PJ Harvey released her last album, Let England Shake, back in 2011, and now she has unveiled her first piece of new music in two years in the form of a protest song for Shaker Aamer, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
Aamer is a British national who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. Aamer has remained on lockdown for 11 years despite clearances for release by both President George W. Bush in 2007 and again in 2009 by President Obama.
According to The Guardian, heavy international pressure has led to the U.S. announcing plans to restart transfers from the prison. However, there is still concern that Aamer will be sent to Saudi Arabia instead of back to the U.K. with his wife and four children. Harvey wrote the song “to help maintain pressure to have the 46-year-old, whose family live in south London, released back to Britain.”
“We hope people listen to this song and think about Shaker Aamer’s plight: detained for 11 years, without charge or trial – despite having been cleared for release by both Bush and Obama,” Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director and Aamer’s lawyer, said. “The UK government must do everything it can to bring Shaker back home to his wife and kids in London, where he belongs. PJ Harvey has written a wonderful song – I know Shaker will be deeply moved by it, and I only hope that, with the support of the public, he will one day be able to listen to it in freedom.”
“Shaker Aamer” recounts the story of the prisoner’s suffering while on hunger strike, of which he has recently crossed the four-month threshold. You can hear Harvey’s track below.