Dr David Nicholl- London Marathon 2005
Fundraising for Amnesty International UK
We protect human rights to create a safer, more just world.
Charity Registration No. 1051681
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Amnesty International welcomes the return of the 4 British detainees (such as Moazeem Begg (photo)) from Guantanamo Bay ('Gitmo') to the UK. However this was not before time. They were held for over 3 years without access to legal advice and subjected to torture and intimidation. Despite intensive efforts not a single person in Guantanamo Bay has yet to be charged with any crime.
Contrary to today's news (25/1/05), these are not the "last" British Guantanamo internees, there are at least 5 British residents who are still being held without charge.
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4205989.stm). For example, Bisher al Rawi, originally from Iraq, but he has lived in the UK for 20 years, having been (justifiably) offered asylum having been tortured by Saddam Hussein. All his children are British. Instead, of offering any kind of help/advice, the UK government has washed their hands of the issue.
Detention without trial does not work. The last time the UK government attempted to use detention without trial was in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s in a failed attempt to curb the IRA. Does the following description sound familiar?
3000 soldiers backed up by the local police using out-of-date intelligence swooped on houses throughout a country looking for members of a very violent terrorist organisation and arrested over 300 men, all from a single religious group. By the time the operation was completed, the army had arrested many who had no connection with the terrorist organisation. As the arrests continued, the army had to open a disused military base to accommodate the prisoners. Writing years later, the Home Secretary who sanctioned the action said the experience was "by almost universal consent an unmitigated disaster". Many of those arrested were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. This was not Guantanamo Bay in 2005, but the effects of Internment in Northern Ireland in 1971 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/troubles/origins/internment.shtml). Do we learn nothing from history? Detention without trial does not work. Yet there are still over 500 inmates in Guantanamo who have yet to be charged with anything. I believe it is completely unjust to hold anyone, guilty or innocent, without charge and without access to legal representation for an indefinite period. This has been the subject of much criticism from the Red Cross (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3179858.stm), the European Parliament (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1774237.stm), Amnesty International (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2648123.stm), the United Nations (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1816648.stm) and the International Bar Association (http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1060689,00.html). If those detained in Guantanamo, are guilty, they need to be charged with a crime, tried and punished like any criminal. If they are innocent, they should be released forthwith. Justice needs to be done, and to be seen to be done either way. Anything other than an insistence of either the immediate release of these detainees or them being charged as part of an appropriately recognised due legal process is merely tacit agreement with the Bush administrations ongoing human rights abuses. Don't don't take my word for it- one of the country's most senior Law Lords, Lord Hoffmann, said of the UK governments anti-terror laws in relation to detention without trial: "The real threat to the life of a nation, in the sense of a people living in its accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism, but from laws such as these". Thus on April 17th, I aim to run 26.2 miles dressed as a Guantanamo internee (ie orange jump suit and chains) in ~ 4.5 hours to raise money for Amnesty. As part of my 'training', I have performed dress rehearsal runs in my home town of Belfast and presented a letter of protest to the US consulate, as well as similar half-marathon to the Birmingham Law Courts to meet Moazeem Begg. I am very grateful for all the help from everyone at Amnesty, plus all the journalists, photographers and TV people who have helped cover this to date(Birmingham Post, the Times, Newsletter, Irish News, Daily Ireland, South Belfast Post, Hagley Village News, BRMB, Heart FM, Radio WM, Radio Ulster, Downtown Radio, City Beat FM, UTV, Central News, BBC Midlands Today, BBC2, BBC News 24). Keep this story running!! I also hope to raise the profile of the ongoing detention without trial of the over 500 individuals kept in Guantanamo Bay. If you agree with me that detention without trial is a travesty of the principles of justice on which all truly democratic countries are founded, write to your MP at www.faxyourmp.com. I am running with the support of Mr Begg's family (Azzmat Begg (see lower left photo), Terry Waite and other members of the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission (http://www.guantanamohrc.org/) Ten reasons to sponsor Dave, and answers to some of my critics. 1. I am grateful for all your donations, and if I have inspired some of you to give money to another charity that is absolutely brilliant, but that charity won't be sharing my agony. So sponsor me, and support human rights 2. This is a 'Win-win-win' situation- I get fit, Amnesty raises money for human rights, and we make loads of people aware of ongoing human rights abuses in Guantanamo and elsewhere. So sponsor me! 3. Amnesty International supports human rights projects throughout the World, eg projects on domestic violence, campaign against the arms trade, the death penalty, plus the ongoing human rights abuses in Guantanamo and elsewhere. For further information go to http://www.amnesty.org.uk/ This truly is a good cause so sponsor me! 4. Amnesty does not support terrorism! In fact it is interesting to reflect that Amnesty International did not support Nelson Mandela when he was incarcerated as he was the leader of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe (the military wing of the ANC), and Amnesty does not support those who have embraced violence. 5. All the stuff I've cited is from reputable journalists (eg Channel 4 News, Newsnight, Guardian, Observer, BBC, Associated Press). If you read the 'Daily Mail', don't expect to be informed! So sponsor me for all this free journalism! 6. I have used all legitimate methods of protest about Guantanamo, written to my MP etc. on multiple occasions (I'm still waiting a reply from Jack Straw from 3 months ago). Since we live in a "elected dictatorship" (according to Lord Hailsham) its time to exert a bit of non-violent protest. So sponsor me! 7. There are any number of bizarre or mainstream charities I could have run for, but that would have been too straightforward- my heart, soul, mind and legs wouldn't have been in it. So sponsor me and raise money for Amnesty!. 8. Even those crusty MPs in the Foreign Affairs Select Committee agree with me this week (March 25th). They have reprimanded the UK government for failing to state they refuse to accept information extracted through torture and also for taking stronger action on human rights abuses in Guantanamo (http://www.politics.co.uk/foreign-policy/mps-condemn-government-silence-in-torture-row-$8116224.htm So sponsor me and raise money for Amnesty!. 9. There is increasing evidence that the US is deliberately 'outsourcing' detainees to third party countries to enable interrogation under torture to take place (Guardian, 19/3/05). An estimated 10,000 individuals are now being held in 'US detention' in Afghanistan, Eygpt, Thailand, Yemen, Saudia Arabia, Syria (!) according to UK and US military sources. The current US attorney general (Alberto Gonzales) in 2002 received a memo defining torture as "serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death." Good to know that electrocution, hanging people by handcuffs and sexual abuse are still OK!!! These people are dangerous, so sponsor me! http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/01/06/gonzales.hearing/ 10. I did it!!! 4 hours 43 minutes. Fantastic atmosphere-see below for details...so you really DO have to sponsor me! My article in the Birmingham Post explaining why I am running the marathon is at: http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/birminghampost/news/tm_objectid=15304580%26method=full%26siteid=50002-name_page.html ######PRESS RELEASE##### On Saturday (the eve of the London marathon), I went to Downing Street with relatives of 3 UK residents still being held in Guantanamo Bay. The example of one of them gives some idea of the background to the living hell these families have been through. Amani Deghayes (pictured) is the sister of Omar Deghayes. Omar Deghayes, 35, came to the UK with his mother, sister and brother from Libya in 1986, six years after his father, Amer - a prominent figure in Libyan public life who pioneered trade unions - was assassinated by Colonel Gadaffi's regime. The family left Libya and were granted asylum in this country since 1987. Omar studied law at Wolverhampton University. After his degree, he went travelling, met his girl-friend, now wife in Pakistan. After 9/11, he was kidnapped and taken into Afghanistan and, it is believed sold onto the US authorities (who pay $5000 for such 'terror suspects'). He has been held in Guantanamo for 3 years, during which he has gone blind in one eye, following an assault from a US soldier. His family have yet to hear of any charges being brought against him. Whilst in Guantanamo, he has been interviewed twice by Libyan security services, who have threatened to kill him if he ever returns to Libya. The UK government maintains that it can only represent British citizens not British residents. This is just one example of the kind of injustice by our governments failure to address the ongoing human rights abuses in Guantanamo. Previously, Downing Street agreed to let our delegation present a letter of protest to the steps of Downing Street. On Saturday, one hour after I gave a live interview to BBC News 24 dressed as above, that offer was withdrawn (see photos of me debating this point with London's finest). We gave our letter to security. Quite simply it was an honour to have the support of these families for my marathon run the following day. I suspect that the attitude of the Downing Street authorities probably knocked a few minutes off my time in the marathon which was 4 hours 43 minutes- it would have been quicker but I had to do a 'Paula Radcliffe', but I used the Portaloo at mile 20. The atmosphere was brilliant, I got into a habit of singing Englebert Humperdink's "Please Release Me" around the course, which raised some smiles. I also had many fellow runners coming up to me to support this worthy cause having seen the TV interview. So far we have raised almost £3000 for Amnesty (and anyone who hasn't already can donate at www.justgiving.com/running4justice) as well as raised the profile of the ongoing situation in Guantanamo and I am extremely grateful for all the journalists who have covered this story in UK and Ireland. Meanwhile, I have another challenge...I promised my wife ages ago, I would fix that garden fence. Any of you who know my DIY skills, really know that is a challenge! Dr David Nicholl, 40, is a consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and City Hospital, Birmingham.....he promises never to dress like this at work! Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to sponsor me: Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust will receive your money faster and, if you are a UK taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you. So please sponsor me (and write to your MP) now! Many thanks for your support. Yours sincerely Dr David Nicholl (born in Belfast, works in Birmingham, runs anywhere!) firstname.lastname@example.org