Kaua‘i group: Send us Gitmo detainees
By The Garden Island
Published: Friday, June 12, 2009 1:59 AM HST
LIHU‘E — A Kaua‘i group on Thursday sent a letter to Gov. Linda Lingle and the state’s congressional delegation requesting that the 17 Uighur nationals that are to be sent from the U.S. Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay to Palau instead be routed to Hawai‘i Islands.
The letter, sent by Ed Coll on behalf of the Kaua‘i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, asked Lingle, U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye and U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono to “invite the $200 million in federal money offered by the federal government to the Republic of Palau for accepting the innocent former detainees, and this money would supplement Hawai‘i’s current budget shortfall.”
“Moved by the presumption that you fully trust the determination of the federal judge, who ordered the 17 former detainees (Uighur nationals) released ... after the Pentagon determined that they are not ‘enemy combatants,’ the Kaua‘i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice calls for you, as Hawai‘i state officials, to extend an invitation to the Uighur national former detainees to come and settle on the Hawaiian Islands,” the letter said.
“We presume that you all are moved by aloha to extend welcome to the mistreated individuals and help them resettle and become useful members of the Hawaiian society, therefore the Kaua‘i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice urges you to negotiate with the U.S. Federal government on the terms and conditions for the resettlement in the State of Hawai‘i.
“These men have been ordered released by a federal court and the State of Hawai‘i could benefit greatly form the potential infusion of up to $200 million federal dollars in development and budget assistance for the resettlement of these men. After more than six years of illegal confinement, the United States owes these men more than their freedom, it owes them an apology and we can offer them the aloha spirit.
“What better aloha than this humanitarian gesture from Hawai‘i already known for its rich and diverse ethnic population? Hawai‘i can much more easily absorb these men than our Pacific Island neighbors in Palau. By helping these innocent men rebuild their shattered lives you, the elected representatives of the State of Hawai‘i will confirm your belief in serving justice and supporting valuable Hawaiian traditions of aloha with action.
“Inspired by this action, other countries such as Australia, Germany, and others may reconsider and accept other former detainees once it has been determined they are not enemy combatants. The Kaua‘i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice urges other progressive, peace, justice, religious and sovereignty groups and organizations to support our efforts in serving true justice.”
There had been no formal announcements made by any Hawai‘i government offices regarding the proposal as of press time.