#FastForShaker: Activists start sympathy hunger strikes in support of last British Gitmo prisoner
British activists, including MPs and celebrities, have started symbolic 24-hour hunger strikes in solidarity with the last UK Guantanamo prisoner, Shaker Aamer, whose own is thought to be continuing until he is released.
The “Fast for Shaker” action was organized by a group of activists called “We stand with Shaker,” that demands an immediate release of the last British Gitmo detainee, who spent almost 14 years in prison without charge.
The 48-year-old prisoner has recently gone on his own hunger strike protesting against abuse and ill-treatment he has to endure in custody.
Now activists aim to “encourage Shaker to give up his hunger strike, in the knowledge that others have chosen to take up his protest,” the official site of the campaign says.
The campaigners also seek to step up pressure on the British and US governments to ensure Shaker Aamer’s release, which is scheduled for October 24, 30 days after US authorities announced he would be freed as they gave notice to Congress.
John McDonnell, the Labor Shadow Chancellor is among those showing support for the last British Gitmo prisoner.
“The initiative was to put pressure on the government and we secured that the Prime Minister will raise Shaker’s case with President Obama… In addition, we sent a cross-party delegation across to America and they met some senior American politicians and, I think, that helped to put additional pressure on Obama administration, I think, we are close to success,” McDonnell told RT.
241 people have joined the hunger strike relay in support of Aamer, as can be seen from the campaign’s official site. This list includes many politicians and celebrities such as actors Mark Rylance, David Morrissey, Maxine Peake, Harriet Walter and Janet Ellis as well as MPs, including Caroline Lucas, Tom Brake, David Davis, Tania Mathias and Andy Slaughter alongside with Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.
“In the past, we have never had this breadth of support in the parliament that we have now,” McDonnell said. “If Shaker is not released this time, there will be an outcry in the British parliament and there will be even more pressure on the British government,” he said stressing that the MPs “are also hoping to get to the bottom of the truth” concerning why Shaker Aamer was imprisoned for so long without a charge after his release.
Actor Mark Rylance called the case of Shaker Aamer “a situation of injustice” adding that if state does not “quickly provide evidence” justifying and incarceration of a person then “the state itself is in danger of becoming the body that is endangering community and… individuals.”
“It is a great tragedy that America and [the UK], which in this case is complicit with Guantanamo, have really dropped their standards and allowed this aberration of a justice to take place,” he told RT.
Shaker Aamer’s family and his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, are also taking part in the hunger strike relay.
“We are ready to do everything possible to bring him back here,” Saeed Siddique, Shaker Aamer’s father in law, told RT.
The activists have also launched an online campaign in support of the last UK Gitmo prisoner with internet users posting photos with a slogan “I fast for Shaker” on social networks to spread the message about the ongoing hunger strike relay.