Shaker Aamer: 'I Want to Hug My Children and Watch Them as They Grow'
In these poignant words from Guantánamo (written in 2013), Shaker Aamer reveals the pain of being separated from his family
By Shaker Aamer / theguardian.com
Sep 25, 2015
Shaker Aamer, photographed in 2012 at Guantanamo Bay
 Shaker Aamer, photographed in 2012 at Guantanamo Bay. Photograph: Clemency Wells /Reprieve

April 2013 - As of today, I've spent more than 11 years in Guantánamo Bay. To be precise, it's been 4,084 long days and nights. I've never been charged with any crime. I've never been allowed to see the evidence that the US once pretended they had against me. It's all secret, even the statements they tortured out of me.

In 2007, roughly halfway through my ordeal, I was cleared for release by the Bush administration. In 2009, under Obama, all six of the US frontline intelligence agencies combined to clear me again. But I'm still here.

Every day in Guantánamo is torture – as was the time they held me before that, in Bagram and Kandahar air force bases, in Afghanistan. It's not really the individual acts of abuse (the strappado – that's the process refined by the Spanish Inquisition where they hang you from your wrists so your shoulders begin to dislocate, the sleep deprivation, and the kicks and punches); it's the combined experience. My favourite book here (I've read it over and over) has been Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: torture is for torture, and the system is for the system.

More than a decade of my life has been stolen from me, for no good reason. I resent that; of course I do. I have missed the birth of my youngest son, and some of the most wonderful years with all my four children. I love being a father, and I always worked to do it as best I can.

So obviously I want to go home to London. Of course I do. But I am never going to beg. If I have to die here, I want my children to know that I died for a principle, without bowing to my abusers. I have been on hunger strike for more than 60 days now. I have lost nearly a quarter of my body weight. I barely notice all of my medical ailments any more – the back pain from the beatings I have taken, the rheumatism from the frigid air conditioning, the asthma exacerbated by the toxic sprays they use to abuse us. There is an endless list. And now, 24/7 (as the Americans say), I have the ache of hunger.

Have you ever tried going without food for 24 hours? Today, I am on my 68th day. But a man in my block has been on strike since 2005. Can you imagine it? He's only alive today because the Americans force-feed him, preventing him from making that ultimate statement of principle, the same one they have on their New Hampshire licence plates: "Give me freedom, or give me death."

In truth, while I am horrified by the suffering around me, I am also encouraged. There is more solidarity among the prisoners than ever before. The military is not being honest about the number of men on strike: most of us are refusing to eat. The military responds with violence, as if that will break us; it draws us all together.

Now they are sending in the goon squad (the Forcible Cell Extraction, or FCE, team) to beat me up every time I ask for something, whether it is my medicine, a bottle of water or the right to shower. That only reinforces my resolve. And my lawyer tells me there are people out there who care, that more than 100,000 people back home in Britain have signed a petition demanding that parliament should debate my case.

I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children and watch them as they grow. But if it is God's will that I should die here, I want to die with dignity. I hope, if the worst comes to the worst, that my children will understand that I cared for the rights of those suffering around me almost as much as I care for them.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 14,998 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 12,998 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
What Is My Activism Really About? to Love, Serve and Remember
Tim Hjersted · 5,665 views today · I have made a promise to this world that I will carry with me to my last days. It is my vow to lessen the suffering of the world while I am here - it is to ensure that every...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,474 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,151 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 1,551 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 1,407 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 997 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 678 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 655 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 590 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 550 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 534 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 481 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 386 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 311 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn't Learn About In History class
Kathleen Harris · 311 views today · We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts...
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 284 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 276 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 249 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Shaker Aamer: 'I Want to Hug My Children and Watch Them as They Grow'