Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Chinese Muslims stay stranded at Guantánamo

Federal appeals court reverses an order that the 17 men be released into the US.

(Page 2 of 2)

The court concluded: "Whatever the scope of habeas corpus, the writ has never been compensatory in nature."

Skip to next paragraph

The court noted that the government says it is continuing to look for a country willing to resettle the Uighurs. "We have no reason to doubt that it is doing so," Randolph said. "Nor do we have the power to require anything more."

In October, Judge Urbina ordered the government to release the 17 Uighurs. In addition, he instructed the government to bring the Uighurs to the US to live while the Bush administration continued its efforts to resettle them.

The US government says it cannot return the men to their native China because, as members of the persecuted Uighur ethnic minority, they are likely to face human rights abuses.

Bush administration officials had told the judge that the government has been working for years to find a country willing to take the men. Some countries have balked for fear of damaging relations with China.

Lawyers working on behalf of the Uighurs have been fighting for their release during the same period. But now that they have won their case to have their clients released from military detention, it remains unclear whether their legal victory will result in actual freedom for their clients.

The decision comes weeks after President Obama took office and ordered the closing of the Guantánamo detention center. Some analysts are urging the new administration to adopt a more sympathetic approach toward the detained Uighurs.

"The new administration must act quickly to remedy the failings of the old," said Emi MacLean of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a written statement. "If President Obama is committed to closing Guantánamo, he must allow these stranded Uighurs into the United States."

She added, "We are not in a position to ask for the support of other countries in accepting detainees from Guantánamo if we cannot share the burden ourselves."

Several groups have volunteered to assist in their resettlement in the US, including the 600-member Uyghur-American Association. Seventeen Uighur-American families living in the Washington, D.C., area have offered to take the former Guantánamo detainees into their own homes to help resettle them.

In addition, a Tallahassee, Fla., faith-based group and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in Baltimore have pledged to help resettle the men in the US.