Campaigners launch Fast For Shaker
Celebrities, MPs and campaigners started rolling 24-Hour fast in solidarity with Shaker Aamer who is on a hunger strike in Guantánamo
A new initiative, Fast For Shaker, created by the We Stand With Shaker campaign, was launched outside Parliament on 15th October, with the MPs John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas, Andy Slaughter, Tania Mathias, Tom Brake and David Davis of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group. John McDonnell established the group last November, and the MPs attending represent the group's cross-party support.
In attendance at the launch were Shaker Aamer's father-in-law Saeed Siddique, representatives of Reprieve (Shaker's lawyers), the actor David Morrissey, the comedian Sara Pascoe, and We Stand With Shaker's co-directors Joanne MacInnes and Andy Worthington.
Nearly 200 supporters have already pledged to Fast For Shaker, including Shaker Aamer's family, his lawyers Clive Stafford Smith and Cori Crider of Reprieve, the musician Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd), actors Mark Rylance, Maxine Peake, Juliet Stephenson, Janet Ellis and Harriet Walter, comedian Frankie Boyle, and MPs including David Davis, the co-chair of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, Andy Slaughter and Clive Lewis.
Supporters in the US are also fasting in solidarity with Shaker, including actor Ed Asner, former Guantánamo guard Brandon Neely, retired FBI agent Coleen Rowley, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin, and members of the campaigning group Witness Against Torture.
The US authorities told the British government on 25th September that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will be released and returned to his family in the UK after being held for nearly 14 years without charge or trial.
By US law, 30 days’ notice must be given to Congress before any prisoner can be freed from Guantánamo. In the meantime, however, Shaker has embarked on a hunger strike in protest at his ongoing abuse and his fears that, in his weakened state, he won’t live to see his family again.
Fast For Shaker is intended to show solidarity with Shaker, to encourage him to give up his hunger strike, and to keep pressure on the Obama administration to release him. He could be released by 24th October, at the end of Congress’s 30-day notification period, although there is no guarantee that he will be released immediately.
Andy Worthington said: "We are grateful to the media, to our celebrity supporters, to the MPs of all parties prepared to Fast For Shaker, and to the supporters in the UK, the US and around the world who have come together to show solidarity with Shaker and to keep up the pressure for his release."
Cori Crider Lawyer at Reprieve said when making her pledge to fast on our website: "I just saw Shaker in Guantánamo and I told him about what all you are doing to try to encourage him to be healthy. Under the censorship rules I am not allowed to say what he said, but I AM allowed to report that he gave all of you a very big smile."
Anyone wanting to pledge or find out more please go to the website: http://www.fastforshaker.org.uk