The Defense Department released the last three Uighurs from Guantanamo Bay in an agreement with Slovakia.
Originally, 22 of the Chinese Muslims had been detained at the facility, with the majority determined eventually to not be enemy combatants. They all refused to go back to China, though, where they maintained that they’d face harm at the hands of the communist government, which views the Uighurs as rebels against the state.
So the U.S. has been trying to find new homes for them, relocating six to the island nation of Palau a few years ago.
Today, the Pentagon announced the transfer of Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik, and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper.
“These three are the last ethnic Uighur Chinese nationals to be transferred. They were subject to release from Guantanamo as a result of a court order issued on Oct. 7, 2008, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and are voluntarily resettling in Slovakia,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
“As directed by the president’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these individuals were designated for transfer by unanimous consent among all six agencies on the task force.”
Kirby added that “in accordance with statutory reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals.”
“The United States is grateful to the government of Slovakia for this humanitarian gesture and its willingness to support U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the government of Slovakia to ensure the transfer took place in accordance with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” he said.
“This transfer and resettlement constitutes a significant milestone in our effort to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Secretary Hagel remains grateful to the Defense Department’s Special Envoy Paul Lewis, and Department of State Special Envoy Cliff Sloan, for their and their respective teams’ many efforts that facilitated this successful transfer.”
This leaves 155 detainees at Gitmo after nine releases in December.