All the Muslims I know are so reasonable even ice cream doesn’t melt in their mouths. Guantanamo seems like the ultimate wind up to exasperate the coolest. The idea was to arbitrarily buy up innocent Muslim men, blame them for 9/11, beat, torture and humiliate them and abduct them to an offshore legal black hole where anything goes. 800 passed through with 166 stragglers remaining and a handful even possibly guilty of something.
The torture machine has stalled and those told they would be released 6 years ago remain caged. Guards become more vicious and treatment more pernicious. Prisoners take the only action available – hunger strike. The US state is intransigently determined to perpetuate the absurd illegality of imprisoning the innocent. One assumes because they are innocent Muslims. What else?
At hunger strike’s 100th day frail bodies are at breaking point. Painful force-feeding is imposed. Now it is easier to escape Guantanamo dead than alive. What can I, a solitary individual do?
I am already well known in my local Muslim community. I write to all the local papers saying I shall be on hunger strike on 17 May, dawn to dusk – not obviously visual.
|I take a chair and placard telling of the hunger strike and my old friend Shaker Aamer’s involvement after 11 years’ gratuitous brutality.|
I have banners – “I AM WAITING 11 YEARS FOR SHAKER AAMER” and “GUANTANANOMORE” in dazzling colours.
|I sit outside the Mosque – they know me – they mob me – we take photographs – everyone takes photographs - everyone now knows about the hunger strike!|
|We say goodbye. I move on to Kingston town centre and sit for half an hour outside Marks and Spencer. A small crowd gathers. Some ask questions. Many are curious. The colours and messages help. We photograph. Passersby nod agreement.|
|I move on to the Parish Church. All religions should be concerned that those of one particular faith have been singled out. I have already told the Parish Priest. He knows the story. The bus queue turn round attracted by the banners. Some are curious as they hurry by.|
|I walk round to the Synagogue. I am Jewish. Jews know something about persecution. I already told the Rabbi about Shaker Aamer over coffee at his house. The Synagogue in a quiet backstreet has no signs. I sit down and show my placard and banners. |
Soon a man appears from nowhere, asks what we are doing. He seems satisfied and goes inside. No passersby here. Suddenly a car draws up and the passenger gets out to see what I am doing. Jews are nervous of attacks. Israel isn’t popular. Do they have surveillance cameras? I explain myself. They drive off happy. We photograph.
|I have been campaigning about Shaker Aamer, from an area near me, for five or six years. Nothing changes but we keep up the protest in as many ways as we can. This has been one of them. I know his wife and children and I promised his fellow charity worker, Moazzam Begg - since released, that I wouldn’t rest till Shaker’s home. I won’t.|
Unlike the USA I have done something positive for race relations and peace this day.
Noel Hamel -- Chair, Kingston Peace Council/CND
Photos with higher resolution available from Charles or Noel.