Moazzam Begg, once a detainee of Guantanamo Bay and more recently subject to wrongful imprisonment yet again (in the UK), is someone who knows Shaker well and knows only too well what he is going through. Moazzam writes in support of the Stand With Shaker campaign in the hope that the truth will surface – as it did for him – and justice for Shaker will come soon.
If it was a Hollywood prison epic you’d say it couldn’t be based on real events but the story of Shaker Aamer is worse than that. An injustice of epic proportions that few in the world recognise and dare to speak out against where it matters. Shaker hasn’t been detained without charge or trial for thirteen years by a despotic regime that doesn’t apply the rule of law and practices torture and degrading treatment as a matter of routine.
He’s been incarcerated in the world’s most infamous prison by the world’s most vocal proponent of justice, equality and freedom. Yet none of these rights have been afforded to Shaker by either the government of the USA which continues to detain him or the British government which continues to fail him and his British family.
It is truly bizarre that since my release from Guantanamo the world has changed so much – I have travelled to parts of the world where people rose up against tyranny and changed their governments – often due to measures that included oppressive imprisonment and regular physical abuse therein.
I’ve even been falsely imprisoned (again) and released (again) following my pursuit in uncovering these abuses and yet Shaker remains in prison. He’s never had his day in court, he’s not been designated for trial by military commission, a commission which has far lower standards of proof than either US civil or military court procedures. The US president has promised to close Guantanamo more times than I can remember and I am certain anyone who once took him seriously on the matter no longer does.
But with all the going and froing in the case of Guantanamo in general and of Shaker in particular there is one simple, crucial, legal and ultimately moral question that needs to be asked.
What crime is it that Shaker has committed for which he has paid the price equivalent to a life sentence without being convicted?
The answer to this question is in the hands of those who have maintained and justified his detention, and they will have to answer it in the court of public opinion at some point. Perhaps the reason they have taken so long is that they know people like those organising the Stand With Shaker campaign will be waiting patiently for the truth to come out. And when it does, that day will be Shaker’s day along with all those who stood by him.
Friend of Shaker Aamer, former Guantanamo prisoner and Outreach director CAGE
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)