It has passed us all by without a second thought. The 8th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo bay was two days ago. Did you hear about it in the news? Did you see the protests outside embassies around the world? No? Nor did I!
For those like the daughter of Shaker Aamer, it was a very real reminder of living without her father.
Shaker is one of 198 in-mates still being held like animals in Guantanamo Bay, facing daily torture and unrest. Most of these men are no longer there because the US wants them to be, but because European states refuse to accept them. Many EU states have taken positive steps to offer safe havens for inmates in line with the EU-US joint agreement on the closer of Guantanamo. The role of honour includes, France, Ireland, Hungary and Belgium. Many Member States however, continue a pubic rhetoric of calling for the closer of the detention centre whilst refusing to cooperate in the return of the inmates.
Many of those still held come from countries such as Syria, Tunisia and China where they would face severe risk of torture if they were to be returned.
It looks as though the detention centre will remain open well past the 22nd January, a year after Obama promised its closure. Sadly it is this Obama media “hook” that has kept it out of the news this past week. A bit of Obama bashing is far more appealing to our media than highlighting the truth that it is up to the governments of countries like the UK to offer these inmates a safe haven to rebuild their lives. I am willing to put my house on it (if I had one)…that on the 22nd Jan, this story will be everywhere in the news.
Guantanamo Bay remains one of the worst examples of injustice and cruelty of our age. Yet, our media (and human rights organisations) would rather wait a couple of weeks to get a good “hook” than to call for action today. For us two weeks will fly by, but for the inmates in Guantanamo where a minute feels like an hour, two weeks might feel like quite a long time!