His hunger strike is approaching its seventieth day. He is beyond the point where experts say “irreversible cognitive impairment and psychological damage” can result yet British prisoner Shaker Aamer, who has been detained without charge or trial in the Guantanamo Bay prison camps for eleven years, remains committed to resistance.
The Observer in the United Kingdom has published an op-ed he wrote from prison. He writes, “I’ve never been charged with any crime. I’ve never been allowed to see the evidence that the US once pretended they had against me. It’s all secret, even the statements they tortured out of me.”
Every day in Guantánamo is torture – as was the time they held me before that, in Bagram and Kandahar air force bases, in Afghanistan. It’s not really the individual acts of abuse (the strappado – that’s the process refined by the Spanish Inquisition where they hang you from your wrists so your shoulders begin to dislocate, the sleep deprivation, and the kicks and punches); it’s the combined experience. My favourite book here (I’ve read it over and over) has been Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: torture is for torture, and the system is for the system.
His political consciousness, however, prevents him from being willing to beg for mercy, end his hunger strike and accept what the system is doing to him.
“More than a decade of my life has been stolen from me, for no good reason,” Aamer declares. “I resent that; of course I do. I have missed the birth of my youngest son, and some of the most wonderful years with all my four children. I love being a father, and I always worked to do it as best I can.”
He wants to go home to London, but states, “I am never going to beg. If I have to die here, I want my children to know that I died for a principle, without bowing to my abusers.”
Clive Stafford Smith, lawyer and executive director for the UK-based legal charity, Reprieve, shares that Aamer, who is “widely regarded as a robust and resourceful character, has started to raise the possibility that he might die inside Guantánamo Bay.” He has asked Smith to “brief” his wife “that he might not make it out alive after all.”
If he dies in Guantanamo, President Barack Obama, his administration and the wider United States government will bear great responsibility, but, according to allegations and details being shared by Smith, Britain and Saudi Arabia may be responsible as well.
Aamer is one of 86 prisoners cleared by all intelligence agencies for release, however, there is a wicked catch. According to Reprieve, he is “alone among the 779 who have been detained in Guantánamo Bay in having purportedly been cleared for release, but to only one country – Saudi Arabia.” Reprieve believes if he was repatriated to Saudi Arabia he would be “detained indefinitely, his access to media and his lawyers hugely curtailed.” In fact, Aamer has protested “forced repatriation to Saudi Arabia.”
“The sole reason for the US to send Shaker to Saudi Arabia is to have him silenced, most likely by sentencing him to a long imprisonment after a sham trial,” Smith contends.
This article first appeared on the blog The Dissenter.