Tag Archive: Guantanamo


Remembering Guantanamo

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As the majority of the western world glues itself to the television to get the latest updates on the US Presidential election, a group of British protesters gathered outside the US embassy today to remember those connected to an issue that the Obama administration long seems to have forgotten about.

Yesterday, The London Guantanamo Campaign hosted its event “Demo, Truth and Justice The American Way” which consisted of speakers and entertainers who highlighted the on going human rights abuses conducted by the US and UK governments in Guantanamo Bay.

The event was attended by people like Ilyas Townsend(Justice for Aafia Campaign) who talked about the history of colonialism and it’s contemporary manifestations, Chris Nineham(Stop the War Coalition) who talked about our need to oppose Guantanamo and the connection between Islamophobia and the war in terror and Joy Hurcombe(Save Shaker Aamer Campaign) who spoke of their fight to free Britains last remaining Guantanamo detainee.

But for me the most interesting speech was from Aviva Stahl(CagePrisoners) who highlighted the intrusive entrapment methods of the FBI responsible for radicalising Muslims. This was particularly relevant to my previous article which was an interview with documentary film maker Roshan Muhammad Salih and his investigations of MI5’s intelligence gathering operation of the Muslim community in the UK.

It was a very inspirational event to be involved in, seeing people stand up for the right of others but there is another thing that I learnt. Although it is important to resist the current war on terror, we have to understand that this is simply an evolution of the cold war. Therefore our response to the war on terror must also evolve if we are to take our activism to new powerful heights and ensure that our children and our children’s children have a fighting chance in stopping imperialism and racism in all of its forms.

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Yesterday, CagePrisoners hosted an event called ‘Caged in the USA‘ which included discussions and talks from community activist Lee Jasper, former Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, activist and brother of Talha Ahsan, Hamja Ahsan and ex-US political prisoner and black panther Robert King.

As an observer the event itself highlighted the similarities and the differences between the imprisonment of political prisoners due to the war on terror and the imprisonment of other political prisoners in earlier era’s.

All the speakers and panelists highlighted the same challenges that Muslim and non-Muslim communities face when it comes to the issue of terrorism and the police. Robert King spoke about how the black community were treated as slaves and this has evolved in to the American justice system and Omar Deghayes complimented what Robert King said when he mentioned the Guantanamo inmates are treated as sub-humans and as slaves. The input from Hamja Ahsan and Lee Jasper bought in to the Event the importance of the community to tackle social, economic and political issues and the hypocrisy of the UK government regarding the Extradition of Talha Ahsan.

But one thing that CagePrisoners mentioned was that the Home Office PREVENT department called them and the Karibu Centre to stop the event. Why?

Since there was no promotion of any radical ideology at the event and all that was discussed were issues pertaining to the War on Terror (which is what all CagePrisoner events are known for) it seems to me that the Home Office is acting on the findings by discredited think tanks such as the Quilliam Foundation and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

CagePrisoners act to give a voice to the voiceless and although they might represent some political prisoners who’s opinions I do not agree with, I stick with the principle that no one is above justice and that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing, whether that is Abu Hamza or (if he were to be arrested) the EDL’s Stephen Lennon.

This does not make CagePrisoners an inherently extremist organisation neither but what CagePrisoners have done via events like this is to help open a platform where political issues can be discussed, progressive ideas can be exchanged and civic participation and lawful activism can be encouraged. During these times where the UK governments double standards is plain for all to see organisations that give young activists the platform to air their views and get involved should be encouraged and supported.

But the Home Office PREVENT departments attempt to close the event shows to me a frightening reality that far from preventing violent extremism, it actually tried to prevent any form of political dissent.