“Shut Guantanamo now!” demonstration in London, 15 July 2006

by Stephen Hewitt | Published 6 November 2020

Man holding a microphone with others in front of large building with USA flag on top
15 July 2006: Public speeches about Guantanamo prisoners, outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London
Man outside holding a microphone and small slip of paper
15 July 2006: Barrister Hugo Charlton speaking outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London at a demonstration about the USA's prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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.

Omar Deghayes was subsequently freed in December 2007.

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.)


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