Edinburgh meeting - stop torture

Edinburgh meeting calls for an end to Guantanamo, torture and rendition

Over 100 people attended a public meeting in Edinburgh's Augustine Church on Thursday 16 November to mark the fourth anniversary of the kidnap, rendition and imprisonment of Jamil El-Banna and Bisher El-Rawi.

Messages from Jahida Sayyadi, mother of Guantanamo detainee Bisher Al-Rawi, from Amani Deghayes, sister of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes and from Sabah El-Banna, wife of Guantanamo detainee Jamil El-Banna were read out at the start of the meeting.

It was pointed out that the Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty had noted in his report on rendition that Jamil El-Banna's interogators had made "shameful threats against his [Jamil's] family living in London." Dick Marty - a hard-bitten former Swiss judge who made his name investigating organised crime - added in a footnote to his report "I prefer not to quote this extremely upsetting testimony."The meeting was told that Sabbah El-Banna had received an unprecedented phone call from her husband just before Eid - which she called "happy and surprising news, which was painful as well."

Due to technical difficulties our showing of the film "Outlawed" had to be halted after a few minutes, but our two speakers - Craig Murray and Aamer Anwar - held the audience spell-bound without any help from the big screen.

Jim Aitken read the poem "Prison Cell" by his friend Ghazi Hussein, a Palestinian refugee and survivor of prison and torture.

Glasgow lawyer Aamer Anwar called the refusal of Scottish police to act upon evidence that aircraft involved in rendition have been using Scottish airports a "cop-out." Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said that the authorities would act soon enough of there was comparable evidence of aircraft being involved in drug-dealing. He said out that aircraft involved in rendition might well be carrying shackles and other equipment that would be revealed in a police search even if no prisoners were aboard the aircraft. It was pointed out that the Scottish Trades Union had unanimously passed a resolution calling for action over rendition flights at this year's annual conference.

People attending the meeting were urged to press their MSPs to support a motion recently tabled in the Scottish Parliament by Frances Curran MSP (SSP) asking " the UK Government to act to uphold the human rights of all those detained in Guantanamo Bay and, in particular, those whose normal place of residence is the United Kingdom."

There will be a further (attempted) screening of the film "Outlawed" in Dundee on Wednesday 6 December. The meeting is being hosted by Dundee Trades Union Council with support from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities and will be held at 7.45pm in Committee Room 4, 14 City Square, Dundee.

A briefing distibuted to attendees at the Edinburgh meeting can be downloaded at www.sacc.org.uk/sacc/docs/briefing161106.pdf