November 02, 2009 | Posted by Danielle Belton
When you think of what former Vice President Dick Cheney's calls "the worst of the worst" in Guantanamo Bay was he talking about the Uighurs?
Six of these Chinese Muslims were released from the detention facility Sunday to the Pacific island nation of Palau. The men were captured during the war in Afghanistan, but were not found by the Bush/Cheney Administration to be soldiers, terrorists or al-Qaeda members/supporters.
Despite not being enemy combatants, the men remained held in Guantanamo for eight years, caught in a nightmarish limbo of being held against their will, yet having no home to return to due to China's persecution of the Uighurs.
From BBC News:
"These men want nothing more than to live peaceful, productive lives in a free, democratic nation safe from oppression by the Chinese," Eric Tirschwell of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel told the Associated Press.
"Thanks to Palau, which has graciously offered them a temporary home, they now have that chance," he added
They're supposed to be the worst, but even the Bush Administration couldn't find a reason to keep them. How does rounding up the innocent protect us from the guilty?
These men were finally granted their freedom in Palau just as four other Uighurs before them were sent to Bermuda this year and five were sent to Albania in 2006. Palau agreed in June to take in about a dozen Uighurs.
An ethnic and religious minority in China, the Uighurs faced oppression in their home country only to suffer while held in Guantanamo unlawfully.
They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Surpreme Court agreed recently to examine their plight.
The (US Surpreme Court) agreed just over two weeks ago to take up the case of the Uighurs, who were declared innocent years ago but remain at Guantanamo in part because they face persecution if returned to China.
... The United States has managed to resettle four Uighurs formerly held at Guantanamo detainees in Bermuda, and another six in Palau, but seven more remain at Guantanamo among a group of around a dozen prisoners of various nationalities who cannot be repatriated for fear of persecution, but have not found a third country willing to provide them with asylum.
The Uighurs aren't the first men to be released from Guantanamo Bay after the title of "enemy combatant" didn't fit.
With the release of these latest individuals, 215 people remain in Guantanamo Bay. That's down from the prison's original height of more than 800. Out of those originally held there, only three have been convicted of any crime through the military commissions system. That's compared to the 195 terrorists the US Federal court system has convicted since 2001. Guantanamo Bay just doesn't work. It definitely didn't work for the innocent Uighurs we held and are still holding there.