Obama Vetoes NDAA, DoJ Defends Imprisonment of 75-Pound Hunger Striker, and the Fast For Shaker Aamer
Dear friends and supporters,
Last week there was some good news regarding Guantánamo, when President Obama vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016, which contained provisions that would have made it more difficult for him to release prisoners from Guantánamo, and to close the prison for good before he leaves office. Andy Worthington wrote about this development in his latest article, "Finally, President Obama Vetoes Defense Bill That Contains Onerous Guantánamo Restrictions
As he states in the conclusion of his article, "Now that President Obama has taken the step to issue a veto, we look forward to hearing that lawmakers will respond in a responsible and dignified manner, and will, as the president urged in his Veto Notice, work with him to close Guantánamo, and not against him, to keep it open. The prison needs to be permanently closed by the time President Obama leaves office, not just for his legacy, but also because every day it remains open is a blot on the U.S.'s claim to be a nation that respects the rule of law."
We will keep you posted as Congress responds to this important veto.
Last week, Andy also provided an update on the case of Tariq Ba Odah, a Yemeni hunger striker, who weighs just 75 pounds, and who is asking a judge to order his release -- six years, it should noted, after a high-level, inter-agency U.S. government review process approved him for release.
Andy's article is entitled, "Obama's Mixed Messages on Guantánamo, as Justice Department Tells Judge Not to Intervene in Case of 75-Pound Hunger Striker at Risk of Death
," and it raises important questions -- about why lawyers in the Civil Division of the Justice Department are so committed to doing all they can to prevent the release of a single prisoner, and why President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch have not intervened to provide some much-needed direction to the lawyers, given that their actions so often run contrary to the administration's efforts to close Guantánamo.
In the last two weeks, Andy has also, with his U.K. colleague Joanne MacInnes, initiated a campaign to secure international support for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, approved for release in 2007 and 2009, but still held. Andy and Jo set up We Stand With Shaker
last year, which we wrote about here
, and which played a part in exerting sufficient pressure on the U.S. government that, on September 25, President Obama told the British Prime Minister David Cameron that Shaker would be released and returned to the U.K.
During the ensuing 30-day notification period required by Congress, Shaker told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that he was on a hunger strike, and that he feared he wouldn't leave Guantánamo alive. In response, Andy and Jo set up Fast For Shaker
, encouraging supporters around the world to fast for 24 hours, on a day of their choosing, in solidarity with Shaker, and to keep up the pressure for his release. Over 400 people have pledged to fast, and we encourage you to join them
. The 30-day notification period has now passed, but Shaker is not yet free. The authorities claim that there are minor logistical delays, but Fast For Shaker is continuing until he is freed, and reunited with his family in London. After all, a man still held eight years after he was first told he would be going home has reason to mistrust his captors.
Check out the photos of supporters here
With thanks, as ever, for your support.
The "Close Guantánamo" team
P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us
-- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here
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