posted to Downing Street later in the day during the LGC’s anniversary vigil.

We have now received a response to our letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which is woefully inadequate in view of the ongoing detention without trial or charge of over 170 men for over nine years. The letter simply reiterates the same cut-and-paste points this government and its predecessor have churned out in correspondence over the past several years without addressing the concerns raised by campaigners. Contrary to what Ms Wilson claims, unlike many of its European counterparts, the UK has failed to accept any prisoners with no ties to this country and has failed, after more than 9 years, to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, who has a British family and the legal right to remain in the UK. All other European states have managed to repatriate their nationals and residents. It is unfortunate that this government does not wish to follow the good example set by other European states and accept other prisoners.

At the same time, the Obama administration has now confirmed its plans to move ahead with sham trials through military commissions and the indefinite detention of over 40 prisoners. This comes as no surprise with Obama’s record of broken promises over Guantánamo Bay. However such news is no comfort for the prisoners whose present and future remain hostage to the whims of an extra-legal system of arbitrary detention and abuse. Like Obama’s oral assurances at the time, the British government must go beyond its statements and substantiate its commitment to the closure of Guantánamo Bay through actions, such as those demanded in our letter. The LGC will respond to the FCO and invites those who signed the original letter to respond as well.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sign our Open Letter to President Obama: Release Shaker Aamer

Open letter to President Obama from the British Public – We want Shaker Aamer back!

Please sign our open letter from the British public to the American president, demanding Shaker Aamer’s release from Guantánamo Bay and return to the UK.

Shaker Aamer is the last British resident held at Guantánamo Bay and has been held illegally without charge or trial for over nine years. As a result of organising prisoner protests, and standing up for his rights and those of his fellow prisoners, Shaker Aamer was held in continual solitary confinement for several years. He has never faced any charges, and the American government has never provided any explanation as to why it continues to hold him. According to a report in Harper's magazine in 2010, he was a witness to the murder of three prisoners who allegedly “committed suicide” in 2006.

172 prisoners remain at Guantánamo. The American government has no intention of closing the facility soon. The least it can do is allow Shaker Aamer to return to his family in the UK. The London Guantánamo Campaign asks all members of the British public, either in a personal capacity or as a representative of an organisation, political party, faith/social/political group, professional, etc. to sign our open letter to the American President Barack Obama demanding that he return Shaker Aamer to the United Kingdom immediately. Shaker Aamer’s reunion with his family, including the son he has never met, is already nine years too late.

If you would like to add your name to our open letter, which we will send to the American president at the end of each month with the list of signatories until we receive a favourable response, please send an e-mail with your name and town at least, and those of anyone else who wish to sign, to You can add the name of your organisation or group or any other information you wish to. The names of private individuals will be kept confidential.

Dear President Barack Obama,

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of the United Kingdom, write to you to urge you to release Shaker Aamer, a Saudi prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay for over nine years. Mr. Aamer is a legal resident of the United Kingdom and is married to a British woman with whom he has four children. We would like to see him returned immediately to his family in London.

Mr. Aamer has never been charged or tried and has been cleared for release. The British government does not deem him a threat and requested his return to this country in August 2007. This formal request was followed up recently by requests for his release made to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and Foreign Secretary William Hague. A recently leaked cable from the US Embassy in London also shows that in 2009, British diplomats addressed a request for his release to your ambassador, stating that he would not be prosecuted upon return to the UK. This, and all other requests, have been ignored.

All British residents and nationals who returned to the UK in 2005-2009 have reintegrated back into their communities and into normal, peaceful lives. A member of your diplomatic mission to Luxembourg recently commended one of our former prisoners, Moazzam Begg, for his efforts to close Guantánamo Bay.

Like you, Mr. Aamer is a father. For the past nine years, for reasons unknown to him, his family, or us, he has been denied the opportunity to watch his children grow up, including his youngest son whom he has never met. Mr. Aamer’s family has suffered considerably in his absence, the reasons for which your administration is not prepared to disclose. Ironically, while you to continue to deny him the right to return to his family in London, it is in the very same area that he lived for years, and in which his family still live, that the new embassy of the United States will be located.

We, the British people, would like to see Mr. Aamer return to his family and his community immediately. We urge you to make whatever preparations are necessary to make that happen as soon as is possible. Nine years later, without due process or explanation, we believe this is the most reasonable demand we can make of you.

We look forward to your positive response and welcoming Shaker Aamer back to our country.

London Guantánamo Campaign