April 5, 2009

Free the Uighurs

Peacemakers in front of the White House on Day 74 of a 100 Day Protest to Close Guantanamo. They have been their since Obama began his term as President
There are currently 17 Uighurs in Guantanamo – most of whom were turned over from Pakistan to the United States for bounties in late 2001. The US government cleared these detainees for release by 2004, but they were not returned to China due to credible fears that they would be tortured upon return. For several years, the US government has tried to convince other countries to resettle the Uighurs. In 2006, Albania agreed to take in five of them, but no other country has offered to do so, in part because of US unwillingness to accept any released Guantanamo detainees itself.

“The Uighur detainees have been held at Guantanamo for nearly seven years, even though the government acknowledges they should be freed,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Since Washington has failed to resettle the Uighurs elsewhere, it should parole them into the United States.”

There is general agreement as to the circumstances of the arrest of most of the Guantanamo Uighurs. They were living together in a Uighur camp in Afghanistan and when the US-led coalition bombing campaign began in October 2001, a group of them fled into the mountains. Arab travelers promised to take them to a safe house in Pakistan, but instead turned them over to Pakistani authorities who, in turn, handed them over to the United States – reportedly for large bounties. They have been in US custody ever since.
-thanks to Human Rights Watch

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