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US flies three final Chinese ethnic Uighurs from Guantanamo to Slovakia

Published time: December 31, 2013 19:13
Camp Delta at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (AFP Photo / Chantal Valery)

Camp Delta at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (AFP Photo / Chantal Valery)

Three Chinese Gitmo detainees have been transferred to Slovakia in what the US termed a milestone in the mission to finally close down Guantanamo bay prison. One hundred and fifty five prisoners, however, still remain at the prison.

The ethnic Uighurs Muslim detainees were flown to Bratislava from the US military prison on the island of Cuba, according to an announcement made by Pentagon and State department officials on Tuesday. Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik, and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper volunteered to resettle in Slovakia. The country accepted three former inmates in 2010.

Twenty-two Chinese Uighurs had been imprisoned at Guantanamo after being captured by US forces in Afghanistan, according to a Wikileaks-published prisoner list. Six have already been sent to Palau, a pacific island, and 11 others have been dispersed between Bermuda, Albania and Switzerland.

While none of the detainees were deemed terror suspects, the US was unable to repatriate the Uighurs as the Chinese government has a history of mistreating the group as the central Asian border region of Xinjiang has been home to some ethnic unrest. Some were believed to have had weapons training at an Afghan camp, according to the US.

A judge ordered the release of the remaining three in 2008, they were held at the prison camp because of problems in finding somewhere that would actually take them. The US government expressed its gratitude to Slovakia for its ‘humanitarian gesture’, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told the New York Times.

Nine detainees have left Guantanamo in December, and 11 since last summer. In April US President Barack Obama expressed his wish to renew efforts to close the prison, which has held prisoners since 2001, starting out with some 750.

In February, many of the men being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility launched a hunger strike against camp conditions. It was sparked by disrespectful treatment of the Quran. One month into the strike, attorneys for the men, many housed at the facilities infamous Camp 6, said the number refusing food had reached 100.

Following intense efforts to break detainees’ spirits, the number of strikers dwindled to 15 by December. That month, the US military announced it would no longer disclose information about the hunger strikes, saying its release “serves no operational purpose”.

Comments (12)


Douglas Dewar 02.01.2014 05:14

The Cheney administration abolished Habius Corpus rights for non yanks, legally ending democracy in the united states. When Obama took over it was expected he would restore democracy, restore Habius Corpus and close the obscenity at Guantanamo. He did neither. Obama is an educated man, has a law degree. He knows as well as you and I, the consequences of not restoring basic democratic legal rights. The empire is now official. Did you know that for 200 years after Agustus became emperor the roman empire was referred to as the roman republic ?


Douglas Dewar 02.01.2014 04:49

Of the 750 of so Guantanamo prisoners how many were suspected of being terrorists ? Half ? So yanks are OK with kidnapping, torturing, incarcerating hundreds of humans for a decade. Anyone else want to puke ? And these characters have the nerve to refer to others as the evil empire ! Not that there are not other nasty countries, but currently the yanks are the best at empire, and they clearly excel at evil.


Douglas Dewar 02.01.2014 04:36

Uighurs not sent to China for fear they might be mistreated, Two Algerians were recently sent, against their will { they begged to be sent elsewhere, offered to stay in Guantanamo } to Algeria. Algeria's well documented practice of torture explains why they preferred not to be sent there. So, let's see, Chinese muslims who may or may not oppose the state gov't are well treated. Arabs, not so much. Anybody think this behavior by the yanks might have unpleasant consequences down the road ?

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