Tom Brake MP: Why I’m fasting for Shaker Aamer

haker Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, which still stands as an icon to the Iraq War, a war which only the Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were brave enough to stand up against. Shaker has been held for the last thirteen years without charge or trial. He has been cleared by two successive US Presidents and yet is still held captive.

Baroness Ludford correctly said in 2012 ‘the continued existence of Guantanamo is a stain on the record and reputation of President Obama’; it is truly depressing that Guantanamo continues to be used to incarcerate people and that there are many reports of abuse and violence within the prison.

On 25th September, Shaker learned that he would finally be freed, however as Congress has to be given 30 days’ notice before Shaker can be released, he is unlikely to be released before the 25th October at the earliest.

Shaker has decided to stage a hunger strike to protest against the repeated abuse he has faced in Guantanamo; the abuse has had a severe effect on his health and Shaker fears that he may never see his family again.

I have decided to stand with Shaker and today I am fasting for 24 hours. This is a protest for Shaker but he is by no means the only victim of torture or illegal imprisonment around the world. It is for this reason that the Liberal Democrats will continue to champion human rights as an essential facet of the UK’s foreign policy. We have been consistent in Government and in opposition, at lobbying the United States for Shaker Aamer’s release.

We will always campaign to ensure international conventions are observed in war and call for fairness and compassion in any conflict. The UK must not be complicit in any illegality. Any UK breaking of the law, reduces us to the level of those we are seeking to oppose.

I encourage everyone to join me and others around the world in this protest. The greater the number who fast for Shaker, the more pressure will be exerted on the US Government to end the abuse of prisoners held without charge in GTMO.

As Liberal Democrats, we will always be on the side of the voiceless and the persecuted and champions of international law.  I can think of no better way of illustrating this than by fasting for Shaker.

* Tom Brake was the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington from 1997 to 2019.

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4 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Oct '15 - 7:39pm

    This is good, but it is total nonsense that we should never break international law. To paraphrase Tony Benn: what power does it have? Where did it come from? In whose interests is it exercised? To whom is it accountable? How can we change it?

    We aren’t conservatives and shouldn’t just allow the likes of China and Russia, with Saudi Arabia chairing the UN’s human rights council, to dictate our laws.

  • “haker [sic] Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, which still stands as an icon to the Iraq War, a war which only the Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were brave enough to stand up against.”

    That is seriously misleading on two counts. First, the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees were accused of involvement in the Afghanistan war, not Iraq. Second, a great many people who were not Liberal Democrats “stood up against” the Iraq war, both in Parliament and on the streets.

  • Charles Rothwell 20th Oct '15 - 8:04am

    Such sentiments as “This is a protest for Shaker but he is by no means the only victim of torture or illegal imprisonment around the world. It is for this reason that the Liberal Democrats will continue to champion human rights as an essential facet of the UK’s foreign policy” are to be fully supported and applauded and go to the heart of what the Liberal Democrats are about and why (in my view) the party is still desperately needed. (The article in the current edition of “The Economist” about the political culture being shaped by the SNP north of the border provides a lot to reflect upon!) I think it is ironic, however, that this posting occurs at exactly the same time as HMG is on steroids to kowtow in front of and fawn over one of the most brutal and ruthless one-party dictatorships in the world. Where was the deep-going debate about this “fundamental shift in British government policy”? Although voices are being raised (thank heavens) about pandering to the government of a country which is dumping steel at prices which are shredding the very last vestiges of our steel industry and the wisdom of entrusting the construction of a (French-designed) nuclear power system to funding by a government which butchered its own young people demanding basic democratic rights a quarter of a century ago, no-one to date has pointed out the ludicrousness of promoting the retention at horrendous cost (in an “era of austerity”) of the “independent” nuclear deterrent, whilst at the same time handing control of huge segments of the nation’s energy generation to what (beneath the surface) is in reality a highly fragile ruling clique (pace Hong Kong last year) in charge of an economy which is decidedly past its prime (with most commentators seeing proclaimed growth rates of “6.9%” as the purest fantasy)!

  • Geoffrey payne 24th Oct '15 - 7:39am

    Excellent campaign.

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