Faith Matters warmly welcomes the release of Shaker Aamer after 14 long years. Many of them were spent in the legal black hole that is Guantanamo and it is clear that the long periods of solitary confinement have also had an impact on his mental and physical health.
Yet, it should never have come to this given that Aamer was cleared for release in 2007. It has taken a further 7 years for his actual release and now that he is back in the UK, no doubt questions will again be raised as to the possible complicity of UK intelligence services in the torture of Aamer. Only time will tell whether these allegations are true or not.
Guantanamo Bay should have been shut down a long time ago and President Obama’s political assertions that he would close the site down, have come to nothing. The site still continues to operate albeit in a scaled down manner when compared to the Bush period in office. However, what cannot be denied is that many see Guantanamo as a relic of the past, a period of time when the ‘War on Terror’ was in full swing.
According to Dick Cheney, the former Vice President in the Bush administration, ‘the worst of the worst‘ were being held in Guantanamo. That view is not accepted by some today and the example of Aamer counters this view given that he was not charged and that he has sat in legal limbo for over a decade. The incarceration of individuals in Guantanamo without any charges being laid against them has been unacceptable and due process should have been carried out many years ago. Instead, many individuals like Aamer were forgotten and left incarcerated in the hole of Guantanamo.
We hope over time, we can close the dark chapter that is Guantanamo . The last decade has been a difficult one for many communities and we hope that the future provides hope and peace and stability for us all.