An attorney with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel contacted me two months ago to ask for my assistance on behalf of one of her firm’s Uighur clients who had recently been released from Guantanamo to Palau.
Kramer Levin’s client, a 38-year-old Uighur named Ahmad Abdulahad, was captured in Afghanistan soon after the American invasion in October 2001. His left leg was severely injured during an air strike at Qalai Janghi Prison near Mazar-E-Sharif, where he was being held prior to his transfer to Guantanamo.
Ahmad’s leg was amputated soon after his arrival in Guantanamo, and a prosthetic device was supplied by the U.S. military. The prosthesis was never fitted properly. As a result, Ahmad’s mobility has been very limited and he experiences chronic pain. Whether he is walking, sitting, or standing, the prosthesis rubs against his residual limb. This causes blistering, which is aggravated in the hot, humid climate of Palau.
Ahmad was born in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, a western province of the People’s Republic of China. As an ethnic Uighur (a Turkic Muslim minority), he suffered severe repression under China’s rule. Ahmad is an educated man with a wife and three children. He left his home to escape persecution in 2000. He traveled to Kyrgyzstan and later to Pakistan. Like many Uighur refugees, he finally settled in Afghanistan, the only Central Asian country where he was unlikely to face extradition to China.
Ahmad was living in Kabul at the time of the U.S. invasion. When the fighting moved closer to the city, he joined the crowds of civilians fleeing north. Although unarmed and unaffiliated with any of the warring factions, he was captured by the forces of the notorious warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum and turned over to the Americans for a bounty of $5,000.
Now, eight years later, Ahmad is finally a free man. Despite the terrible adversities that he has faced, he is extraordinarily motivated to begin a new life, to find employment, and to become self-sufficient. But he needs extensive medical care.