Shaker Aamer to be freed

I’ve never met my DAD. London, Jan 2006
Shaker Aamer’s youngest son, now almost 14 was born a few months after his capture

At last, the news we have waited too many years for. Finally, Shaker Aamer, the last UK prisoner in Guantanamo is to be released.

Joy Hurcombe of the Free Shaker Aamer campaign, June 2015

I’ve long lost count of how many times I’ve photographed and written about protests to free Shaker, including many of the regular protests by the London Guantanamo Campaign and the Free Shaker Aamer campaign.¬† The first I remember covering was in January 2006, when a protest march called for the release of nine people with British citizenship or right to remain where still held there, Shaker Aamer among them.

Those orange jump suits were soon a familiar sight at protests. London, Jan 2006

Those jump suits caused be no end of photographic problems, which I’ve written about over the years, because they were so bright – and often fluorescent – and in an area of the spectrum which often causes difficulties.

Battersea, Nov 2013

The Free Shaker Aamer campaign has been coming to stand opposite Parliament every week while it is in session for several years, and I’ve photographed them many times, as well as at other protests they have had outside the MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall and in Battersea, close to where his family lives.

Vauxhall, Aug 2013

Amnesty International protest at US Embassy, Jan 2007

Every year since 2007 I think I have photographed events to mark the anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, some outside the US embassy, others elsewhere in London. There have also been protests on the anniversary of Shaker’s illegal rendition to Guantanamo from Bagram, on St Valentines Day, Feb 14th, 2002.

Aisha Maniar, organiser of the London Guant√°namo Campaign speaks at Downing St, Feb 2015

It was news that was welcomed by almost everyone, including politicians of all the main political parties who have supported the campaign for his release. Almost everyone, except perhaps someone in the BBC, who invited a spokesperson from the US right wing Henry Jackson Society to come on and spread some unsubstantiated lies about him, telling anonymous rumours that the US authorities were unable to find any evidence for as if they were facts. Had their been any real evidence they would never have cleared him for release, even for Saudi Arabia, as they did first eight years ago in 2007 and again two years later.

One of the many protests by the Free Shaker Aamer campaign every week Parliament was in session. Feb 2015

Its hard to understand why, and it certainly can’t be explained by their usual ideas about balance. Perhaps the only credible explanation is that it was the start of a campaign by MI6 and the US security services to discredit the eye-witness evidence that Shaker may give about torture and their part in it, both at Guantanamo and before that at Bagram. Shaker too when in Guantanamo stood up for the other prisoners; one of few there among detainees and jailers understanding and speaking both English and Arabic, he became both a translator and an advocate. The BBC claims to be above such things, but unfortunately often bows to political pressure, as we have seen in the past week in their failure to cover #piggate.

Two posts on the protests in June:

Magna Carta justice for Shaker Aamer
New MPs Stand with Shaker

And too many more on My London Diary to post them all.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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