This closing of Guantanamo will be a mess....
Guantanamo Bay Uighur prisoner release overturned
An American federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to release 17 ethnic Uighurs detained at Guantanamo Bay into the United States, spelling more legal limbo for the men cleared by Washington of "war on terror" allegations.
Feb. 18, 2009
A judge ruled last year that the Uighurs, members of a Chinese Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority, were no longer enemy combatants and should be released in the United States.
The 17 were captured by American forces in Afghanistan and fear torture if they return home. Beijing regards the men as "Chinese terrorists".
By a two-to-one vote, a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that a federal judge does not have the authority to decide who can legally enter the United States, a power they said resides only with the president or Congress.
Congress? Looks like we're in trouble on this one...
The court struck down an Oct 8 ruling by US District Judge Ricardo Urbina who ordered the federal government to free the 17 men in the Washington area where there is a large Uighur community.
The Uighurs have been imprisoned at the American detention centre at Guantanamo for six years, even though they were cleared two years ago of being "enemy combatants".
The United States has been struggling to find a third country to take the 17 Uighurs. China's foreign ministry earlier this month warned Canada not to accept three of them seeking asylum, saying Beijing was "opposed to any country accepting those people".
The Uighurs were living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the US-led bombing campaign began in October 2001. They fled to the mountains, but were turned over to Pakistani authorities, who then handed them over to the United States.
What The Uighurs Decision Means
The White House was expecting today's decision and, in a way, welcomes it, because it gives that branch maximal authority to decide what to do with Guantanamo detainees, preventing federal judges from unilaterally ordering the release of a detainee into the country. As I understand the reasoning, the 17 detainees in question don't possess habeus corpus right simply because the previous administration incorrectly or injudiciously deemed them to be "enemy combatants." Judge A. Raymond Randolph asks "what law authorized the district court to order the government to bring petitioners to the United States and release them here?"
Why is the Obama administration OK with this outcome? Because they want flexibility, even if it means that, in the end, federal judges will have more authority than they currently do.
The following was written in 1997:
One of the lesser known groups of people in China is the Uighurs of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. These people are also referred to as the Uigurs, Uygurs, Weiwuers, Sarts, Taranchis, or Kashgarliks. The land that they occupy in northern China is also known as Eastern Turkestan, Ughuristan, Uyghuria, Chinese Turkistan, Xinjiang, or Singkiang. However, the majority of Uighurs refer to it as Eastern Turkestan.
Within China, the majority of the people belong to the Han ethnic group. The Uighurs is one of the minority groups within China which China is quickly trying to obliterate from existence by the infiltration of the Chinese majority group, the Han, into their society. Many of the methods of obliteration are outlined in the following pages. China seeks to weaken the group in order to maintain the wealthy region of northern China known as Xinjiang and prevent losing the region by internal dissention within the minority groups of the region, the Muslim Uighurs being a primary one.