Friday, June 29, 2012

LGC Newsletter – June 2012


British Residents:The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign (SSAC) held an action opposite Parliament on 11 June to protest Shaker Aamer’s continuing detention and denial of basic rights and to commemorate the anniversary of the Magna Carta. Over a dozen activists braved the rain and were joined by Battersea MP Jane Ellison.
Guantánamo Bay:
On 11 June, the US Supreme Court turned down appeals from 7 Guantánamo prisoners who had filed habeas corpus writs, to know the reasons for their detention. In the past, by filing such applications, which then reveal that there is no lawful basis for the continued detention of prisoners, as happened in the case of the Uighur prisoners, judges have ordered their release. In this particular case, the judges simply dismissed the appeal without giving reasons. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for prisoners to fight and appeal their cases in the US courts and their lawyers have laid the blame for this on conservative judges being appointed to the Supreme Court. The dismissed appeal effectively closes the door to these prisoners to know why they have been detained without charge or trial for over ten years and then being able to challenge that reason. For almost 800 years, this has been a basic tenet of the law.
For more on this news:

On 21 June, lawyers for Omar Khadr accused the Canadian government of “stonewalling” on his case. Khadr, 25, is a Canadian national who was convicted in a secret plea bargain on terrorism charges in a trial that involved torture evidence and was the first time anyone had been tried for war crimes committed as a minor since the Second World War. Under this deal, he was due to serve part of his sentence in Canada. That was almost one year ago. Earlier this year, the US and Canadian governments agreed that he would be released by the end of May. More than a month later, there has not been much progress made in this respect. According to his lawyer, John Norris, Omar Khadr and the US have performed their part of the deal for him to be released to Canada and it is the Canadian government that is dragging its heels. He said, “Omar has lived up to his part of his deal. The United States has lived up to its part of the deal. The only reason eight months after he became eligible to return to Canada that Omar still sits in a cell in Guantanamo is because the Canadian government continues to fail in its obligations toward him”.
More on this news:

Extraordinary rendition:
Having published the Justice and Security Bill last month, the government’s proposed plans, to introduce secret trials and prevent some cases concerning “national security” being brought, are continuing to court controversy as they work their way through the House of Lords. Shortly after the bill was published, the Lords Constitution Select Committee and the special advocates, the security-vetted barristers who would be used in such secret trials, both published critical responses to the Bill. Concerns continue to be raised about the fairness and constitutionality of the proposals, which would undermine the right to a fair trial and other centuries-old legal principles. The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is also continuing its hearings into the bill, given the seriousness of the measures.
A Radio 4 “File on Four” programme assesses some of the issues involved:

On 28 June, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Sami Al-Saadi and their families started legal proceedings in the high court in London against the British government, former foreign minister Jack Straw and former MI6 chief Mark Allen for their rendition to torture in Libya in 2004. Shortly thereafter, relations between the UK and Libya thawed and it was no longer considered a rogue state. Tony Blair visited Colonel Gaddafi personally and trade and diplomatic relations were resumed. According to papers found in Libya by Human Rights Watch last year, the CIA considered this “rendition” a joint UK/US operation. The families are suing the UK authorities for their involvement in their torture and rendition. This civil case is being brought alongside a current criminal investigation by the police. Belhaj and Al-Saadi have also initiated proceedings against other states.

LGC Activities:
The June “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration was held on 7th June and was attended by 5 people. The July demonstration is exceptionally being held on WEDNESDAY 4 July at 12-2pm outside the US Embassy to mark US Independence Day:

The LGC held a vigil to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday 26 June. Around 50 people attended and held up placards in different languages with one simple message: “No to Torture”. The vigil attracted attention from passers-by and the LGC was joined by different organisations and campaigns. The LGC thanks everyone who attended and helped in the preparation. There is a report of the event on our blog with links to other media about it and the anniversary:  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

London Says "No To Torture!" - vigil report

This report with pictures:

Always one step ahead, weeks before the Olympic Games kick off, the London Guantánamo Campaign (LGC) brought a display of international spirit to the heart of the capital with a multilingual “No to Torture” vigil in Trafalgar Square to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the twenty fifth anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture becoming law on 26 June 1987. Around 50 people joined in, holding up banners in over 30 different languages with one simple message, “NO TO TORTURE”. We were joined by anti-war campaigners from the Stop The War Coalition, human rights activists from Amnesty International, the Free Mumia Campaign, Free Bradley Manning, Hands off Somalia and Baloch activists.

With its display of one simple message in over 30 languages, including Arabic, Persian, Indonesian, Swahili, Finnish, Greek, Russian, Hebrew and others, the action was a hit with tourists and passers-by who engaged with its simple message and stopped to check if their own language was included and to see how many they read and/or identify. Lots of people stopped to talk to the activists and expressed their support. That torture is always wrong and illegal is quite obvious to ordinary people; unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the politicians who sign the very instruments that ban it.

The purpose of this quiet and dignified vigil was to mark this date and this anniversary and show solidarity with victims of torture the world over, most of who suffer in silence and terribly, long after the immediate physical and psychological terror has ended.

London politicians Sarah Ludford MEP and Jeremy Corbyn MP gave their apologies for not being able to attend. Green MEP Jean Lambert made the following statement on the twenty-fifth anniversary about the work of the European parliament on torture investigation:

“The claims that British intelligence services have not been complicit in torture or rendition are continuing to crumble. Indeed, the recent scrapping of the Gibson Inquiry is further proof that successive UK governments are attempting to sweep the ugly matter under the carpet in the vain hope that it will magically disappear.

“In the European Parliament, we will often criticise third-country regimes for subjecting citizens to physical and mental acts of torture; where authorities that should protect individuals are complicit in crimes against them. Yet, those regimes use the behaviour of governments such as our own and the US to combat that criticism.

“The Parliament inquiry into alleged complicity in torture, led by Greens/EFA MEP Helene Flautre, is beginning to shine a light on the role played by Member States in exposing terrorism suspects to illegal treatment. Poland must also be given credit for breaking its silence over claims that a ‘secret’ CIA prison camp was operating within its borders. There is no doubt that this process of self-examination will be painful, but we must be clear – only be adopting a zero tolerance approach both at home and abroad can we put an end to torture for good.”

Joy Hurcombe, the chair of the Save Shaker Aamer, made the following statement on this anniversary:

“June 26th, is the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to remind the world that torture is a crime against humanity in international law. For over ten years, British resident Shaker Aamer has been imprisoned without charge or trial in Guantanamo, where he is routinely tortured. A recent shocking report from his US lawyer has been forwarded to David Cameron. This states that Shaker Aamer remains in solitary confinement, suffering daily beatings and abuse. He is deprived of sleep, medication and basic necessities including toilet paper, cup and comb. The UK and US Government could also mark the day by ending the ordeal of our victim of torture. By doing nothing, both countries are guilty of state-sponsored torture.”

Please join us at our next action - a lunchtime demo (12-2pm) outside the US Embassy in Mayfair – on US Independence Day, Wednesday 4th July, where we revert to our more usual orange and black attire (not mandatory).
Media on this event: 

Aisha Maniar from the London Guantánamo Campaign wrote the following article about the anniversary:

Andy Worthington wrote the following article:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: 25 Years of UN Convention Against Torture: Human Rights Activists Say "NO to Torture" in Torture Victims' Day Vigil in Trafalgar Square, 6-8pm

26th June 2012 - for immediate release

The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] and human rights activists will hold up banners saying "NO to torture" in over 30 languages at a vigil to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [2] and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture [3] on the north side of Trafalgar Square, outside the National Gallery, at 6-8pm today.

Aisha Maniar, a spokesperson for the London Guantánamo Campaign, says, "After the horrors of World War II, the world said "never, never again", but it quickly changed its mind. Instruments like the Convention Against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights were introduced to make states honour the obligations they signed up to, but the failure continues, particularly on this most basic of rights, to protect the most vulnerable in society.
"In the twenty first century, a pernicious new angle has been added to the practice of torture: outsourcing through extraordinary rendition, an international crime almost all states have played a part in. As well as standing in solidarity, we demand accountability for all victims. The demonisation of victims, as asylum seekers, suspected "terrorists" and insurgents must stop; the true criminals, those guilty of crimes against humanity, must instead be prosecuted.
"The twenty-fifth anniversary provides a good opportunity for reflection, one that is unlikely to be taken. The government's recent introduction of the Justice and Security Bill [4], tipped more in favour of the latter, should not be used as a method of preventing disclosure of involvement in torture and denying victims the right to justice."


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. In 1998, the United Nations consecrated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture:
3. The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force internationally on 26 June 1987:

4. Justice and Security Bill, published 29 May 2012:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Magna Carta Anniversary Marked with Death of Habeas Corpus Rights for Guantánamo Bay Prisoners

MEDIA RELEASE: Magna Carta Anniversary Marked with Death of Habeas Corpus Rights for Guantánamo Bay Prisoners
14th June 2012 – for immediate release
The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] regrets the decision of the American Supreme Court, on 11 June, to reject petitions from 7 Guantánamo Bay prisoners [2], held without charge or trial for over a decade, to challenge the basis of their detention. This comes in the same week as the 797th anniversary of the Magna Carta, on Friday 15 June, conferring the rights to a fair trial and habeas corpus [3], among others, for almost the past eight centuries. The court gave no reason for its decision to overturn this basic right it had earlier upheld.

On the same day, 11 June, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign [4] marked this upcoming anniversary with a protest outside Parliament calling for the release and return of British resident Shaker Aamer [5] to the UK and demanding that the government uphold his rights under Articles 39 and 40 [6] of the Magna Carta.

Aisha Maniar, a spokesperson for the London Guantánamo Campaign, says, “Almost eight centuries of hard fought-for and secured basic legal rights and liberties have been eroded through over a decade of indefinite detention and mistreatment under Presidents Bush and Obama at Guantánamo Bay and other places like it. Basic rights have been denied not just to these prisoners, but to all: the logical extension to this regime is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012) recently passed by the US government.

“The British government has fared no better through its failure to secure the release of British resident Shaker Aamer, who has been detained by the US without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay for over a decade, and its current efforts in the Justice and Security Bill to deny claimants the right to open justice and a fair hearing. Where then is the protection for ordinary citizens against arbitrary acts of the state?”


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.
The London Guantánamo Campaign will mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, on 26 June, with a vigil in Trafalgar Square at 6-8pm:

2. The prisoners are from the 40 detainees remaining at the camp who do not face trial or charges but have been held for over a decade without knowing the grounds for their detention. 169 prisoners remain in total.
3. The Magna Carta was signed in 1215, a charter granting rights and freedoms to ordinary subjects. It is a cornerstone of the English legal and constitutional system and has influenced American and international law.
Habeas corpus is an application made by a prisoner, or on their behalf, to a court for said prisoner to know whether there is sufficient cause and evidence for continued detention. It is considered to safeguard individual freedoms against arbitrary state action.
In 2008, in the case of Boumediene v Bush (, the Supreme Court held that this constitutional right – to know the case against you and reasons for detention - extended to prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay.

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. 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. Article 39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
Article 40. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

26 June: London Says...No to Torture!

An Invitation from The London Guantánamo Campaign


June 26th each year is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture ( The London Guantánamo Campaign invites you to join us for a vigil to show solidarity with all victims of torture all over the world.

Tuesday 26 June 6-8pm

Trafalgar Square

(north side – outside the National Gallery)

For more details: e-mail

Or call 07809 757 176