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Uighur detainees in Guantanamo

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The United States held approximately two dozen Uighurs captives in Guantanamo. Eighteen of the detainees attended their Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

Uighurs are an ethnic group from Xinjiang province in the west of China.[1] The Uighurs call their homeland East Turkistan.

The Washington Post reported, on August 24 2005, that fifteen Uighurs had been determined not to have been "enemy combatants" after all.[2] The Post reported that detainees who had been determined to have been not enemy combatants were, not only still being incarcerated, but were still being shackled to the floor.

Common elements in the allegations

  • Most of the Uighurs were alleged to be members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.
  • Most of the Uighurs were alleged to have completed military training.
    • Some of the allegations stated that the military training camp was in the Tora Bora mountains.
  • Most of the Uighurs were alleged to have accepted training that was sponsored by the Taliban, or Al Qaeda.
  • All of the Uighurs were alleged to have fled when their camp was bombed as part of the United States bombing campaign.
  • Many of the Uighurs were alleged to have engaged in hostilities in Tora Bora.

Common elements in the detainees' testimony

East Turkistan Islamic Movement

All the Uighurs who were asked about the East Turkistan Islamic Movement denied any contact with this organization. They all denied any participation in any political parties or organizations.

AK-47 training

All the detainees either denied receiving any training on the AK-47, or they said that the training they had received was minimal -- that they were shown how to disassemble the rifle, and were allowed to fire a couple of rounds. They all described being trained individually, by Uighurs named either Abdul Haq, or Hassan Maksum. They all denied being trained on any other weapons, or seeing any of the other Uighurs receive training on any other weapons.

Fleeing the camp after it was bombed

All the Uighurs reported that they did not expect their camp to be bombed. Some of the Uighurs acknowledged that they had heard of the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the radio. But none of them knew that the Taliban were accused of involvement. They all acknowledged having fled the camp when it was bombed. They all claimed they were unarmed. One of the Uighurs said Maksum was killed in the bombing.

Motives

None of the Uighurs described seeing the United States as an enemy. All of the Uighurs who mentioned the Chinese government described them as oppressive occupiers. Some of the Uighurs said that they sought out the training in order to go back to China and defend their fellow Uighurs against their Chinese occupiers.

Some of the other Uighurs said they sought out the camp of fellow Uighurs because they were waiting for a visa to Iran, one of the countries they had to pass through on their way to Turkey. They had heard that Turkey would grant them political asylum.

Combatant Status Review Tribunal results

From July 2004 through March 2005 all 568 of the detainees held at Guantanamo had their detention reviewed by Combatant Status Review Tribunals. 38 of the detainees were determined not to have been "enemy combatants" after all. Some or all of the Uighurs were among the 38 detainees determined not to have been enemy combatants, and were transferred from the main detention camp, to more pleasant incarceration at Camp Iguana.

This conclusion was remarked on by the Denbeaux study, that pointed out that many of the detainees who remained incarcerated had faced much less serious allegations than the Uighurs had faced.

On May 10 2006 Radio Free Asia reported that the five Uighurs transported to Albania were the only Uighurs who had been moved to Camp Iguana.[3]

Asylum

None of the Uighurs wanted to be returned to China. The United States declined to grant the Uighurs political asylum, or to allow them parole, or even freedom on the Naval Base.

Some of the Uighurs had lawyers who volunteered to help them pursue a writ of habeas corpus, which would have been one step in getting them freed from American detention.

Five of the Uighurs were transported to Albania, on Friday May 5 2006. Those Uighurs were scheduled to have arguments for their writ of habeas corpus argued in US District Court on Monday May 8 2006. Barbara Olshansky, one of the Uighur's lawyers, characterized the sudden transfer as an attempt to: "...avoid having to answer in court for keeping innocent men in jail,[4]"

Some press reports state that the Uighurs have been granted political asylum in Albania. But the U.S. government press release merely states that they are applying for asylum in Albania.

On May 9 2006 the Associated Press reported that China denounced the transfer of custody.[5][6] China called the transfer of the Uighurs to Albania a violation of international law. Albania agreed to examine the evidence against the men.

Radio Free Asia reports that the five were staying at a National Center for Refugees in a Tirana suburb.[3]

On May 24 2006 Abu Bakr Qasim told interviewers that he and his compatriots felt isolated in Albania.[7] Qasim described his disappointment with the United States, who the Uighurs had been hoping would support the Uighurs quest for Uighur autonomy.

In an interview with ABC News Qasim said that members of the American-Urghur community had come forward and assured the American government that they would help him and his compatriots adapt to life in America, if they were given asylum in America.[8]

Individual's names

102 Nag Mohammed
103 Arkin Mahmud
  • Attended his CSRT.[9]
  • Attended his ARB hearing.[10]
  • Mahmud is not accused of attending a training camp, or of engaging in hostilities, or of any association with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or any group associated with terrorism.
  • Mahmud traveled to Afghanistan to seek out his brother, who ha was surprised to learn was attending a training camp.
201 Ahmad Tourson
  • Attended his CSRT.[11]
219 Abdul Razak
  • Attended his CSRT.
  • Said he was working as a driver, was not attending any training camps.
  • Acknowledged making a couple of deliveries of food to the Uighur camp.
250 Hassan Anvar
260 Ahmed Adil
275 Yusef Abbas
  • Attended his CSRT.[14]
276 Akhdar Qasem Basit
  • Attended his CSRT.[15]
277 Bahtiyar Mahnut
  • Attended his CSRT.<[16]
278 Abdul Helil Mamut
  • Attended his CSRT.[17]
279 Haji Mohammed Ayub
  • Attended his CSRT.[18]
280 Saidullah Khalik
281 Abdul Ghappar Abdul Rahman
  • Attended his CSRT.[19]
282 Hajiakbar Abdulghupur
  • Attended his CSRT.[20]
283 Abu Bakr Qasim
  • Attended his CSRT.[21]
  • CSRT determined that he was not an "enemy combatant".
  • Transported to Albania on May 5 2006.[3]
285 Abdullah Abdulqadirakhum
  • Attended his CSRT.[22]
289 Dawut Abdurehim
  • Attended his CSRT.[23]
293 Adel Abdulhehim
295 Emam Abdulahat
  • Attended his CSRT.[25]
320 Hozaifa Parhat
  • Attended his CSRT.[26]
328 Ahmed Mohamed
  • Attended his CSRT.[27]
584 Adel Noori
  • Attended his CSRT.[28]

Radio Free Asia named the five released Uighurs.[3] But the report identified the Uighurs with different transliterations than that used in the U.S. press release: Ababehir Qasim, Adil Abdulhakim, Ayuphaji Mahomet, Ahter and Ahmet

References

  1. China's Uighurs trapped at Guantanamo, Asia Times, November 4 2004
  2. Chinese Detainees Are Men Without a Country: 15 Muslims, Cleared of Terrorism Charges, Remain at Guantanamo With Nowhere to Go, Washington Post, August 24 2005
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Guantanamo Uyghurs Try to Settle in Albania, Radio Free Asia, May 10 2006
  4. Albania takes Guantanamo Uighurs, BBC, May 6 2006
  5. China Demands Return of Gitmo Detaniees, Associated Press, May 9 2006
  6. China wants Gitmo Uighurs back, says Albania transfer breaks international law, The Jurist, May 9 2006
  7. 5 Guantanamo Uighurs baffled in Albania, United Press International, May 24 2006
  8. Guantanamo's Innocents: Newly Released Prisoners Struggle to Find a Home, ABC News, May 23 2006
  9. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Arkin Mahmud's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 22-24
  10. Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Arkin Mahmud's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 123
  11. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Ahmad Tourson's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 2-14
  12. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Ahmed Adil's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 56-61
  13. Letter to Condaleezza Rice, January 19 2006
  14. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Yusef Abbas's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 18-25
  15. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Akhdar Qasem Basit's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 1-6
  16. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Bahtiyar Mahnut's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 11-28
  17. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdul Helil Mamut's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 7-14
  18. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Haji Mohammed Ayub's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 49-55
  19. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdul Ghappar Abdul Rahman's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 34-45
  20. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Hajiakbar Abdulghupur's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 65
  21. summarized transcript (.pdf), from Abu Bakker Qassim's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 21-23
  22. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdullah Abdulqadirakhum's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 26-39
  23. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Dawut Abdurehim's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 9-17
  24. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Adel Abdulhehim's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 36-45
  25. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Emam Abdulahat's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 99-111
  26. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Hozaifa Parhat's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 43-54
  27. [Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Ahmed Mohamed's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 22-30
  28. Summarized transcripts (.pdf) from Adel Noori's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - page 45