PJ Harvey has released a new single in support of Shaker Aamer, the last remaining British resident in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. Aamer was arrested in 2001 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and has been detained since 2002. He has been held for over 11 years without trial or charge, despite being cleared for release by Bush in 2007 and Obama in 2009. “He has four British children – the youngest of whom he has never met – and a British wife who all live in London,” reads PJ Harvey’s website. “The UK government has repeatedly stated that they want Shaker back in the UK and last week the US announced it is to restart transfers from the prison, beginning with two Algerian men. Yet Shaker remains locked away without charge or trial. He is one of over half the detainees on hunger strike in protest at their indefinite and illegal detention.”
Clive Stafford Smith, director of Guantánamo prisoner rights organizatio Reprieve and lawyer for Shaker Aamer, told The Guardian:
“We hope that people listen to this song and think about Shaker Aamer’s plight: detained for eleven long years at Guantanamo, without charge or trial – despite having been cleared for release by both Bush and Obama. The UK Government must do everything it can to bring Shaker back home to his wife and kids in London, where he belongs. PJ Harvey has written a wonderful song – I know Shaker will be deeply moved by it – and I only hope that, with the support of the public, he will one day be able to listen to it in freedom.”
As Harvey’s song reflects, Aamer has been involved in various hunger strikes over the years to protest the detention conditions, and says he has been subject to torture while in detention. “I am dying here every day, mentally and physically,” Aamer wrote to his wife in 2006. “This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for years.”
Stream the song and the read the lyrics below.
Lyrics for “Shaker Aamer”
“No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.
Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?
With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.
Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.”
In Camp 5, eleven years.
Never charged. Six years cleared.
“They took away my one note pad,
and then refused to give it back.
I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend Shaker Aamer. Lost.
The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.
Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker. Guantanamo Bay.”