Harry Ferguson, a former British intelligence officer, has embarked on a week-long hunger strike in support of Guantanamo detainees – in particular British resident Shaker Aamer.
Writing on his blog, Mr Ferguson has described his first day of the fast – which he is undertaking in solidarity with prisoners at the US camp who are hunger-striking in protest against their ongoing detention without charge or trial:
“All this only serves to remind me of what Shaker and the other prisoners are going through. I have my family, especially my children, to support me…Shaker has four children and he has been separated from them for more than ten years...How is it possible to withstand that kind of pain, never knowing when or even if it will ever end? And all this for a man who has never even been charged with a crime, let alone convicted. What happened to our supposed standards of justice in the Western world?”
Mr Ferguson also notes that, unlike those in Guantanamo, “I don’t have to face the horror of someone ramming a steel-tipped feeding tube down my throat.”
Earlier this year, Shaker Aamer – who has been cleared for release by the US Government – described the process: “The force-feeding itself is simple torture. Now they are using the metal-tipped tubes, forcing them in and pulling them out twice a day, leaving people vomiting on themselves in the restraint chair, and so forth.”
Explaining his motives for taking up the protest earlier this week, Mr Ferguson said: “As an MI6 officer I took part in the struggle against terrorism and other threats to the UK and US. I am not some ‘bleeding heart’ liberal who believes that harsh measures are never justified. But I am ashamed that an organisation of which I was once proud to be a member now supports policies including assassination, rendition, torture and detention without trial.”
Mr Aamer has a British wife and four British children – the youngest of whom he has never met – in South London. Prime Minister David Cameron has asked President Obama to allow him to return home to the UK, but Mr Aamer remains detained in Guantanamo – despite having been cleared by the US Government, along with more than half of the 166 prisoners who remain there.
Mr Aamer is represented by attorneys at the human rights charity Reprieve. Reprieve's Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “Harry’s protest sends a powerful message about just how far British and American intelligence agencies have strayed from the principles they are meant to protect. It is disgraceful that Shaker is still being held beyond the rule of law.”