from Close Guantánamo

When the “Close Guantánamo” website was established two months ago, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison, we set out both to educate and to campaign for the closure of the prison, and one of the ways that we envisaged the campaigning aspect was through encouraging people to sign up to specific petitions, to demonstrate that Guantánamo — and the men still held there — have not been forgotten.

It remains depressing to us that 89 of the 171 men in Guantánamo have been cleared for release, but there is so little appetite in Washington to secure their release. As has been explained on this site, lawmakers imposed a set of unprincipled restrictions on releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, for the second year running, in the National Defense Authorization Act that the President Obama signed on Dec. 31. However, the NDAA also contains a waiver, whereby the administration can bypass these restrictions, if senior officials are content that it is safe to do so, and that it is in America’s best interests.

It is now 14 months since the last living prisoner left Guantánamo, and this is an intolerable situation given that the 89 cleared prisoners were approved for release at least two years ago by the President’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force — and some of these cleared men were first approved for release by military review boards under the Bush administration as long ago as 2004.

To encourage an end to this shameful and depressing deadlock, “Close Guantánamo” is delighted to be involved in two petitions calling for the release of just one of these men, Shaker Aamer, in the hope that (a) the demand for his release cannot be ignored, and (b) his release will lead to the release of others.

Shaker, whose British wife and four British children await his return in London, was first notified that he could leave Guantánamo in 2007, when the British government first called for his return, and was then cleared for release by President Obama’s Task Force. His continued detention is, therefore, completely unacceptable.

To secure his return, we ask you to sign the international petition launched on the influential Care 2 petition site, for which we are seeking 10,000 signatures. This will be delivered to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UK foreign secretary William Hague. Please also let others know about this petition, and also encourage your friends and family to sign up to join us to receive updates throughout the rest of the year.

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