A new petition has been put together calling on the Canadian government to release Omar Khadr and seeking his reintegration into Canadian society: sign here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/omar-khadr-takeastandforjustice/
This reversal of a Guantánamo military tribunal conviction follows that of Salim Hamdan, which was overturned in October 2012, as the offence of “providing material support for terrorism” did not exist at the time of the actual offence. The US government had until 18 January to appeal this decision, but did not. The question of whether the judgment in the Hamdan case could apply to other cases was one of the issues considered in the Al-Bahlul case.
At the end of January, the cases of five men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 resumed at Guantánamo Bay. Although still at pre-trial stage, the key Hamdan ruling has also had an impact on this case. Anticipating the possible overturning of the conviction for conspiracy, which is not considered a war crime, the chief prosecutor in this case Brigadier General Mark Martins asked for the conspiracy charges against the five defendants in the case to be dismissed and for them not to be tried on this count. Although dismissing these charges could undermine the rest of the case, following the judgment in the Hamdan case, a conviction for conspiracy could be appealed and later result in the case, and a conviction made, being thrown out. The five defendants potentially face the death penalty. This request was turned down by the Pentagon. Undeterred, however, Mark Martins has applied again, following the reversal of the Al-Bahlul conviction, which saw a conviction for conspiracy overturned. This has led to a public dispute between the prosecutor it appointed and the Pentagon over whether the US can charge terrorism suspects with offences that are not considered as such under international law. An excellent comment on this in the New York Times:
The pre-trial hearings resumed on 28 January. The defendants attended the first day, during which controversy arose after audio to observers at the hearing was cut for three minutes after one of the defence lawyers representing the five prisoners asked if the court needed to meet in secret closed session to discuss some matters, raising questions about whether there is external censorship of the proceedings unknown to those in court: http://rt.com/usa/news/sound-cut-september-11-992/ Pre-trials motions will be discussed all of this week, including a motion by the defence to have the black site secret prisons the five men were held at in various locations around the world, including within the European Union, preserved as evidence.
In the US, the re-inauguration was marred by controversy when at a party to celebrate the inauguration, famous US rap star Lupe Fiasco openly criticised President Obama on his poor first-term record on foreign relations, particularly with respect to war and the Palestinians: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ewU8xoDVY
In the UK, veteran peace campaigner Lindis Percy from the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) was arrested outside the US military base at Menwith Hill for holding up an upside down US flag with the words ‘NOW THEN….SECOND AND ONLY CHANCE OBAMA’
http://www.caab.org.uk/about/caab-reports Ms Percy has been bailed but not charged.
Barely weeks into his second term, President Obama has continued to show his resolve not to close Guantánamo by closing the office of the special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo Bay. Daniel Fried, who has held the post since it was created in 2009 early on in President Obama’s first term, has been re-assigned to another office and the office he was responsible for has closed. Its duties, which including working out diplomatic agreements for the transfer of prisoners, have been reassigned to the office of the State Department’s legal adviser. The removal of a senior official responsible for this task almost immediately into President Obama’s second term shows that the issue is no longer of priority to his administration, in spite of his verbal statements that he would still like to see Guantánamo Bay close: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/us/politics/state-dept-closes-office-working-on-closing-guantanamo-prison.html
To coincide with the anniversary, Aisha Maniar and Val Brown from the LGC gave interviews to Russia Today:
Media coverage of the tours and vigil:
Coverage of the tours:
Photographs of Shaker Aamer tour: http://www.demotix.com/news/1719753/walks-shame-follow-rendition-routes-guantanamo#media-1719592
Val Brown leading the Omar Khadr tour shot footage of readings from outside each of the embassies the tour visited:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z6D1ElFqOA (Afghan Embassy)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIGEZREpkqg (Spanish Embassy)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUUUfn-JAXE (Portuguese Embassy)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dwq5kqmQFcM (Canadian Embassy)
Around 70 people braved the cold weather and joined the vigil in the evening outside the US Embassy:
Video report: http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=9498
News reports: http://www.wespeaknews.com/politics/candelight-vigil-to-mark-11-years-of-guantanamo-134196.html
Photo reportage: http://www.demotix.com/news/1724834/vigil-outside-us-embassy-london-11th-anniversary-guant-namo#media-1724456
Pictures from protests around the world: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/11/3177614/photo-gallery-01-11-095943.html
Messages of support read outside the US Embassy:
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavillion and Hove): “There is no excuse for the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay or the ongoing detention of British residents such as Shaker Aamer. The Green Party calls on President Obama to keep his promise and end what is a stain on America’s reputation globally.”
Green London MEP Jean Lambert: "11 years too long! Guantanamo Bay must close, and all remaining detainees charged with crimes or allowed to return home."
Lib Dem London MEP Sarah Ludford: "“Barack Obama must finally in his second term fulfil his promise of closing the disgraceful legal black hole of Guantanamo and rebuild the US’ human rights reputation. In any case, my constituent Shaker Aamer must return home to his family in London after 11 years of totally illegal incarceration.”