“Shut Guantanamo now!” demonstration in London, 15 July 2006
by Stephen Hewitt | Published 6 November 2020
On Saturday 15 July 2006, the National Guantanamo Coalition (http://www.guantanamo.org.uk/) held a demonstration in London requesting the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay.
After a short march from Marble Arch to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square (see map) , the small crowd was addressed by numerous speakers including Victoria Brittain, co-author with Moazzam Begg of a book Enemy Combatant, Amani Deghayes, Yvonne Ridley, Ghada Razuk of the Stop the War Coalition, Azzam Tamimi, George Galloway MP, barrister Hugo Charlton and others. In total, speeches outside the embassy lasted for over an hour and a half.
Omar Deghayes from Brighton was one of the British residents known to be imprisoned in Guantanamo. His sister, Amani, speaking with a perfect Home counties accent and wearing a T shirt with the web address http://www.save-omar.org.uk/ , told how when she was 8 years old, their mother had fled with five children from Libya to Britain.
Shortly after her speech it was announced that she and Jackie were going to take a petition to the embassy and a policewoman stepped forward to open the fence between the crowd and the embassy. This petition was for an independent inquiry into the deaths of prisoners at Guantanamo and for its closure.
George Galloway spoke, amongst other things, of the case of Babar Ahmad. He said that he had become a friend of Ahmad's family and that he totally believed in his innocence. The final speaker was barrister Hugo Charlton from CAMPACC.
The organisers then announced that they would be proceeding to the Home Office via Marble Arch. Here a petition was to be handed in demanding that Britain ensures the safe return to Britain of the British residents still in Guantanamo. I didn't see how many (if any) dispersed from Grosvenor Square, but I counted about 215 people still with the march as it continued towards Marble Arch.
(An earlier version of this article was published in 2006 on Indymedia.)
- Photos outside Babar Ahmad extradition hearing 18 April 2005 Bow Street Magistrates Court, London (11 pictures)
- Photos of demonstration for Palestine, London, 2006 Saturday 20 May 2006, Embankment to Trafalgar Square (7 photographs)
- Guardian article: How I fought to survive Guantánamo Patrick Barkham, Guardian, 21 January 2010
- A Message from Omar Deghayes on the 11th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo 11 January 2013, Andy Worthington
- The Express Tribune article: Six years in hell Fahad Faruqui, The Express Tribune, 29 April 2012
- Photographs: “Shut Guantanamo now! Home Office, London” 15 July 2006, mylondondiary.co.uk, Peter Marshall
- Guardian article: Torture testimony 'acceptable' Audrey Gillan, Guardian, 22 July 2003, page 2 (US official confirmation of murder in CIA's Bagram prison)