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Shaker Aamer and his nightmare in Guantanamo

Imprisoned on 14th February 2002 and, since then, he has been tortured and subjected to long periods of isolation. This is the nightmare of a man in this concentration camp.

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Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 7At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States installed this base in Cuba, which was equipped as a concentration camp after the invasion of Afghanistan, at the end of 2001.

At the start, nearly 700 people inhabited the cells of the North American detention centre. Today, there are still 166 people in these cells, many of them without having received formal charges.

Also, 89 prisoners have been granted their freedom but it is not known for when. Another 46 have received an indefinite sentence and 36 have been referred to military trials.

Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 15One of these prisoners is Shaker Aamer. He was imprisoned on 14th February 2002. Since then, he has been tortured and subjected to long periods of isolation.

Originally from Saudi Arabia, he arrived in the UK in 1996 after receiving indefinite leave to remain with his wife and four children, who are all of British nationality.

In London he worked as an Arabic translator for some law firms and, in his free time, he helped refugees find accommodation and he offered them advice about their struggles with the Home Office.

Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 3However, in October 2001 and, after the bombing of Kabul, he decided to move with his family to Afghanistan to teach the children of Arabic-speaking expatriates in Kabul.

The school was destroyed by bombing and the family was a victim of the anarchy that reigned during the military conflict of Tora Bora. In the middle of such confusion he was arrested on 24th November 2001 by Afghan forces in Jalalabad.

Aamer denies that he was involved in the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation and he states that he was working for a charity organisation. However, he was imprisoned in secret by the United States.

Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 10In so-called interrogations he was tortured. “All I know is that I felt that someone was grabbing my head and starting to beat it against the wall with such force that my head was bouncing against it”, he complains about the bad treatment he has received from MI5 agents, UK intelligence and security services.

Regime of isolation

In Guantanamo he has had the same treatment and, according to his lawyers, for the greater part of his arrest he has been kept in solitary confinement.

That severity, according to what some social organisations add, is due to his participation in hunger strikes and his engagement with the other prisoners, whom he defends and represents.

Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 14In those hunger strikes and according to what is revealed in some reports, he was tied to restraint chairs, subjected to painful methods of force feeding, and deprived of comforts, such as sheets and books.

Concerning the said abuses, the head of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, voices that “prolonged periods of a regime of non-communication and the supposed torture used against him show why Guantanamo has become an affront to human rights”.

“The continued arrest of Shaker Aamer is totally disconcerting and the subject has become an open wound in the UK and USA”, she emphasises.

La risa remedio  19Humanitarian campaign

Humanitarian organisations recall that, since there is no case against him, he was already granted his freedom five years ago. “Shaker Aamer faces no charges and the UK has said that it will welcome him back”, emphasises Kate Allen.

There has also been a publically drafted petition by the UK Government. “It has done little to pursue that petition”, complain some organisations adding that “there is a strong suspicion that both the UK and the USA want Aamer to remain imprisoned because he would  make people aware of his torture and that of the other prisoners”.

To put an end to his torture, Amnesty International has orchestrated a campaign in which it has asked “to negotiate without delay with the UK authorities for the freeing of Shaker Aamer if he is not going to be charged and brought to trial”.

Shaker Aamer y su pesadilla 6To date Amnesty International has collected nearly 20,000 signatures to also petition “ to clarify what conditions, if there were any, will be established by the United States authorities for Shaker Aamer’s return to the UK”.

To counter the politicians’ calm and their unfulfilled promises, hundreds of organisations are asking for the closure of Guantanamo and, with it, put an end to the abuses and injustices that are committed there.

 

(Translated by Claire Donneky – Email: claire.donneky@ukgateway.net)

 

 

 

 

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