Friday, May 27, 2011


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Trafalgar Square, London
Sunday 26 June 2011, 2-4pm

“This is a day on which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable. This is an occasion for the world to speak up against the unspeakable.” Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

Speakers include:
Andy Worthington, journalist
Ilyas Townsend, Justice for Aafia Coalition
Maria Gallestegui, Peace Strike
Naomi Colvin, UK Friends of Bradley Manning
Maya Evans, Justice Not Vengeance
And speakers from Amnesty International, Stop the War, International Committee Against Disappearances, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and others

Since 1998, June 26th has marked International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. In spite of laws to protect freedoms, torture remains prevalent throughout the world. Men, women, children and entire communities are subject to unspeakable atrocities and the effects that live with them long after the violence ends. We invite you to come and stand up against these atrocities, and join us in solidarity with the victims.

Organised by the London Guantánamo Campaign
and Kingston CND

For more details, e-mail: or
Or call Aisha 07809 757 176/ Noel 020 8395 2656

LGC Newsletter - May 2011

Guantánamo Bay:
The US administration is currently considering whether to allow some of the 171 prisoners remaining at Guantánamo Bay to have family visits. Currently, through the International Red Cross, some prisoners are able to have telephone calls and video links to their families. The scheme would only apply to some prisoners, mainly those, such as Guantánamo’s large Yemeni contingent, who are free to leave but do not have a safe country to go to. Republicans in the US Congress are trying to block the plan as it could cause “security concerns” for the US. The plan itself indicates that after almost 10 years of illegal incarceration, there are no plans in the near future for the release of prisoners.

Another prisoner has died at Guantánamo Bay in another alleged “suicide”. On 18 May, Inayatullah, a 37-year old Afghan prisoner was found dead in the recreation ground by military guards. The cause of death has not been established. He is the second prisoner to die at Guantánamo Bay this year and the eighth in total. One of the last prisoners to arrive, in 2007, he has never been charged with any crime.

A former Algerian prisoner, released to France on humanitarian grounds as he cannot return to Algeria, is set to sue George Bush for 8 years of illegal imprisonment at Guantánamo. Saber Lahmer, 42, was arrested by CIA agents in Bosnia in 2001, where he worked and lived. He was held at Guantánamo for the next eight years where he was tortured and was released in 2009, after a habeas ruling proved that allegations against him were unfounded. He plans to sue through the French courts.

A review petition brought by Omar Khadr, prior to his guilty plea in October last year, was rejected by the US Supreme Court. The review included claims by around 100 prisoners to have parts of their cases reviewed and to ensure that they have at least 30 days’ notice before they are transferred to other countries to prevent them being sent to countries where they may be at risk. The 30 days’ notice was rejected and Khadr could not have his case reviewed as he had waived this right under the plea bargain he made in October 2010. However, Omar Khadr will find out in June if his clemency plea, brought a few months ago, has been accepted, which could see his prison sentence being halved to four years.

Extraordinary rendition:
A case brought against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a division of Boeing, by five victims of extraordinary rendition, including British residents Bisher Al-Rawi and Binyam Mohamed, for having organised the flight plans at the various stages of their torture ordeal, was back in the courts this month. The case, brought in 2008, was dismissed as the Bush and then the Obama administrations used the state secrets privilege, citing national security as a concern, to prevent any secrets involving illegal behaviour by the intelligence agencies coming to light, making it impossible for the case to be heard. Following the case being dismissed by the appeal courts, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought it before the Supreme Court to consider whether or not the government could rely on the state secrets privilege to prevent the case being heard. The Supreme Court said that the government could rely on it and effectively prevented the case being heard.
Amnesty International has produced the following document about the ruling:

A group of Polish and international human rights NGOs are calling on Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to raise the issue of CIA secret prisons in the country and to cooperate in providing information when the two men meet as part of President Obama’s on-going visit to Europe:

LGC Activities:
Four people attended the May Shut Down Guantánamo! demonstration. This month’s demonstration is on Friday 3 June at 12-1pm outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, Mayfair and 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker’s Corner (Marble Arch, Hyde Park).!/event.php?eid=215457011811523

Various events took place in the UK concerning Guantánamo Bay and prisoners held there to coincide with President Obama’s first state visit on 24-26 May. Amnesty International sent the following letter to Prime Minister David Cameron on 20 May asking for him to raise Shaker Aamer’s case personally with President Barack Obama:
On the day before the visit, Monday 23 May, Maria Gallestegui from Peace Strike delivered a petition to Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister to raise the cases of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha and call for the closure of Guantánamo. On the first day of the visit, activists from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, the London Guantánamo Campaign and others greeted Obama outside Buckingham Palace with a colourful demonstration:
On the second day of the visit, the London Guantánamo Campaign and Peace Strike continued the protest outside Parliament with a six-hour long vigil calling for Guantánamo’s closure.
The London Guantánamo Campaign also sent a letter to the Guardian and Independent newspapers for publication on the first day of the visit, which was overlooked. It was signed by over 50 individuals and organisations, including former prisoners, politicians and leading lawyers:
The London Guantánamo Campaign also had the following comment piece published in Open Democracy expressing what we believe the British government should now be doing and telling the US government:

If you have not yet added your name to the open letter to President Obama about Shaker Aamer, please do:

If you have not yet asked your MP to sign EDM 1093 on Guantánamo Bay, we urge you to do so:

The London Guantánamo Campaign and Kingston CND will be organising a rally in Trafalgar Square on 26 June to mark international day in support of victims of torture. We hope you can join us:!/event.php?eid=225756180784961

Photos courtesy of Peace Strike and Radfax

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unpublished letters from Obama's visit to the UK

With its focus on the dress sense of Mrs Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge, the media quite literally skirted around important issues of joint US-UK concern, such as Guantánamo Bay, when US President Barack Obama visited London on his first official state visit on 24-26 May.

The following letter sent to the Guardian and Independent newspapers and signed by over 50 prominent individuals, including former Guantánamo prisoners, politicians and leading lawyers, as well as organisations, was overlooked for publication:

President Obama’s visit to the UK offers this government a unique opportunity to demand the closure of Guantánamo Bay and the release and return to this country of two men still held there with links to the UK. Ahmed Belbacha, who formerly resided in the UK, was cleared for release over four years ago and is at risk of forced return to Algeria, where his life would be in danger. UK resident Shaker Aamer, who has a British wife and children, has been imprisoned without charge for close to a decade. The latter's case has been raised with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by William Hague and Nick Clegg, but apparently to no avail.

The time has come for David Cameron to take an unequivocal stand by addressing these issues head on with the US president during his visit to the UK.

Signed: Daniel Viesnik, London Guantánamo Campaign; Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London; Bruce Kent; Louise Christian, Christian Khan Solicitors; Andy Worthington; Ray Silk, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign; John Pilger; Sarah Ludford, Lib Dem MEP for London; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; John McDonnell MP; Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, Bindmans LLP; Ruhul Ahmed and Tarek Dergoul, former Guantánamo prisoners; Kika Markham; Omar Deghayes, Legal Director, Guantánamo Justice Centre; Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Professor Bill Bowring, Research Fellow, University of Essex; Natalia Garcia, Tyndallwoods Solicitors; Tayab Ali, Irvine Thanvi Natas Solicitors; Liz Davies, barrister and Chair of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers; Anjum Anwar, Dialogue Development Officer, Blackburn Cathedral; Professor Mark McGovern, Department of Social and Psychological Sciences, Edge Hill University; Faisal Hanjra, Assistant Secretary General, MuslimCouncil of Britain; Sultan Sabri, Surrey Solicitors; Salma Yaqoob; Lord Ahmed of Rotherham; Councillor Jonathan Bloch Lib Dem Councillor for Muswell Hill, London Borough of Haringey; Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities; Maryam Hassan, Justice for Aafia Coalition; Richard Haley, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities; Katherine Craig, Christian Khan Solicitors; Sarah McSherry, Christian Khan Solicitors; Maria Gallastegui, Peace Strike; Darren Johnson, Green London Assembly Member; Millius Palayiwa, Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, England; Chris Coverdale, Campaign to Make Wars History; Dr Shahrar Ali, Green Party; Simon Moore; Anita Olivacce; David Polden; Chris Cole; Noel Hamel, Kingston Peace Council; Joy Hurcombe, Brighton Against Guantanamo; Frances Webber, vice-chair Institute of Race Relations; Maya Evans; Milan Rai, Co-editor, Peace News; Sam Walton; Ismail Patel, Chair, Friends of Al-Aqsa

The following comment piece requested by the London Evening Standard newspaper was also unpublished:

Despite the great hopes of the international community following President Obama’s election to the most powerful office in the world, the Nobel peace prize winner has shown through his actions his intention to continue where his predecessor left off, dispensing with the inconveniences of international law at will. From “extraordinary rendition”, torture and indefinite imprisonment without charge in legal black holes like Guantánamo Bay and Bagram to extrajudicial executions, Obama has demonstrated the futility of hope in a genuine alternative to the reactionary tendencies of the American political elite. If Bush tarnished the standing of the United States in the world, Obama’s administration has done little or nothing to repair that damage.So, as human rights campaigners, we struggle instead for small victories, like the return to the UK of British resident Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha, previously resident in England and whose life would be at risk if returned to his native Algeria. Neither man has been charged with any crime after almost a decade of incarceration in Guantánamo. The very least the Prime Minister can do when he meets Obama this week is ask for the swift return of the two men to the UK.
Daniel Viesnik, London Guantánamo Campaign

Monday, May 23, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Campaigners urge Prime Minister to press President Obama on Guantánamo during UK visit

To coincide with the first UK state visit of President Obama, supporters of the London Guantánamo Campaign [1] sporting orange jumpsuits will join a demonstration outside Buckingham Palace, organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, [2] on Tuesday 24 May, from 5pm, to demand the closure of Guantánamo Bay and the swift return to the UK of prisoners Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha.

Daniel Viesnik, speaking on behalf of the London Guantánamo Campaign, said: “Obama’s visit to the UK offers the Prime Minister a unique opportunity to demand and facilitate the rapid closure of Guantánamo Bay, and the release and return to the UK of two remaining prisoners with links to this country, namely British resident Shaker Aamer [3] and Ahmed Belbacha [4], who has previously resided in the UK.

“We understand that the Foreign Secretary, William Hague will once again discuss Shaker Aamer’s case with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the President’s visit. [5] Whilst we warmly welcome this, we also call upon the Prime Minister to raise our concerns with President Obama himself.

“In addition, we should follow the example of other European countries that have, on humanitarian grounds, accepted individuals who are not nationals or former residents, but are in a similar plight to Ahmed Belbacha: cleared for release but unable to return to their country of origin out of fears for their safety.

“The release of men like Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha and the closure of legal black holes like Guantánamo Bay are long overdue.”


Notes to the 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.


[3] UK resident and Saudi national Shaker Aamer, who has a British wife and children living in London, has been imprisoned without charge for close to a decade. His case was raised with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during recent visits to the US by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but with no clear signs of progress.

Further information:

[4] Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national, lived in England for two and a half years whilst seeking asylum. He was cleared for release from Guantánamo in February 2007 and is at risk of forced return to Algeria at any time, where his life and liberty would be in grave danger.

Further information:


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

LGC Action alert: David Cameron must demand Shaker Aamer’s release and closure of Guantánamo during Obama’s visit to UK (24-26 May)‏

Action alert: Write to the Prime Minister: David Cameron must demand Shaker Aamer’s release and the closure of Guantánamo Bay during President Obama’s visit to the UK (24-26 May)

US President Barack Obama will pay an official visit to the UK on 24-26 May. Over the past year, Shaker Aamer’s case has been raised by both Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Following the recent disclosure of prisoner files from Guantánamo Bay through Wikileaks, the government has said that Mr Hague will again raise Shaker Aamer’s case with Mrs Clinton when she accompanies Barack Obama on his visit. Gordon Brown’s government first sought his return to the UK in 2007, along with that of four other men who have since returned. Why Shaker Aamer remains at Guantánamo Bay is unclear.

The London Guantánamo Campaign believes that President Obama’s visit is an ideal opportunity for Prime Minister David Cameron to raise Shaker Aamer’s case at the highest level, to demand his release and positive action, not backtracking, by the US president to close Guantánamo Bay and release all prisoners to safety. Recent disclosures and reports show that there are no grounds, moral, legal or otherwise, for the existence of Guantánamo Bay and instead it poses a security risk to both those detained within and those outside of it. Cameron and Obama must not waste this opportunity to bring Shaker Aamer back to the UK and discuss options and actions that lead to the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay almost a decade too late.

TAKE ACTION: Write to the Prime Minister:
Write a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, raising some of the issues above and others or using our model letter below, to demand the release of Shaker Aamer, whom the government claims is the last lawful British resident in Guantánamo Bay, and the closure of the prison in talks with President Obama.
Send a copy to your MP (find them at
You can write to the Prime Minister at:
10 Downing Street,
And e-mail him via:

LGC model letter (can be copy/pasted or adapted):

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am writing to you concerning your forthcoming meeting with President Barack Obama when he visits the UK later this month. President Obama has recently reneged on his promise to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, and has reverted to the dubious practices of his predecessor by authorising the resumption of trial by military commission, and signing an executive order to continue the indefinite detention of several dozen prisoners.

Both the previous UK government and your own have stated a wish to see the prison at Guantánamo closed. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “the UK believes that the indefinite detention of detainees is unacceptable and we have repeatedly called for Guantánamo Bay to be closed”. These calls have clearly fallen on deaf ears.

Shaker Aamer, a British resident whose wife and children are British citizens, remains in illegal imprisonment at Guantánamo, with no apparent explanation for his continued detention. Both William Hague and Nick Clegg have raised the matter of his repatriation to the UK with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “these discussions continue at a senior level” and the BBC reports that Mr Hague will raise this matter again with Mrs Clinton when she accompanies President Obama.

However, as heads of state, surely the time has come for you, as Prime Minister, to address these issues head on with President Obama during his forthcoming visit, to obtain the release of Mr Aamer, and the closure of Guantánamo Bay.