How would you feel if you were accused of a crime you didn't commit, if you were taken away from your family and had never laid eyes on your unborn child? How would you feel if you were declared innocent but deprived of your right to freedom without a valid explanation? If you want to know the answer to these questions ask Shaker Aamer, a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident to be held by the United States in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. He was captured in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on 24 November 2001 and was brought to Guantánamo on 14 February 2002, where he has now been held for 11 years without charge.
The Bush administration acknowledged that it had no evidence to charge Aamer with any wrong doing and has not given an explanation as to why Aamer is still detained. However, Aamer is yet to even receive his basic right to a trial and his lawyer says he is totally innocent.
He was cleared for release by the Bush administration back in 2007 and the Obama administration in 2009 so why is he still being detained in Guantanamo? The violation of human rights is evident in the case of Aamer who has not been able to see his family for 11 years and has undergone extreme mental and physical torture in his time at Guantanamo bay.
Amnesty International has called for Aamer to be freed and brought home. When Obama became president he vowed to close Guantanamo but actions speak louder than words; Guantanamo remains open without the release of innocent prisoners such as Aamer.
More heart wrenching still, are the countless pleas from Aamer's children which have gone unheard by the US government. His children wrote letters to President Obama in the hope that their voices would be heard after his re-election. "My dad is still in prison, and even though he has been cleared for release he's been tortured," Michael, 13, wrote. "I find it very difficult without my dad. I can feel how hard it is for my mum." Mr Aamer's daughter, Johina, 15, added: "Why don't you imagine being locked up for 11 years of your life and possibly more years to come. Try imagining being treated like a circus animal in a cage and being taken away from your home and everyone you love."
One has to question the plight of his children, of his family and the people close to him. We live in a world where we can see injustices with our eyes but we are often powerless to do anything about it because the real power lies with the government, the people who we rely on to make a positive change.
There are many obstacles that we need to overcome in order to expose the intolerances of governments and the many accounts of human rights violations that remain in the world today. Powerful states continually manipulate the law and conceal their crimes from international criticism for their own political advantage, which makes it increasingly difficult for people to be brought to justice. Shaker Aamer has never been found to have committed a crime and therefore he is innocent. He should be allowed the freedom he deserves and be brought back to reunite with his family. There needs to be more emphasis on freeing Aamer from the UK government in order to bring justice for Shaker and get him the freedom that he deserves.
The 2009 Interim Secretary General of Amnesty International, Claudio Cordone, emphasized the importance of accountability of violation of human rights in a statement and said,
"Ensuring accountability is important because, first and foremost, those who have suffered harm have a right to truth and justice. Accountability also allows us to look ahead. It provides a measure of deterrence for those who commit crimes, and it provides a basis on which to build reforms of state and international institutions. Efficient and effective mechanisms for accountability can help states make better policies and laws, and monitor their impact on people's lives."
The US government needs to give answers and take responsibility for the injustice of depriving Shaker Aamer of the freedom and life he deserves with his family.
This article was first published on Islam Channel