Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Only Place That Needs a Muslim Ban is Guantánamo Bay



10 years of regular LGC Shut Guantánamo! protests outside the US Embassy: Thursday 2 February: 12-1pm outside the US Embassy London & 1.15-2.15pm outside Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park (opposite Marble Arch)

In February 2007, inspired by the late Brian Haw’s permanent peaceful vigil opposite Parliament against the Iraq War, the LGC started regular protests outside the US Embassy in London to remind the people inside that the whole world had not forgotten about the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo. First on a weekly basis, from February 2007 to August 2008, and monthly ever since, the LGC has had a regular presence outside the US Embassy come rain or shine, transport strike or snowfall. 
The first protest in February 2007
The LGC did not fail to see the prejudiced and discriminatory nature of the US’ post-9/11 policies: all the men held at Guantánamo are Muslim and non-American. There has been just a handful of prosecutions after 15 years out of the almost 800 prisoners held there. Of the 41 men who remain, none were captured by the US military or in Afghanistan: they were predominantly kidnapped or arrested by foreign intelligence and military forces and sold to the US, as were up to 90% of the Guantánamo prisoners in total.

We have used these regular protests to show solidarity with other prisoners of the war on terror as well – Dr Aafia Siddiqui, Palestinian-American prisoner in Iraq Shawki Ahmed Omar, extradited Britons Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, Chelsea Manning – as well as other US prisoners such as Mumia Abu Jamal and the hunger strikers at maximum security prisons in California in 2013. 

2012, marking our 5th anniversary, the Guantánamo prisoners were not forgotten by us

When Barack Obama failed to close Guantánamo Bay by 2010 and interest in the issue died down, even though over 200 prisoners remained there, the LGC’s regular demos were one of the few reminders anywhere of what was happening at Guantánamo. With similar protests held outside US Embassies by prisoners’ family members in countries like Kuwait, it was an honour to be a part of the small but persistent circle that never gave up. 
2014 protest
On 2 February, we will mark the tenth anniversary of this regular action. Over the past few years, on the first Thursday of each month, the protest has consisted of an hour (12-1pm) outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square and an hour (1.15-2.15pm) outside Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park (opposite Marble Arch), where there are more passers-by and tourists who are receptive and welcoming of our cause. This action is also our first demonstration under the Trump administration, which is continuing the policies of its predecessors at Guantánamo. Please join us https://www.facebook.com/events/706025256245152/

The LGC will also join the Stop The War Coalition’s Stop Trump’s Muslim Ban protest starting at 11am on Saturday 4 February at the US Embassy to march to Downing. If you can help us hand out leaflets to raise awareness or draw attention to this ongoing injustice by three US administrations, please get in touch.