Monday, July 19, 2010
Three US Christian activists from Witness Against Torture Visit Uyghur Muslims
AN OCEAN IDYLL and peace at last: Salahidin Abdulahat, left, and Khaleel Mamut, Uyghur Muslims freed from Guantánamo Bay last year swam in Bermuda on Sunday. Mr. Abdulahat said his first-ever ocean swim was "the happiest day of my life." Justin Maxim, NYT Photo Credit
Let's support (other) triple-victimized Uyghurs (notice that journalists and others differ in spelling of this name yet I'm using Uyghers because that's how it's spelled in some of the Human Rights sites on their behalf)
“One of the many things that has impressed me in our conversations with these men, whom the Bush administration repeatedly labeled as the ‘worst of the worst,’ is their gentleness and compassion. While these men fiercely criticize the rationalizations behind their detention, they have expressed NO resentment towards their captors, but rather have focused solely on the imperative to release the remaining Uighur detainees at Guantánamo.” Excerpt from Release below...
FIVE Uighurs remain in Guantánamo - Plz Support these double-victimized courageous Muslim men.
American Anti-Torture Activists Visit Former Guantánamo Prisoners in Bermuda
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, July 19, 2010
Contact: Matt Daloisio, 201-264-4424, firstname.lastname@example.org
Luke Hansen, 605-407-2799, email@example.com
New York City — Three Christian activists from Witness Against Torture traveled to Bermuda on Friday, July 16, 2010 to meet with four Uyghur men who were detained in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for more than seven years.
(The Uyghur ethnic group primarily resides in western China)
The Bush administration conceded that the men are not “enemy combatants,” and in October 2008 a federal judge ordered their release. Eight months later, four Uyghurs were resettled in Bermuda. Other Uyghur detainees were resettled elsewhere while five Uyghurs remain in Guantánamo.
The purpose of the delegation to Bermuda is to build relationships with the Uyghurs, seek their counsel concerning further advocacy for both current and former Guantánamo prisoners, and to bring a message of atonement and reconciliation from the American people to the former prisoners. “In the United States, public discourse on Guantánamo is mainly informed by various perspectives from the military, politicians and the U.S. public,” says John Bambrick, a Chicago youth minister. “We
have come to Bermuda to seek the perspectives of men who have
experienced Guantánamo firsthand.”
“The Uyghur men in Bermuda, like us, are people of faith,” says Jeremy Kirk, a Ph.D. student in social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. “We are practicing our Christian faith by seeking connection with our Muslim brothers, in whose detention and abuse we have participated as U.S. taxpayers and citizens.”
On Saturday, the three activists visited the Uyghurs’ apartment, shared a meal and swam in the ocean with the former prisoners, and swapped stories about family and religious faith. The Uyghur men shared some of their experiences of being in Guantánamo and discussed their gratitude for and challenges associated with resettlement. (They are very grateful to the Bermudan Government’s support and hospitality.) On Sunday, the activists will speak with the Uyghurs in further detail about their experiences at Guantánamo and the conditions currently faced by the men
who remain in detention. Luke Hansen, who is studying to become a Jesuit priest, states, “One of the many things that has impressed me in our conversations with these men, whom the Bush administration repeatedly labeled as the ‘worst of the worst,’ is their gentleness and compassion. While these men fiercely criticize the rationalizations behind their detention, they have expressed no resentment towards their captors, but rather have focused solely on the imperative to release the remaining Uyghur detainees at Guantánamo.”
The delegation to Bermuda included:
John Bambrick, 31, works as a Catholic youth minister in Chicago and is a member of the White Rose Catholic Worker. He earned his B.A. at Marquette University in 2001 and his M.A. in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University Chicago in 2008.
Luke Hansen, S.J., 28, is part of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In May, Luke earned an M.A. at Loyola University Chicago. His thesis is titled, “Countering Terrorism with Justice: A Catholic Response to Policies of Indefinite Detention in the Fight Against Terrorism.”
Jeremy Kirk, 32, is a Ph.D. student in social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he studies interfaith response to crisis and liberation theology. He has worked as an organizer with various environmental and human rights groups.
All three are members of Witness Against Torture, a grassroots organization that formed in December 2005
By the way, the group releasing this report along with sister groups - Creative Voices for Peace and Christian Peacemakers - have been pioneers among US and world-wide peace activists in seeking attention for and the ending of use of DRONES in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. SEE item just in today "Drones Lend Dangerous Silence to War"
NOTE: What about "sharing this heart-warming and current "Peace Piece" with inter-faith groups and others to show how the "One Heart of Us All" might work in unison world-wide to provide justice, peace and a safe place to be for many others already cleared detainees/prisoners but nowhere to go and petition for justice for others still behind bars?
For more updates and history GO to Uyghurs in Gitmo at the UHRP site here and see both Cage Prisoners dot com and Andy Worthington dot co dot uk for plenty more details.
Current mainstream news report here
Earlier item at Dawn dot com here AP" After eight years in U.S. military custody and were resettled in Bermuda. The former detainees' attorneys say the men were picked up by mistake in Pakistan and should never have been kept in the detention facility in Cuba."
The four freed Uyghurs toured the historic district of St. George in Bermuda on a Sunday soon after arrival on the island and had ice cream. They have been greeted with hospitality by the island's residents. Justin Maxim photographer NYT Read More from this early news report and more photos early after the Uyghers arrival GO here
"Early (in their residency) on this idyll island, the Uyqhurs praised Bermuda for showing courage in the face of potential Chinese pressures that, in their view, powerful European countries had failed to muster. The men were among a larger group of Uyghurs (pronounced WEE-gers) who had fled what they called Chinese persecution of Muslims in western China and spent part of 2001 in a Uighur camp in Afghanistan. They fled, apparently unarmed, when the Americans bombed the camp, and were later turned in to the authorities by Pakistani villagers in return for an American bounty." NYT/AP
Years into their captivity, American officials concluded that the men should not be considered enemy combatants. Although a court ordered their release, it was delayed by the inability to find a host country and a court reversal that prevented their move to American soil." Let's change that by encouraging communities world-wide to accept cleared detainees. Plz write/petition the US Government to release the other four Uyghurs.
At least three Human Rights Groups applauded Bermuda's hospitality to the four Uyghers here
Posted by CN at 11:09 AM