Thursday, October 7, 2010

Uighur Brothers Once in Guantánamo Now in Switzerland

Guantánamo Uighur Brothers “Happy” in Switzerland, But Struggling to Adapt to New Life
Six months after arriving from Guantánamo to a new life in the Swiss canton of Jura, Arkin Mahmut (46) and his younger brother Bahtiyar (34), seen for the first time in the photo here, have spoken publicly about their release, stating that they are “happy” in their new home. However, as the Swiss website explained, “communication and getting used to another culture has presented the two brothers with challenges — as has living with the memories of Guantánamo.”

The Uighur brothers, from Xinjiang province in north western China, were among 22 Uighurs held at Guantánamo, who were mostly seized and sold to US forces by opportunistic Pakistani villagers in December 2001. The men had fled from a rundown settlement in the Afghan mountains, where they had ended up after fleeing Chinese persecution, or because they had been thwarted in their attempts to reach Turkey or Europe in search of work. Five were freed in Albania in May 2006, and the other 17 — including the brothers — won their habeas corpus petitions in October 2008, although the Justice Department, the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. and lawmakers in Congress successfully opposed the judge’s order to bring them to live in the US — and, last May, President Obama also vetoed a plan by White House Counsel Greg Craig, which would have involved bringing some of the men to live on the US mainland. Instead, four men were freed in Bermuda last June, six more were freed in Palau last October, and five men remain in Guantánamo, exactly two years after they won their habeas petition, wondering if anyone — Turkey, perhaps, which has strong ties with the Uighur people — will offer them a new home...

Andy Worthington

Read the rest of this story and see references to the other Uighur men detained at
Guantánamo as well - CLICK here

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