The View From Guantánamo

Innocent man like Mr. Qassim is kept prisoner in cages of Guantanamo. Years after years. Mr. Qasim is from Uighur in China where he and his kinsmen are oppressed brutally by the Chinese government apparatus. Economically suppressed Uighur's citizens travel far, working menial and labor intensive jobs so that their family can survive. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Qassim's New York Time's Op-Ed: "Amnesty International reports that East Turkistan is the only province in China where people may face the death penalty for political offenses. Chinese leaders brag about the number of Uighur political prisoners shot in the head. I was punished for speaking against China’s unjust policies, and I left because of the threat to my life. My search for work and refuge took me from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Once upon a time America was the place that dissenters like Mr. Qasim look forward to gain moral support in their endless struggles against unjust domination and forced subjugation by the powerfuls around the world. Guantanamo and numerous other hidden places like that have changed that view for many. Despite the growing agitations America still has many friends, deeply wounded, but friends indeed. It would surely be interesting to see whether America regain back its lost reputation, its high regard in the humanitarian world.



The View From Guantánamo

Tirana, Albania

I HAVE been greatly saddened to hear that the Congress of the United States, a country I deeply admire, is considering new laws that would deny prisoners at Guantánamo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.

I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America’s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantánamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only the country’s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right — or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guantánamo today. Will they be stranded there forever?

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