Wednesday, February 01, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Campaigners to mark Five Years of anti-Guantánamo protest with vigil outside US Embassy, 3rd February

MEDIA RELEASE: Campaigners to mark Five Years of anti-Guantánamo protest with vigil outside US Embassy
1st February 2012 - for immediate release
The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] will hold a candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy in London on Friday 3 February at 6-8pm to mark the fifth anniversary of the campaign’s regular “Shut Down Guantánamo!” [2] demonstrations outside the embassy. Campaigners will be joined by Actors for Human Rights [3] performing from The Rendition Monologues [4] and actor and poet Sergio Amigo reading poems by Guantánamo prisoners.
Aisha Maniar, from the London Guantánamo Campaign, said: “We started this action five years ago to serve the United States government with a regular reminder on the doorstep of its embassy here in London that the whole world will not turn a blind eye to the regime of torture, arbitrary detention and lawlessness it has set up at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere.
“Five years into our action and ten years after Guantánamo Bay opened its doors, the US government has clearly demonstrated that it has no intention of closing Guantánamo Bay any time soon or ending the regime it symbolises. Nonetheless, we remain resolved to see Guantánamo Bay shut down and justice for the prisoners, including the return of British residents Shaker Aamer [5] and Ahmed Belbacha [6] to this country. We call on residents and visitors to the capital who share our belief in and love for freedom and justice to join us. We will continue to maintain our regular presence outside the US Embassy until our demands are met.”
Contact: e-mail

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. Since February 2007, the London Guantánamo Campaign has held a regular protest outside the US Embassy in London, first on a weekly basis, until August 2008 and on a monthly basis since then. The protest calls for the return of British resident held at Guantánamo Bay to the UK, the closure of Guantánamo Bay and other similar prisons, such as Bagram in Afghanistan, and justice for the remaining prisoners, of whom there are currently 171. Over that period, this has included special actions held in solidarity with accused Wikileaks whistleblower Private Bradley Manning and other US prisoners, with Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr during his military tribunal, and to mark the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.
5. Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. He claims to have been tortured repeatedly during his time in US custody, on one occasion in the presence of a British intelligence agent. He has a British wife and four children living in Battersea, south London. He has never met his youngest son, who is almost 10 years old. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought his release in August 2007, along with four other residents held at Guantánamo Bay, the last of whom was released in February 2009. His lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, has recently expressed grave concerns for his physical and mental health due to prolonged arbitrary detention.
6. Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001, was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Never charged or tried, he was free to leave but has remained at Guantánamo Bay for want of a safe third country to return to. A court injunction in the USA has prevented his forced return to Algeria.

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