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PJ Harvey’s new song for Guantánamo prisoner Shaker Aamer

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Via Dangerous Minds:

Shaker Aamer is a Saudi citizen who was living in South London with his British wife and children up until he was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay detention camp eleven years ago. He was cleared for release in 2007 and has yet to be even charged with a crime. Despite having worked as a translator for the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, the US has refused to send him back to the UK, despite his requested delivery multiple times. There are also concerns the US may deport him to Saudi Arabia instead of back to his family in England. Aamer has recently reported sexual assault from prison guards and regular violence. He has been on a hunger strike for the past four months.

PJ Harvey makes no bones about deromanticizing the glories of war. Her 2011 album, Let England Shake was a brutally disheartening examination of Britain during wartime—she actually did extensive research on the Gallipoli Campaign and sought out first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan for inspiration. It’s one thing to speak on the horrors of war (even the most bloodthirsty of hawks do that) and quite another to object to a specific political injustice in defiance of powerful institutions.

Aamer’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, told The Guardian:

“We hope people listen to this song and think about Shaker Aamer’s plight: detained for 11 years, 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.”

PJ Harvey was recently awarded an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

“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.”

Don’t forget.

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