Friday, February 17, 2006

Uigher Update

Last August, I wrote about the plight of two Chinese Muslims, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu Al-Hakim. ("Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Justice," 8/27/2005):

In 2001, they fled China and set out for Turkey in hopes of finding work. Then came 9/11. They were in Pakistan when the U.S. attacked Afghanistan. We had a bounty on “terrorists” — $5000 a head. Someone in Pakistan saw $10,000 of easy money, tipped off the U.S.; and we bought them in January of 2002.

In early 2005, without the benefit of counsel, they stood trial in a military court and were found innocent. Nevertheless, they remain captives.

The U.S. will not send them to China, where they would face discrimination at best and quite possibly incarceration. But we won’t set them free, either. We won’t let them live in the civilian community at Guantanamo, and we won’t let them live in the United States. The reason is clear enough. Out of prison, they will be free to talk about what happened in prison, and that we will not permit.

After I wrote about Qassim and Al-Hakim, I learned that there are at least five Uighers at Guantanamo; and it appeared that all of them are completely innocent. By other accounts, there are between 15 to 22 Chinese Muslims jailed at Guantanamo.

On February 16, 2006, the A.B.C. evening news belatedly aired a report about the Uighers at Guantanamo. The story confirmed that five are being held and that when two of them “had a chance to defend themselves,” they were acquited. A.B.C. did not mention that their “chance to defend themselves” was a secret trial or that their lawyer, Sabin Willet, only learned about it after it was over.

To its credit, the network noted U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson’s opinion that the Uighers’s indefinite confinement is unlawful, as well as his finding that he does not have the power to release them. Unfortunately, A.B.C. did not include Willet’s assessment. “It's a bizarre conclusion,” he said, “to have a judge say the executive branch is acting illegally, but he can't do anything about it.”


Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home