Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bermuda Gives Safe Haven to 4 Uighur Guantánamo Detainees

Bermuda Gives Safe Haven to 4 Uighur Guantánamo Detainees
Attorneys Urge Other Nations to Follow

June 11, 2009, New York – In response to news of the release of four Uighur men from Guantánamo to Bermuda, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

The Center for Constitutional Rights extends its heartfelt congratulations to Huzaifa Parhat, Abdusemet, Abdulnasser, and Jalal Jalaldin. They are safe and free at last.

We also offer our thanks to the government and people of Bermuda for extending humanitarian protection to four of Guantanamo's refugees. These men want nothing more than their freedom and a chance to restart their lives. We welcome Bermuda’s willingness to look beyond the stigma of Guantanamo and see this reality.

We hope that Bermuda’s humanitarian gesture will encourage Australia, Portugal, Ireland, Canada, Germany and other countries in Europe to open their doors to resettlement of the remaining men who need a place to restart their lives. Many of these countries have already said that they would be willing to take in victims of Guantanamo. It is time for other countries to step forward and help close Guantanamo. After more than seven years of imprisonment, action is needed more than words. This holds true for our congressional representatives at home as well. Congress should immediately support the President's pledge to close Guantánamo on schedule.

Guantanamo is America's gulag. The long nightmare for four of these innocent men is finally coming to a close. They cannot recover the years that they lost, but we hope that they will be able to start their lives again in freedom. The reality, however, is that at least 60 prisoners will remain at Guantánamo until other countries agree to resettle them. The issue now is not what the law requires, or what the United States itself should do, it is a moral issue.

Congratulations to our colleagues at Bingham McCutchen for their tireless work on behalf of their Uighur clients.

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents four of the remaining Uighur prisoners, Adel Noori, Ahmad Tourson, Abdulghappar and Abdur Razakah.

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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