East Turkestan: Chinese Uyghur Muslims Plead In Court For US Release
Below is an article published by therawstory:
Lawyers for the five remaining Uyghur Chinese Muslims at the Guantanamo prison camp argued in court Thursday that the men should be set free on US soil after more than eight years in detention.
A three-member panel of judges at the US Court of Appeals in Washington heard attorneys petition for release of the men, who were swept up by US troops in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.
The Chinese Muslims, who ultimately were cleared of all terrorism charges, are part of a larger group of 22 Uyghur formerly detained at Guantanamo, who have since been parceled out throughout the globe, to countries as disparate as Albania, Switzerland and Palau.
But the five Uyghur remaining at Guantanamo have rejected offers of resettlement on the Pacific island nation of Palau, where six Uyghur were relocated in October.
Their attorneys argued that they should be allowed to come to the United States instead.
"Are the petitioners presently being unlawfully detained? That's the question here," said Judge Judith Rogers in court, summing up the plaintiffs' brief.
Government attorney Sharon Swingle, representing President Barack Obama’s administration, said the men "are not being unlawfully detained."
"The government's view is that Palau is an appropriate and safe resettlement. But it's much more likely that the resettlement will be successful if the detainees wish to go," Swingle said.
Meanwhile, Sabin Willett, an attorney for the Chinese Muslims, argued that of past locations for Uighur resettlements, "Albania was not appropriate," and Palau offered "only a temporary resettlement -- not citizenship" for the men.
Willett said some Uyghur took placements that were far from ideal, just to be able to leave the prison camp.
"Certain detainees concluded, anything but Guantanamo," he said.
The US Supreme Court last month declined a petition to weigh in on the case, and US officials have faced a quandary in trying to figure out how and where to free them.
Washington has refused to send the men -- members of a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority -- back to China, fearing they would be persecuted there.
A US federal judge in October 2008 granted the Uyghur the right to be freed on US soil, but the ruling was overturned. The Supreme Court since ordered the lower court to have another look at the case.
US lawmakers have also have blocked the Uyghur from being released in the United States.
In addition to the five Uyghur remaining at Guantanamo and the six in Palau, another two Uyghur were resettled in Switzerland, while five were taken in by Albania in 2006 and four by Bermuda.
The roughly eight million Uyghur, a Central Asian people who live in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, accuse China of political, cultural and religious repression.