Uighur detainees faced Chinese torture methods at Gitmo

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has released declassified portions of a June 20 decision that a Combatant Status Review Tribunal had improperly designated a Chinese Uighur detained at Guantanamo Bay as an “enemy combatant.” In the opinion, Judge Merrick Garland dismissed government arguments that classified documents established Huzaifa Parhat’s terror connections, finding: “Parhat has made a credible argument that—at least for some of the assertions—the common source is the Chinese government, which may be less than objective with respect to the Uighurs.”

Last month, the court ordered the US government to release or transfer Parhat. Barring release or transfer, the order directed the US to “expeditiously hold a new Tribunal consistent with the court’s opinion.” Parhat can challenge his detention in federal court and seek immediate release through a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Boumediene v. Bush.

In April, US Department of Justice lawyers defended Parhat’s detention in oral arguments before the court, claiming he is an “enemy combatant” due to his ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant group that calls for separation from China and was designated as a terrorist organization by the US in 2002. The DoJ acknowledged that Parhat did not fight against the US and that there is no evidence that he intended to do so, but said he can still be held under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act of 2001 because ETIM is affiliated with al-Qaeda. (Jurist, July 1)

Since 2001, the US has held at least 22 Uighur detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Most of these are judged to have never been a threat to US national security, and are slated for release. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said on August 12, 2003 that these Uighurs will not be returned to China. The Uyghur Human Rights Proect joins Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in expressing grave concern for their safety if they are deported to any other nation where they might face the danger of torture. (Uygur Human Rights Project, July 3)

In a hilariously ironic development, the New Yort Times reported in a front-page story that military trainers at Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 gave an entire interrogation class—with a chart delineating “coercive management techniques” such as “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure”—that had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used in the Korean War against US POWs. (NYT, July 2)

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