Norwich South MP Clive Lewis is joining fellow MPs and a host of celebrities in a hunger strike in support of Shaker Aamer – the last British detainee held at Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Lewis will fast for 24 hours on Monday October 26th as part of a new initiative launched this month by the “We Stand with Shaker” campaign www.westandwithshaker.org
Celebrities who have pledged to join the #FastForShaker hunger strike include comedian Frankie Boyle, Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance and actors Maxine Peake and David Morrissey.
Mr Lewis, who has long supported the campaign for Shaker’s release, said: “I have long supported the release of the British prisoner, Shaker Aamer, who has twice been approved for release from Guantánamo Bay and yet has remained imprisoned for over thirteen years.
“Our human rights are vital. Generations before us have fought for them and we continue to fight this government’s agenda in order to keep them in this country; but I will also continue to fight for the rights and justice for people like Shaker and others like him.”
Other campaigners planning to fast include Shaker’s family and his lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, the founder of human rights organisation Reprieve. Clive has previously fasted for seven days in support of Shaker and his fellow Guantanamo detainees.
Shaker was told on September 25th that he will be released and returned to his family in the UK after being held for nearly 14 years without charge or trial. Congress must give 30 days’ notice before any prisoner can be freed from Guantánamo and in the meantime he has embarked on a hunger strike protesting his constant and ongoing abuse. He fears that due to his weakened state he won't live to see his family again.
The hunger strike is intended to show solidarity with Shaker, to encourage him to give up his own hunger strike, and to keep up the pressure for his release. He could be freed as early as October 24th, but there is no guarantee he will be freed immediately.
Those taking part are choosing a day on which to stage a hunger strike, with celebrities and MPs already scheduled to fast through to the end of the month if necessary. Members of the public are invited to join them and make their pledge to fast on the campaign web site: www.fastforshaker.org.uk
Supporters have pledged that they will continue to hunger strike Shaker is freed.
In the US, Witness Against Torture and Code Pink are also mobilising supporters to become involved in the hunger strike.
Shaker Aamer's family said: "Thank you all so much for taking part in this fasting. We are touched. Our family we will be joining in the fasts with all of you. Let’s all bring Shaker home."
John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor and the founder and co-chair of the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, said: "I stand in solidarity with Shaker in the determined hope that he is released soon to return to his family."
Andy Worthington, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said: "After the great news that Shaker Aamer is to be released from Guantánamo, we were all disturbed to discover that he is on a hunger strike, and wanted to show solidarity with him, and to encourage him to give up his hunger strike.
“We very much hope that he will be released at the end of the 30-day period required by Congress before prisoners can be freed, but we will continue with the hunger strike if he is not. After nearly 14 years in US custody, treated brutally and never charged or tried, Shaker needs to be back with his family in London.”
Joanne MacInnes, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said: “"I hope our Fast For Shaker will give him a great boost knowing that so many of us, MPs, campaigners, Muslim leaders, artists and the public care deeply what happens to him.
“We want to send a message to Shaker and the authorities at Guantánamo that we will not tolerate the abuse and humiliation of Shaker and other prisoners. We have his back! And we expect to have him returned no later than the 25th - hopefully a bit stronger mentally and physically because of our act of solidarity. We hope he lets us take over his protest allowing him to get better.”