Whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day or not this year, it's certainly difficult to ignore. Of all the articles that have been written about the event, and we have certainly run our fair share on HuffPost UK, I don't believe there are any as poignant or heart wrenching as our blog from Guantanamo Bay resident Shaker Aamer.
It's 14 February. In Britain it will be Valentine's Day. In 2002, it was the day I arrived in Guantánamo Bay, and the day my youngest child was born - Faris, whom I have never been allowed to touch... I have no doubt justice will prevail and the light of the truth will shine all over the world. What is happening to us and others is a small price for justice, peace, and happiness which will cover the whole world soon. Always, after total darkness, the sun rises again. I hope to see the sun of justice, peace, and happiness with my own eyes. It will be a great day. If I don't get to see that sun, please remember that I have endured all this in the name of Justice.
Well, not exactly a slave, but a slave of the Guantánamo system. I'm talking about Shaker Aamer, the former UK resident who is still - still - marooned at the notorious US detention centre in the Caribbean almost exactly 12 years after being taken there during the height of George W Bush's frenzied and law-breaking "war on terror".
One of the books that detainees at Guantánamo Bay are 50 Shades of Grey, the international bestseller from the US writer EL James. Could it be that the US military authorities have decided that James' erotic thriller is actually pornographic (so-called "mummy porn") and therefore unsuitable for the camp's 155 detainees?
They know what they are doing to me is wrong and that's why they are scared. It is not me they are worried about, but they have some metaphorical sense that their mother or father is going to see what they are up to, and wonder what has become of them. Instead of being a brave soldier, they have been reduced to the rank of 'Scrotum Searcher Third Class', and they are told to beat up a defenceless and shackled prisoner with the help of five of their tough buddies.
I sent Shaker Aamer the sermon Reverend Nicholas Mercer delivered in October which denounces the UK's involvement in the tortuous and horrifying tactics used in the 'war on terror' and its continued denial of justice to those still subjected to those same practices. Shaker, clearly touched, wrote back almost immediately.
Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be held by the United States in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, for over 11 years, is still yet to be released by the US government. One has to question why the US is taking so long to release Aamer despite the fact that he has been cleared for release over six years ago?
I know I will leave here one day, perhaps soon. I have long been cleared, for six years now. But what of the other men here? Again, I worry about the 80 people who have not been cleared more than I do about myself and the other 83 who have. Some might get a trial of sorts, but scores never will. They say it's because they can't use the evidence against them in court. Even if we believe this excuse, we might well ask why the evidence is inadmissible - is it because they tortured the men? If so, then a thousand years of experience tells us that the statements are certainly unreliable, and probably false.