East Turkestan: Guantanamo Uyghurs Fate Needs Resolving
A Pentagon report on Monday [23 February 2009] said the US government needed to move quickly to help arrange the transfer of Chinese Uyghurs held at Guantanamo prison who have been cleared of wrongdoing.
The group of 17 Uyghurs face uncertainty about when they will leave the detention camp for terror suspects and their case has "increased tension and anxiety within the detainee population," the Defense Department report wrote.
"Therefore the Review Team requests that emphasis be placed on providing immediate assistance within the interagency (government) process on where to transfer these detainees," said the review, overseen by Admiral Patrick Walsh.
The Defense Department and the State Department have tried unsuccessfully for several years to arrange the transfer of the Uyghurs to a third country, as Washington fears the Uyghurs face the risk of persecution if they return to China.
Human rights groups have urged the government to release the Uyghurs within the United States in areas where there are Uighur communities.
Along with the Uighur detainees, there are two other detainees -- Algerians captured in Bosnia -- that US courts have ordered to be released from Guantanamo.
Other inmates at Guantanamo are aware that courts have cleared the Uyghurs for transfer but that they remain under detention, and that "breeds a climate that can be one with lots of friction," Walsh told a news conference at the Pentagon.
The Uyghurs and the two Algerian detainees are held at a section of the prison called "Camp Iguana," where they enjoy more freedoms than other inmates.
"Despite increased freedoms at Camp Iguana, the detainees there continue to vocally and physically express their extreme frustration with their continued detention at Guantanamo," the report said.