Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)
8.30am Sunday 27 April
The Defend Aamer Anwar Campaign has today published an open letter in support of embattled human-rights lawyer Aamer Anwar as a full-page advertisement in the Sunday Herald. Aamer Anwar is facing contempt of court charges over statements that he made on behalf of his client, Mohammed Atif Siddique, who was convicted for "terrorism" in Glasgow High Court in September 2007. The proceedings against Aamer Anwar were initiated last November by Lord Carloway, the judge in the Siddique trial. The case will be heard at the High Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday. Supporters of Aamer Anwar will be holding a demonstration outside the court from 9.30am on Tuesday.
The advertisement breaks a week of near-total media silence about the case, which looks set to make Scottish legal history.
It names some of the prominent figures who have signed the letter supporting Aamer Anwar. They include veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, MPs Mohammed Sarwar and George Galloway, Paddy Hill (one of the Birmingham 6), former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, author Iain Banks, lawyers Gareth Peirce and Imran Khan and six MSPs including Sandra White and Shirley-Ann Somerville.
Personal comments from some of the signatories to the letter have been included in the advertisement. Moazzam Begg says:
"An avid defender of others rights is being forced to take the stand for attempting to defend his client. 'Going for the lawyer' is something I've seen happening in Guantanamo. I didn't expect it would be happening in Britain too. I urge all fairminded people in this country to stand with Aamer Anwar in solidarity for the sake of justice and freedom."
Solicitor Gareth Peirce says:
"It is a sad and dangerous day for our country if a lawyer who sees injustice cannot say so loud and clear."
Asif Siddique, the elder brother of Aamer Anwar's client Mohammed Atif Siddique, has also spoken out in support of Aamer Anwar. He says:
"The Siddique family are angered and appalled at this attack on Aamer Anwar. It is an attempt to silence this courageous lawyer. The statement made outside Glasgow's High Court last year was the view of Atif Siddique and our family. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Aamer. It is time to stand up and defend those who defend our civil liberties."
The Defend Aamer Anwar Campaign is supported by the Stop the War Coalition and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities. The advertisement was funded by donations from supporters of the campaign. Other organisations supporting Aamer Anwar include: the University and College Union (UCU) Glasgow University Branch, Muslim Action Committee (Glasgow mosques), Islamic Society of Edinburgh University, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.
SACC agrees with barrister Frances Webber (Garden Court Chambers) - one of the signatories to the open letter - who says:
"This attempt to intimidate lawyers from speaking out in defence of their clients brings the judiciary itself into disrepute."
Viewed the newspaper advertisement (pdf file)
Notes for Editors
- Statement issued by Aamer Anwar in September 2007 following the conviction of Mohammed Atif Siddique.