Family and friends of Omar Deghayes – the Brighton man incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay for six years – are greeting with cautious optimism media reports that he and three other British detainees are soon to be released.
“We heard the news on Friday of last week,” Omar’s brother Abu Bakr Deghayes told Socialist Worker. “We’re now trying to find out more from the foreign office.
“As a family we’re cautious but happy at the same time. We haven’t had any letters from Omar for six months now, so we’re waiting to see what’s happening.
“If the British residents are being released it is good news and a victory for justice. Guantanamo Bay stands for injustice and oppression. So many people around the world have been campaigning for justice – I hope the tide is changing.”
According to the media reports Omar will be released and returned to Britain, along with Jamil el-Banna and Abdenour Samuer. Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer will return to his native Saudi Arabia.
However a fifth British resident, Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi, will remain imprisoned. Reports say the US authorities are insisting that Omar, Jamil and Abdenour be subjected to control orders – despite the fact that they have never been charged with any crime.
Omar’s case has been the subject of a high profile campaign in Brighton that has won support from the local paper, councillors and MPs. “We’re delighted that there seems to be some movement,” Jackie Chase from Save Omar told Socialist Worker.
“But nobody dares feel anything until we actually see him physically back here. And we’re intensely angry at how the US authorities think they can dictate how Omar will be treated once he’s back.
“They’ve already taken six years of his life. He’s been badly beaten, had his fingers crushed, an eye blinded and his guts are in a state from hunger striking. And we’re really concerned about Binyam Mohammed.”
Jackie says it is the movement that should take the credit for forcing the US and British governments to act. “There’s a swell of feeling against Guantanamo Bay, both here and in the US. People don’t want to be responsible for one of the world’s darkest torture camps.
“There have been challenges to the camp’s legality in the US courts, and now we hear how the CIA has destroyed two video tapes of their ‘interrogations’ because of the torture and abuse of detainees that they show.
“If Omar is released it will have has come about because of the campaign and the pressure we put on the authorities – not because of the legal system or politicians. The message is – don’t be afraid to campaign, even a small community like ours can make a difference.”