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Detainee Transfer Announced

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby provided the following:
“The Department of Defense is announcing today the transfer of Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik, and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Slovakia.

“These three are the last ethnic Uighur Chinese nationals to be transferred. They were subject to release from Guantanamo as a result of a court order issued on Oct. 7, 2008, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and are voluntarily resettling in Slovakia.

“As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these individuals were designated for transfer by unanimous consent among all six agencies on the task force.

“Today, 155 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.” DoD News Release

Authorities eventually determined that the 22 Uighurs in its custody had no involvement in terrorism, but the U.S. struggled to resettle them. China requested their return, but they couldn't be sent there because of fears they would face persecution and torture. Many countries refused to accept them out of reluctance to anger the Chinese government. Congress blocked a U.S. judge's order to release them inside the United States.

...

Eventually, the U.S. relocated Uighurs to Bermuda, Palau, Switzerland and elsewhere but could not find countries that would take the final three and would also be acceptable to the men even after a decade of captivity at Guantanamo.

Slovakia had previously accepted three Guantanamo prisoners, from Egypt, Tunisia and Azerbaijan, in 2009. The Interior Ministry portrayed this latest transfer as simply an extension of the previous agreement. "Like in the case of the first transport, they are persons who have been neither suspected nor accused of the crime of terrorism," the ministry said in a statement broadcast on Slovak RTVS television.
CBS News

With 19 other Uighur men, Abbas, Abdulghuper and Kalik were mistakenly captured in eastern Afghanistan, not far from a crucial 2001 battle at Tora Bora. An ethnic Turkic minority in China, the Uighur detainees said they had come to Afghanistan to escape persecution. They were given to the US for detention at a time when US forces were heavily reliant on Afghan proxies who had their own agendas and who accepted bounties for captives.

During the early days of their detention, the US interrogated the Uighur men brutally. In September 2002, Chinese officials were allowed to visit Guantánamo. According to 2009 testimony to a US House subcommittee, the Uighur detainees were subject to sleep deprivation, frigid temperatures and isolation. One detainee, Ablikim Turahun, wrote to a House foreign affairs subcommittee that the US troops supervising his detention followed instructions from the Chinese officials to take his picture without his consent.
...

The Uighur detainees came to live in a Guantánamo facility separate from the rest of the detention population. While their treatment was less severe, they were not free men. The Guardian

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Comment Preferences

  •  Finally... (9+ / 0-)

    I wrote a piece about an earlier group being released in this diary back in 2009: Uyghurs to Palau? Why Not My Neighborhood? 90031:

    Just in case that deal with Palau falls through, I'd like Secretary of State Clinton to know my northeast Los Angeles neighborhood would be willing to do business with Washington under the same parameters they offered those islanders. Give us $200 million and I am pretty sure I can persuade the majority of residents here in Lincoln Heights to accept the 13 Uyghurs still being held at the Guantánamo detention center more than seven years after they were captured in Afghanistan.

    Now it's true that I've only polled my wife and stepdaughter and the six neighbors who got together for barbecue last evening. But they're 100% behind the idea. A good move for ZIP Code 90031. And while the vast majority of Americans seem appalled by the idea of any Gitmo detainees hanging around near them - even if locked down in a supermax prison built to hold the worst of the worst - I think folks in this mostly low-income neighborhood can be persuaded without too much trouble. [You can click to enlarge that map of 90031 on the right.]

    After all, a couple hundred mil would go a long way toward improving things in this area where one of the oldest, toughest gangs in the city resides and household income is less than half the state median.

    In fact, I think the Secretary ought to phone up Palau President Johnson Toribiong today and tell him, sorry, the deal's off.

    Don't get me wrong. I hold no grudges against the Palauans. I'm sure they're all wonderfully mellow people and everything, and I really like their flag, but they're already living in paradise and now they want to get paid for it, too? C'mon. Lincoln Heights will take the 13 Uyghurs, and even the four who were moved to Bermuda Wednesday if things don't work out there.  [...]

    So here is the U.S. offering tens of millions of dollars to some islanders who surely could use the money for all kinds of good things. But here in Lincoln Heights there also are needs. The truth is, if we  accept the Uyghurs, we ought to be in line for $400 million. Palau's population is only 21,000, but there are 39,000 or so of us. No reason to wreck the deal by being pushy, however. Like the bottom quintile everywhere, we're used to doing more with less.

    For example, because of draconian slashing of public budgets, neither the seven elementary schools nor one middle school in the area will hold summer-school classes this year. And the high school is limiting its summer classes to graduating seniors. That may sound great from the point of view of many kids. But not only do those classes help them keep up academically during the regular year, they also keep a lot of them from winding up in the back of a police cruiser and give relief to their parents. A slice of that $200 million could keep the classes running and some teachers and custodians off the unemployment rolls.

    Budget cuts will also take their toll on anti-gang programs. As noted previously, one of the oldest and most notorious gangs in Los Angeles, the Avenidas, operates out of Lincoln Heights and an adjacent neighborhood. Their graffiti are only the most visible aspect of their toxic presence. Killings are not uncommon. Peel another few bills off that $200 million roll to keep anti-gang intervention operating. Including cleaning up that graffiti since the city's clean-up program is also due for the budget ax.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 12:13:12 PM PST

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