Valentine’s Day is almost here — a bittersweet holiday for human rights activists who have been campaigning to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. February 14th marks a tragic milestone for Shaker Aamer, one of the detainee cases Amnesty International has worked on for years now.
11 years on February 14, 2013. That’s how long Shaker Aamer has spent behind bars at Guantanamo Bay Prison, without charge, without trial – really, without hope.
Tonight President Obama will give his State of the Union address, the first of his new administration. Will he mention how he broke his promise to close Guantanamo? Will Shaker Aamer’s name come up? President Obama has been given four more years to shape a legacy worthy of his Nobel Peace Prize. But Shaker Aamer can’t wait any longer for justice.
“I am dying here every day, mentally and physically… We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean…” These were Aamer’s words in 2005. Eight years ago.
It shouldn’t be this way. The thing is, Shaker Aamer has been cleared for transfer by the U.S. government. The UK government says he should be freed to the arms of his wife and children in London.
Shaker has one child he’s never even met. His son is 11 years old.
President Obama claims to stand for human rights. It’s time he takes a stand on Guantanamo and ensures that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released. Even with the restrictions imposed by Congress on transfers of Guantanamo detainees, President Obama could send Shaker Aamer to his family in the UK. This MUST be the year Shaker’s case is resolved.
Shaker, 11 years later we cannot let you and others indefinitely detained in Guantanamo’s legal limbo be ignored. President Obama, as you’re giving your speech tonight, we ask you to think not only of the State of the Union, but of the State of Guantanamo. Think hard about your broken promise, about shattered lives like Shaker’s. Ponder the shameful impact of Guantanamo on human rights, international law – and your legacy.
Send President Obama a Valentine – a reminder of Shaker Aamer’s tragic anniversary, a reminder that this is another year gone by that Shaker Aamer has been held without concern for his human rights.
President Obama, have a heart.
Shaker Aamer’s valentine is one of 4 Amnesty human rights valentines you can send and share this year. Check them out at amnestyusa.org/valentines, and take action for human rights this Valentine’s Day!