Saturday, June 10, 2006

Guantanamo “Like a Hell with No Justice”

(AP) As President Bush put on full court pressure to show the United States is treating the bodies of the three Guantanamo suicide victims with dignity and respect, it is worthy of recalling the words of some recently released “dangerous” detainees. Five innocent Chinese Muslims were held 4 ½ years, the last year after U.S. officials had declared them “no longer enemy combatants”. In December 2005 the judge in the case said "This indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."

In May the men were released to Albania, the only country that would accept the innocent victims. ABC News interviewed the men, one of whom had this to say:

Guantanamo is like a hell where there is no justice or respect for human dignity. Our life there was very, very miserable, especially the last one year after being told that we are innocent and still living behind wired walls. We feel confused, frustrated and tired. I would call the worst period of time of my four years incarceration in Guantanamo….Sympathy or regret never was expressed by anyone from the guards.

When they were captured in Afghanistan they knew of America’s commitment to human rights.

Q: Was there a hardest day, a moment when you'd most lost hope?

A: After we were handed over to American authorities in Kandahar. We thought it was good, Americans uphold people's rights and protect them. When we realized where we were going — to Guantanamo — that was the hardest moment.

As for their new home in Albania, they appreciate the warm welcome but miss access to their Uighur culture.

Were hoping that the United States government would recognize the mistake that it has done and accept, allow us to enter the United States. U.S. government captured us, U.S. government incarcerated us, locked us up in prison, and U.S. government said that we were not a threat and should be released.

Uighur-Americans came forward, made an offer to the United States government to accept us into Uighur-American society and community. They even went into the courts and contacted the lawyers and wrote a letter to the U.S. government officials asking them to consider releasing us into the United States. Unfortunately, it did not happen, a rather disappointing decision.

Does their experience change their view of America?

Q: Are you angry at the United States?

A: I wouldn't call it angry. I would rather describe it as extreme disappointment. The Uighur people see the United States as a country that promotes democratic freedom and protects human rights of the people, particularly people like the Uighurs, my people. We look up to the United States as a source of hope, inspiration for our liberty. And because of that image that we hold of the United States and what we have experienced in Guantanamo, we feel extremely disappointed.

Their words about the United States and China are interesting as the U.S. repeatedly has called China a human rights violator.

Q: Do you want to go back to China? If not, why not?

A: No — we don't want to go back to China. Chinese had been persecuting, discriminating and doing horrible things on our people. And recently, they've been calling anyone who disagrees with the Chinese either terrorists or separatists.

The second reason that we cannot go back is that the United States government invested so much energy and time to let the world know that anyone and everyone in Guantanamo is terrorist. [After] four-and-a-half years at Guantanamo Bay … you earn a title "terrorist." And the Chinese strongly believe it.

P.S. The AP at the beginning of the post comes from the author's initials

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