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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Open letter to PM calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay

The London Guantánamo Campaign yesterday (January 11, 2011) delivered an open letter to Downing Street urging Prime Minister David Cameron to take action to help close Guantánamo Bay on its ninth anniversary. The letter was signed by 75 individuals in a personal capacity and on behalf of organisations. Signatories include MPs Caroline Lucas and John McDonnell, MEPs Baroness Sarah Ludford and Jean Lambert, London Assembly Member Darren Johnson, journalists Andy Worthington and Victoria Brittain, former prisoner Bisher Al Rawi and many others.

A shorter version of the letter was published in the Guardian yesterday:

The letter and full list of signatories (in alphabetical order) is below:

Dear Prime Minister,

Guantánamo Bay has now been open for nine years. During that time, your predecessors were successful in securing the return to the UK of all British nationals held there, and all but two of the former British residents. Nevertheless, they were knowingly complicit in the ordeal of the men and their families. Almost a year after the expiry of President Obama’s own deadline to close Guantánamo, the facility still holds some 174 prisoners.
We welcome recent efforts by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to raise the case of Shaker Aamer, the last legal British resident in Guantánamo Bay, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. These measures must translate into his immediate and unconditional release and return to his family in the UK. Shaker has never been charged or tried for any crime, and no reasons have been given by the US for his continued detention, despite him being cleared for release in 2007. Shaker is, like you, a father, but his four children have had to grow up without their father for the past nine years, and his youngest son has never even met his father. We urge you to intervene personally in his case.

Guantánamo Bay will not close without concerted efforts by the international community, and Britain must play its part and follow the lead of other European countries that have accepted innocent prisoners on humanitarian grounds. One such man with links to the UK is Ahmed Belbacha, also cleared for release since 2007, who resided in Britain for two years. He cannot return to his native Algeria for fear of his life and liberty, so he continues to languish in Guantánamo. We would ask you to urgently request his return to the UK, and to offer to take other cleared prisoners awaiting release in order to make possible the early closure of Guantánamo.
A series of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay over the past year, including that of a child soldier, Omar Khadr, show clear contempt for justice and the rule of law by our US allies. In 2011, four years away from the celebration of 800 years of the Magna Carta and the rule of law in England, influential in US and international law, the United Kingdom must show greater leadership in ensuring that basic legal and humanitarian principles are upheld.

We, the undersigned,

Len Aldis, secretary of Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, Mark Barrett, Campaign for Real Democracy, Councillor Jonathan Bloch Lib Dem Councillor, Haringey Council, Victoria Brittain, Adrienne Burrows, Peace and Justice in East London, Chris Cole, Figtree, Liz Davies, Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Hilary Evans, Kingston Peace Council/CND, Maria Gallastegui, Peacestrike, Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition, Richard Haley, Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, Noel Hamel, Chair, Kingston Peace Council, Maryam Hassan, Justice for Aafia Coalition, Desiree Howells, Peace and Justice in East London, Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Joy Hurcombe, Brighton Against Guantánamo, Cllr Darren Johnson, Green Party member of London Assembly, Bruce Kent, vice-president of Pax Christi, Jean Lambert, Green MEP, Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat MEP, Aisha Maniar, London Guantánamo Campaign, Millius Palayiwa, Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation, England, Asim Qureshi, executive director of Cageprisoners, Milan Rai, co-editor of Peace News, Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Ray Silk, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Walter Wolfgang, Labour CND, Rosemary Addington, Khadijah Al-Hilali, Dr Shahrar Ali, Green Party, Bisher Al-Rawi, Karima Azzouni, Abduljaleel Bain, Steve Barnes, Shaun Brown, Maude Casey, Manish Dhokia, Paschal Egan, David Ferrard, Aman Fida, Michael Fisher, Martin Francis, Anne Gray, C.C.H. Gwyntopher, David Harrold, Mary Holmes, Gillian Hurle, Miranda James, Ewa Jasiewicz, Zelda Jeffers, N.M. Kleinman, Ann Kobayashi, Sarah Lasenby, Christine MacLeod, Jim McCluskey, Simon Moore, Corinna Mullin, Anita Olivacce, Roshan Pedder, Mike Phipps, Malcolm Pittock, Ian Pocock, David Polden, M.A. Qavi, Emma Sangster, Daniel Viesnik, Sam Walton, Frances Webber, Adrian White, Adrian Windisch, Richard Wolff, Andy Worthington