Gitmo Uighurs to Albania

Albania, of all places, has agreed to take in five Uighur militants who had been captured by the US in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo. Stateside Uighur advocates and human rights organizations went to court to halt their deportation to China, where they could face torture due to their presumed links to separatist activities. The case casts an ironic light on US exploitation of the human rights issue in China: not only does Gitmo mirror the very conditions the US protests in Chinese prisons, but Washington was perfectly ready to collaborate with the Chinese torture state by deporting the Uighurs. The case also indicates that, US-Chinese tensions notwithstanding, the two imperial powers still have some common geostrategic interests. Now how long before national security wonks (and neo-Chetniks) start squawking about the Uighur-jihadi threat in Albania? From the Uyghur Human Rights Project, May 5:

The Uyghur American Association has just learned from the US State Department that five Uyghurs who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay have been released from US custody, and have already arrived in Albania where they are to be re-settled.

The five include Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Al Hakim, the two men whose appeal hearing was due to be heard at the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on the morning of May 8. That hearing will now of course be cancelled.

UAA understands that the other three men to have been accepted for resettlement by Albania are Ahtar Qassim, Ayup Haji Ahmet and Ahmet (Doe).

“This is just incredible news,” said Nury Turkel, President of the UAA. “It’s all been very sudden and unexpected, but we understand that all five men are healthy and happy to be free, if a little bewildered by events.”

It is not yet known what conditions were set for the men’s release, nor what prompted the Albanian government in Tirana to accept the men.

“The UAA as a membership and community organization, and so we really want to avoid becoming involved in political speculation about their release,” said Mr Turkel. “We’re just thrilled they’re free, and we’re going to be looking into what we can do to help them from here in their new lives in Europe,” he added.

The US Department of Defense has issued a statement on the Uyghurs’ release, which can be seen here:

See also:

August 1, 2005

Legal Bid in Washington DC to Release Two Guantanamo Uyghurs…

December 23, 2005
Judge Robertson rules indefinite detention of Uyghur detainees is unlawful…

March 23, 2006
US Supreme Court faces call to release Guantanamo Uyghurs…

See our last posts on the Uighur struggle, China, the Balkans, and the torture scandal.