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Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Fax: +44 20 7839 2417
Dear Mr Straw
Re: British Residents in Guantanamo Bay
I am writing with regard to the continued indefinite detention and imprisonment without charge of British residents in Guantanamo Bay. It has been over three years since these men were initially detained.
There are between 8 and 9 British residents being held. These include Bishar-al-Rawi, Jamil-al-Banna, Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, Jamal Abdullah, Jamal Kiyemba, Binyam Mohammed and Omar Deghayes. All these men have close family members who are British citizens and have themselves lived in the UK for many years. Many of these men came to Britain fleeing persecution in countries such as Iraq or Libya, believing the UK would be a place of refuge for them.
All detainees without exception who have been released from Guantanamo have complained of enduring beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced injections, and other physical and psychological mistreatment. Amnesty International recently described the detention facility as the “gulag of our times”. Lawyers for the detainees have reported that men’s mental health is rapidly deteriorating. Two hundred of the detainees, including the British residents, are currently in their fifth week of hunger strike in protest at their treatment.
It is shocking to think that British residents can be held in such inhumane conditions without charge while our government refuses to assist them or procure their release. The argument that it is for the governments of Saudi Arabia, Libya and Jordan to appeal for the detainees as they are citizens of these countries is illogical and perverse; it is these very governments which forced the men to flee to Britain.
I urge you to make representations to your American counterpart on behalf of these detainees. I request that you please write to me when you have done so.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding the immediate action you have taken in this matter.