The Green Party continues to lend its unqualified support to the campaign to free Shaker Ammar the last UK detainee in Guantanamo Bay and for the closure of Camp Delta and the removal of all prisoners held therein without trial.
Justice delayed is justice denied, and throughout history nations and their governments have defied international law to punish and imprison the innocent whilst maintaining their own misplaced commitment to democratic freedoms and human rights.
My own political timeline is marked out in such campaigns. My very first political act was as a fund raiser for the ANC helping to raise funds and bring world attention to the plight of Black South Africans held without trial under Apartheid for crimes that they had never committed.
In the 1980’s whilst in the Labour Party I also remember well the campaigns we fought to free the Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4, all innocent victims of the British Government collusion to punish the innocent borne out of the governments need to find individuals guilty at any cost to use as scapegoats in their war against terror.
But Guantanamo Bay of course is very different to these earlier imprisonments, miscarriages of justice and freedom, because it involves the complicity and almost certain involvement of multiple governments not just as above just one.
These earlier examples however do have two familiar components,
First of all they involved governments and heads of state willing to breach International Law and the Geneva Convention in order to deprive the innocent of their liberty.
Secondly they then relied on a dominant or mass public being either disinterested, ignorant or suspicious as to the guilt of those being locked away.
Few would now question Madeba’s, the late Nelson Mandela’s innocence, but too few at the time of his arrest and detention were willing to fight for his freedom. Equally at the height of the troubles too many in Britain wanted scapegoats and people to punish to ever lead them to question the innocence of those convicted.
But whilst Guantanamo is very different to the past plights of political prisoners in South Africa or the UK , and whilst it is clear that all those held are held without access to trial, we must still find that that we need to do more to educate inform and explain the facts to the wider world public.
I congratulate the Shaker Aamar campaign for their excellent work in this area and in the production of their “Who am I” video released last year, but after 12 years and too many broken promises I ask once more that we redouble our efforts to expose the lies of the USA and to defend the innocence of those still held.
Any man or Women has the right to answers to four simple fundamental questions when threatened with incarceration.
Why have I been deprived of my liberty?
How can I defend myself against any charges brought against me?
How can I appeal against any miscarriage of justice?
How is it that I can secure my freedom?
The innocent in Camp Delta have been denied any answers to any of those questions since day one of their captivity.
The last question however is the one we must concentrate so hard on today, how can we collectively secure the freedom of those detained against a US government who having accepted the innocence of those held, having given individuals promises of their release, having pledged to close the facility, still carry on their torture and their beatings regardless of world opinion?
There are of course just two reasons left for the failure of President Obama to live up to his promise made in 2010 to close Guantanamo Bay, the first I reject the second I hold to be true.
I reject the idea and perceived threat that by torturing and beating those innocent of any crime that the US has made terrorists out of torture. Of course the few who were arrested as combatants may go on to fight against their captors again, but for the innocent all they wish to do is to return to their families and to live in peace. Having offered passage to Shaker Aamer to return home to his family, successive British Governments have failed to convince the US government of our ability to ensure those released will not take up arms against them? Why this is so it is hard to believe? Of the 14 British detainees so far released the sum total of their crimes committed since return to British Soil is a solitary speeding ticket. So no the threat of future action against the USA is not a valid or credible reason to deny their release, so we are left with only one conclusion.
That is that by their release the remaining detainees will expose and implicate members of international security services including those in the UK who were complicit in the arrests, tortures and beatings which occurred within Camp Delta cages. They are being held simply because they now know too much.
It is for this reason that we must now redouble our efforts to fight for their release but also to be prepared to expose and campaign against the complicity of those whose actions assisted the USA in their crime , and that fight will go far beyond the closure of Guantanamo Bay and Bagram and every other known and unknown detention centres where the hidden and disappeared and are cruelly harmed
We are not the lawmakers, nor are we served with orders to protect the law against itself, we are the campaigners, the public voice, the voice of those unable to speak out, and therefore it is the spirit and not just the form of law that will keep justice alive.
Justice is not a freely given freedom, it is a fought for at each and every step, at each and every turn at each and every demonstration when good people refuse to simply stand aside and ignore the plight of the innocent.
Together, today in unison we fight that good fight.