Portugal’s Bold Initiative Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy on Guantanamo

Last week Portugal offered to accept some Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release by the Pentagon but who cannot return to their home countries. In a letter to his counterparts in other European Union countries, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado urged them to do the same. Portugal’s commendable initiative is based on a recognition that it is no longer acceptable for European governments to sit back and carp from the sidelines.

(c) US DoD

(c) US DoD

Closing Guantanamo simply cannot be accomplished without other governments’ assistance in resettling some of the detainees.  According to the New York Times, Luis Serradas Tavares, a legal adviser in Portugal’s foreign ministry, acknowledged that the Portuguese people probably would be hesitant to accept detainees who had been labeled dangerous terrorists by the U.S., but he added that his government was nevertheless willing to do so because “the U.S. has assured us that these people are the least dangerous people.”

It is past time for the U.S. to follow its own advice to European governments and Portugal’s example. In the case of 17 Chinese Uighurs, who belong to a persecuted ethnic, religious (Muslim), and linguistic minority in China, the U.S. continues to vehemently oppose efforts by their lawyers to get them admitted into the U.S. Most of the Uighurs have long been cleared for release, and they never should have been sent to Guantanamo in the first place.

In classic Orwellian fashion, the Pentagon has reclassified them as “no longer enemy combatants” (NLEC). There is a community of Uighurs in the Washington, DC, area that is fully prepared to assist the Uighur detainees, including by providing housing and employment assistance to help put these men on the path to becoming self-supporting. Releasing them into the United States clearly is the best option for them, as there are very few other places where there is already a well-established Uighur community that speaks the same language and can provide such a range of support services for these men.

However, the U.S. persists in keeping the Uighurs in a “Catch-22” bind by arguing both that (1) the Uighurs no longer pose a threat to U.S. national security but (2) they are inadmissible under U.S. immigration laws, which automatically deem foreign nationals who have received “weapons training” abroad to be dangerous. (At least some of the Uighurs allegedly received some training in the use of firearms in Afghanistan after they fled there from China.)

This matter is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The rest of the world is watching to see what the U.S. does about the Uighurs, whose plight Amnesty International has called a “monstrous absurdity.” As U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina found in October, the U.S. government has never produced a shred of credible evidence that the Uighurs in any way pose a danger to the U.S. As long as the U.S. continues to stubbornly insist on its internally contradictory argument, reluctance by other governments to follow Portugal’s example is likely to persist.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

7 thoughts on “Portugal’s Bold Initiative Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy on Guantanamo

  1. Amnesty has been campaigning on behalf of the Uighurs for a long time! If you go to http://www.amnestyusa.org, for example, and select "war on terror" from the issue menu, and then click "individual cases", you will see Urgent Action appeals we have issued on their behalf. A number of local Amnesty groups have been campaigning on their behalf.

  2. Amnesty has been campaigning on behalf of the Uighurs for a long time! If you go to http://www.amnestyusa.org, for example, and select "war on terror" from the issue menu, and then click "individual cases", you will see Urgent Action appeals we have issued on their behalf. A number of local Amnesty groups have been campaigning on their behalf.

  3. Amnesty has been campaigning on behalf of the Uighurs for a long time! If you go to http://www.amnestyusa.org, for example, and select "war on terror" from the issue menu, and then click "individual cases", you will see Urgent Action appeals we have issued on their behalf. A number of local Amnesty groups have been campaigning on their behalf.

  4. Amnesty has been campaigning on behalf of the Uighurs for a long time! If you go to http://www.amnestyusa.org, for example, and select “war on terror” from the issue menu, and then click “individual cases”, you will see Urgent Action appeals we have issued on their behalf. A number of local Amnesty groups have been campaigning on their behalf.

  5. Pingback: Algarve property - Albufeira Real Estate. Properties in the entire Algarve coast of Portugal.