OVER THE WEEKEND, PJ Harvey posted a brand new song via her website pjharvey.net which bears the name of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be detained in controversial US prison Guantanamo Bay. Saudi-born Aamer travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 to work for an Islamic charity shortly before the US invaded the country. He was captured by local North Alliance forces and handed over to the Americans who accused him of being “recruiter, financier and facilitator” for Al Qaeda. Aamer was subjected to torture but ultimately no charges were brought against him.
Aamer has now been incarcerated for over 11 years while his British wife and four children have remained in Battersea, South London. While the British government initially refused to intervene on the grounds that Aamer was a British resident rather than a British citizen, subsequent appeals for his release from assorted governmental figures and bodies as well as human rights campaigners have proved futile.
“We hope that people listen to this song and think about Shaker Aamer’s plight.” Clive Stafford-Smith
Writing on Harvey’s website, Clive Stafford-Smith, Reprieve’s director and lawyer for Shaker Aamer, said: “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.”
Harvey’s song – which recalls her latest work, Let England Shake, in mood and music – pulls no punches lyrically: “With metal tubes we are force fed / I honestly wish I was dead.” The words are printed on the SoundCloud page from which the track can be downloaded for free.