Fascinating, revealing and harrowing handwritten account of detention, interrogation and abuse by prisoner still at Guantanamo
Shaker Aamer, Fayiz al-Kandari, Samir Moqbel and 163 other have been starving for over 100 days to get justice.
Tariq Ramadan speaks to Moazzam Begg about the Guantanamo hunger strikers and if Muslims are doing enough for them
For exactly 100 days today, Guantanamo detainees have been on hunger strike, protesting against their arbitrary detention, inhumane treatment and desecration of the Qur’an by US guards. It is the longest and widest reaching hunger strike since the camp was opened in 2002. Nearly 130 of the 166 men still detained are taking part in this hunger strike, with many now suffering the brutality of force feeding. 86 of them have been cleared for release several years ago, including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained for over 11 years without charge or trial.
As part of a weekend of global action, we kindly request that you dedicate your khutbah to highlight this situation, hence supporting these oppressed Muslims and justice. In order to assist you, CagePrisoners has prepared a template khutba providing you with all the necessary Islamic and factual references relevant to the topic.
A forum to discuss the issues surrounding International human rights breaches – State accountability v State immunity
Former inmates of the notorious prison say Barack Obama must made good on his claim to want it closed
In light of the recent e-petition demanding the return of Shaker Aamer to the UK from Guantanamo Bay and the ongoing hunger strike undertaken by detainees at the camp, Johina Aamer writes to David Cameron, raising important questions about the British government (in)action to secure the release of her father.
On 14 April 2013, CagePrisoners had the pleasure to speak in Brussels at a conference organised by the Collectif Réflexions Musulmanes (CRM). The enthusiasm was palpable at the venue since it was perhaps the first gathering of this kind in Belgium.
This is Ahmed's story. It will make you rethink what it means to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It will also make you look anew at courage, survival, justice and the War on Terror.
Lawyers representing hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo Bay have warned some of the protesters could soon die in the ongoing protest. Lawyers for the men estimate that of the 166 still indefinitely detained at Guantánamo, nearly all are on hunger strike.
Tuesday 8th April 2013 - The day that Margaret Thatcher passed away. Within seconds of the announcement, Twitter and Facebook were clogged with messages and it became impossible to find a news channel that was not reporting on it (tried and failed).
A Guantánamo inmate since 2002, Shaker Aamer explains why he's joined the other detainees in a hunger strike.
Did Beyonce really lose that much weight? What diet did Kate Hudson go on? How does Kim Kardashian's weight alter so much? These are the daily questions that are plastered across tabloids and the answers are of such high interest to today's society.
When Khalid Shaikh Muhammad's defence team invited me to sit in on part of their discussions last week I was honoured and excited.
Centuries before Guantanamo, Muslims were abducted, sold and transported to the Americas to become slaves there. Back then already, such practices were facilitated by local and corrupt rulers.
However, some men of wisdom rose up against this injustice and left us words which our governments should ponder over.
Nasir al-Din was a 17th century West African scholar who denounced and fought against the animist kings of his time because they sold their subjects to European slave traders under frivolous pretexts. He stated:
“God does not allow kings to raid, kill, or enslave their people; he has them, on the contrary, to guard them from their enemies. The peoples are not made for the kings but the kings are made for the peoples”.
Sign the petition to return Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo to the UK
Sign the petition to return Nabil Hadjarab from Guantanamo to France
American Justice – a Richard Vergette play that addresses the sociopolitical issues surrounding the death penalty - has just opened in the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, running from 10 January to 9 February.
The play is based around the character of Lee Fenton (played by Ryan Gage), who has murdered the daughter of the Congressman (actor Peter Tate) but, on request of the Congressman, he has his death sentence commuted to life without parole on the condition that the Congressman educates him. Rest assured, the storyline goes far deeper than the surface with big twists that leave the audience gasping at crucial moments. It strongly encourages you to walk away thinking about the issues that are addressed – rarely, does a West End play have such a potential impact on influencing the political stance of its audience.
The play addresses the following themes - the systemic abuse of prisoners by law enforcement officers in a predominantly conservative Christian country, the state of prison education system, the theory of rehabilitation and retribution and the impact of murder upon the family of a victim.
The harsh acts of the warden (actor David Schaal) are immediately excused within the first quarter of an hour as he attempts to justify his actions by quoting the Bible -
“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” (Mathew 5:7).
The warden’s belief that Fenton is not merciful leads to him to speak to him using derogatory terminology, discouraging his development and his Christian belief is used to explain why the warden believes Fenton ought to be punished by death for his actions. This is a reflection upon the mindset of many conservative Christians in the U.S. who stances on a variety of issues ranging from Obama’s Muslim heritage to homosexuality are referenced in the play.
An article written on behalf of CagePrisoners need not go into extensive detail about the theme of systemic abuse – we have written countless times and produced multiple reports that stand testament to the abuse and torture in secret camps, Guantanamo Bay, and the general treatment of prisoners affected by the War on Terror. Prison abuse goes much further than just those that CagePrisoners campaign for – there is strong evidence to suggest the “beating of prisoners, torture of prisoners, (and) humiliation of prisoners” occurs frequently in state prisons. There is no respect for the fact that these prisoners are paying time for their crimes, which is sufficient punishment – they should not be treated inhumanely during this time.
Education and Rehabilitation
Many opponents of the death penalty strongly believe in the power of strengthening the prison education system in rehabilitating offenders. The Congressman takes it upon himself to look past the fact that Fenton had murdered his daughter, and chooses to teach him – the audience quickly witnesses a man who cannot read, progress into an intellectual by the second scene.
There is a compelling argument for the use of education to help criminals change and choose an alternate life path upon release, if they are granted release, or even to use their education to make a difference from within the prison. One example of a death row prisoner who used books to educate himself whilst on death row and strengthened his mental faculties, resilience and intellectual capability whilst in prison is Wilbert Rideau. Rideau was held on death row for 12 years until in 1972, the application of death row in Louisiana changed and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In prison, Rideau read countless books and rose to become a leader amongst the abused prisoners, writing freelance articles for mainstream media, publishing his own magazine from within the prison and writing books from inside Angola. Now, after release in 2005 following a re-trial where he was found guilty of manslaughter, Rideau speaks about his experience, the importance of prison education systems and the impact that education had upon his life.
Congressman – “The audacity of hope, you will exemplify.”
For a man who is trapped inside a small cell with little exercise, waiting for the eventual announcement of his date of death or awaiting clemency, a book can have an incredible impact upon the exercise of his imagination and provides him with the opportunity of education – something many take for granted, but research suggests that 75% of those in U.S. prisons are illiterate. The Congressman shouts in frustration at Fenton in the first scene when explaining his motives for wanting to teach him, when Fenton cannot understand – “The audacity of hope, you will exemplify.” Referring to President Obama’s novel, the Congressman is arguing that through learning, Fenton will learn to have a string of hope in prison – hope, which takes a sense of humanity that only comes through education, to feel. Education is an extremely powerful tool that society takes for granted, and American Justice forces you to think not only about prison reform systems but also state education systems and whether we would have as many criminals on the streets as we do if everyone was given an equal opportunity to schooling.
To enforce death upon an individual is to presume that he or she is incapable of rehabilitation. With education comes a chance to be rehabilitated – criminal mindsets can be changed, a sense of morality can be instilled and it comes back to hope – giving the individual hope that they have more to offer than they perhaps initially believed, giving them the hope that they can change.
Victim family impact
Congressman – “There’s something deeply destructive about hatred.”
The hatred that the family of a murder victim feels will not go away with the death of the murderer – as the Congressman tells Fenton, he does not hate him because hatred is “deeply destructive” and cannot be rectified with the simple solution of meeting an eye for an eye. In the same way that burying a loved one never quite puts an end to the sorrow and suffering that lingers, witnessing a murderer die provides a quick pain release, a momentary sense of justice for the suffering of your loved one but beyond this, your loved one does not come back and the grief remains. The Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) was set up to discuss the needs of murder victims’ families, arguing the death penalty does not provide a solution. Families who are part of this foundation have explained that they have dealt with their losses by deciding that they “couldn’t live with that hate and had to move forward,” which seeking the death penalty would not enable them to do – the arduous process of constantly pushing for the enforcement of death over years, often decades, does not give the grieving a moment to deal with their loss and move forward with their lives. After all those years, if their tiresome fight for the death of the perpetrator is successful, they often find it difficult to readjust to a life that does not involve campaigning and fighting for that death – they lose sight of how to live life independently of the one tragic incident that lead them to years of despair trying to seek “justice.”
Education, abusive penal system, rehabilitation and victim impact… there is one more powerful theme that this play addresses, but to share this would be to spoil the plot for those who have not yet watched it. I strongly encourage you all to watch.
International human rights breaches - State accountability v State immunity
Legal seminar: Preserving the rule of law: taking a risk
Extradited to a future of torture: the reality of solitary confinement in America
Spying and Entrapment
The Guantánamo Memoirs of Mohamedou Ould Slahi
TRAITOR: a Guantanamo guard's journey to Islam
Starving for justice
Are Muslims active enough in the fight against Guantanamo?
Help Lynne Stewart, civil rights lawyer for Muslim defendants, stay alive
How your Schedule 7 swab could help get your family arrested
Why haven't you signed the Shaker Aamer petition?