Over 12 years ago, November 13th 2001 to be precise, President George W Bush signed an order authorizing the detention of suspected al-Qaida members and supporters, and the creation of military commissions.
A few nights ago I was sat on top of a rock in the middle of national park drinking drams of whisky ranting to my, very lovely but unfortunately close by, American friend about how much of a travesty Guantanamo Bay is. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “it’s a fucking travesty that it still exists”
My mate: “I know man”
Me: “But don’t you get it, it’s outrageous…I mean how can it be justified”
My mate: “I know, I completely agree”
Me: “But I mean, it’s beyond words…even after so much evidence of torture, ritual humiliations…”
At this point I would like to think my mate walked off but in reality I suspect he was too nice and sat and listened to this tipsy Englishman ranting about his country’s foreign policy.
Although I may have been slurring, and the conversation might at times have slipped into more of a monologue, at least we were was talking. One of my biggest fears is that Guantanamo and all the other secret detention sites the US operates might just become a norm if people stop being outraged about them.
166 men that we know of are still held in Guantanamo. 86 have been cleared for release by an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by President Obama, but are still held mainly because of Congressional opposition (see here for more on that).
These are men have all suffered enormously, their loved ones, family and friends have also all suffered enormously. They need us to be outraged…I mean really fucking* outraged!
One of these 86 men who have been cleared for release is British resident Shaker Aamer. I highlight his case over any other just because I know this blog is mainly read by Brits. Shaker was taken to Guantanamo Bay in 2002. He has been cleared for release now for over 3 years and yet he is still languishing inside this illegal detention site.
If you do one thing today make it this. Write to your MP and ask him/her to write to the FCO. By itself it might not result in change but it will help remind those in power that we have not forgotten about Shaker or the travesty which is Guantanamo.
More information and how to take action:
*Sorry if you take offence at my use of the word fucking…really I am. But, I would like you take a minute to put things in fucking perspective. The use of a swear word might, just might, be the lesser of two evils considering the nature and content of this blog post. Want to get angry about something? Get angry about Guantanamo, about being held without trial, about the war on terror, about systematic torture…you get my point.