Friday, May 27, 2011

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

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