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Well past time for justice

Barack Obama pledged five years ago that he would close the illegal torture camp on Cuban soil, but Guantanamo exists to this day.

If our politicians had shown as much application in requesting the release of Shaker Aamer as they do thinking of ways to squeeze poor people's benefits, he would have been home with his family years ago.

British prime ministers congratulate themselves on their "special relationship" with US presidents, but it's clearly a one-way arrangement.

In what other country could a British resident be denied trial or even charge for 12 years without the British government making a fuss?

Barack Obama pledged five years ago that he would close the illegal torture camp on Cuban soil, but Guantanamo exists to this day.

Conditions within the camp are so hellish that more inmates have committed suicide than have been put on trial.

What justification can there be for persisting with the lawless separation of Aamer from his family in Britain?

Yet Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson's response to a question in the House of Commons last month about the Guantanamo inmates' hunger strike was complacent in the extreme.

"The British government continues to note reports regarding the hunger strike at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," Robertson wrote.

"We maintain an active dialogue with the US government regarding humanitarian issues at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and remain committed to assisting the US in its aim to close the facility."

Dialogue there may be, but it has self-evidently not been as active as it needs to be.

Nor is this surprising when the minister gave credence to the farcical claim that David Cameron's government is helping Obama in his quest to close the camp.

If the US administration wants to shut Guantanamo, who or what prevents it from doing so?

It's certainly not the Cuban government, which would be delighted to bid farewell to all the US armed forces occupying its land in defiance of Cuban sovereignty and the island's popular will.

US politicians are victims of their own propaganda. They claimed that the prisoners held at Guantanamo were some kind of terrorist elite.

This was never true, but such lies made it difficult to persuade US national opinion of the need to release them or even to put them on trial in US courts.

Even the US has had to admit that it has no case against Aamer, yet he remains in shackles at Guantanamo.

If our government refuses to raise its voice in his support, then it is up to the people to pierce the silence and demand his immediate release.

Lammy shame

It's a matter for David Lammy himself whether he attends events in his own constituency.

But the Tottenham MP's comments justifying his no-show at the vigil organised by the Duggan family outside the local police station were provocative and inaccurate.

Lammy had first warned people intent on causing trouble not to attend the vigil and then justified his absence on his refusal to "share a platform with anarchist groups and people that don't accept that a jury laboured and reached a decision."

He should acknowledge that, despite scare stories from him and the police, the event outside the police station passed off quietly as the Duggan family had asked.

The MP should accept that everyone has a democratic right to challenge jury decisions without having their motives impugned.

His pomposity underlines that he is not a patch on his predecessor, the late Bernie Grant.


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