Is it only me, or is there something very odd about the BBC News website article below?
“A senior US official has described as a “significant step” Portugal’s offer of asylum for some inmates from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay…In a letter to EU members this week, Portugal urged them to follow its lead.
The US has cleared 50 to 60 detainees for release, but it cannot repatriate them due to the risk of mistreatment.
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to close down the detention centre soon after he takes office in January, but he is yet to set out what will happen to the 250 men currently being held there.
This is the first breaking of the ice in European resistance in trying to help out with Guantanamo
John Bellinger, Legal Adviser to the US Secretary of State, “The time has come for the European Union to step forward,” he wrote.
Albania is the only country to have so far accepted Guantanamo detainees, taking in five members of China’s Uighur* ethnic minority on humanitarian grounds in 2006.
Mr Bellinger said the Portuguese government’s public offer was, therefore, “really quite a significant initiative that we welcome very much”.
The state department’s legal adviser said that there were 50 to 60 so-called “hard cases” at Guantanamo, including several Uighurs, who the US has been unable to repatriate because of human rights concerns in the home countries.
“[The Uighurs] were properly detained, they were in training camps… but they wanted to fight the Chinese. So there’s no question that we had the proper authority to detain them,” he told the BBC in an interview.
“Since we determined who they were, and that they were not intent on fighting us, we’ve been trying to release them. But China is the only country that wants them back,” he added.
Beijing has frequently cracked down on Uighur dissidents, who it accuses of seeking an independent homeland in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.”
Ethnically Turkic Muslims, mainly in Xinjiang province
Made bid for independent state in 1940s
Sporadic violence in Xinjiang since 1991
Uighurs worried about Chinese immigration and erosion of traditional culture
Ok, two things that stand out from the above (which is a cut down of the original article). Firstly, what the hell is this US official talking about when he says it’s time for Europe to ‘step forward’? Sorry we haven’t had a hand in the US’ illegal detention of possibly innocent men for the past 7 years, I guess it’s a dereliction of duties on our part as US client states…
Secondly, the US have been concerned about returning the Uighurs due to the possible mistreatment they will face if they go back to China? So the US government, who has been holding these men without any legal rights or process, and from what most people can tell, would have dished out at least a modicum of torture/distress is concerned for these men’s health and safety back in China?! The fact that the BBC reports this as matter of fact, and the article goes on to give a couple of points of information regarding China’s crackdown on this minority speaks volumes. So the US use torture lite (TM) and hold people illegally, but the Chinese may be even worse, so it’s a tricky situation? I really find this article a stunning example of all that’s wrong in western politics and the media.