Jun 1 2009
To better prepare them for life in asylum, the U.S. military is setting up a virtual computer lab for 17 Uighur Muslim Guantánamo captives now cleared for release.
These captives already get to order fast-food takeout from the base and have access to a phone booth for weekly calls. Now some 17 Uighur Muslims awaiting a nation to grant them asylum are about to go high-tech, with laptops and web training.
While awaiting details of President Barack Obama’s order to close the prison camps by Jan. 22, commanders here have ordered 20 laptops for the captives of Camp Iguana.
”As you know, detainees are leaving this place,” said Army Lt. Col. Miguel Mendez, who oversees detainee classes, a multilingual library and now-emerging virtual computer lab. “We’re getting them computer classes to prepare for their return.”
But the Chinese citizens in exile have no place to go. As devout Muslims, they fear religious persecution in their homeland, in part because of the stigma of having been held at Guantánamo for allegedly getting paramilitary training in Afghanistan before Sept. 11, 2001.
Attorney General Eric Holder said some could come to the United States for resettlement, triggering protests from members of Congress around Virginia, where other Uighurs live and have offered to settle them.
On the one hand, the Pentagon released a report last week that said 5 percent of detainees released by the Bush administration later turned to terrorism — and that U.S. intelligence had their suspicions about another 9 percent who were freed. On the other, a State Department diplomat is peddling detainee portfolios to Europe in a bid to find some asylum in new nations. MIAMI HERALD
Beijing says Detainees Are Anti-China Terrorists
Li Wei is a counterterrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a government think tank in Beijing. He has studied the transcripts of the tribunal hearings, and he says the U.S. decision smacks of a double standard. “What would the American government think if China sheltered people who threatened America’s national security? They would probably see it as a provocation towards the U.S.,” he says.
Li says the men are all members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, which Beijing and Washington have listed as a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Critics say the U.S. agreed to list ETIM as a terrorist group in order to secure Beijing’s acquiescence to its invasion of Iraq. Lawyers representing the Uighurs say this was also the U.S. government’s motivation in allowing Chinese interrogators to question the Uighurs in Guantanamo.
The U.S. will probably ignore Beijing’s request to send the Uighurs back to China, for fear they might be imprisoned and tortured there. NPR