China’s Persecuted Minority: How Did 22 Uighurs End Up in Gitmo?

The Guantanamo 22

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

The Guantanamo 22 is about 22 Uighur refugees who spent seven years at Gitmo after they were sold to US forces for $5,000 each by the Pakistan military and Afghan warlords.

The Uighurs are an oppressed Turkic ethnic minority who have been persecuted by the Chinese ever since China invaded their country (Gulja) in 1949. In 2000-2001, a number sought asylum in Afghanistan after being arrested, beaten and tortured for their participating in Islamic advocacy protests.

As one of the only countries with no extradition treaty with China, prior to 9-11 Afghanistan had an established Uighur community.

After US bombing began in late 2001, the Uighur village where they lived was destroyed, and 18 survivors sought refuge in Pakistan. The villagers who took them in tricked them and handed them over to the Pakistan army. Four others were kidnapped by warlords in Afghanistan.

Once they arrived in Guantanamo, the US military allowed Chinese authorities to interrogate and torture torture them for four days – in exchange for a promise China would support the US invasion of Iraq at the UN Security Council.*

By October 2002, after 10 months at Guantanamo, all 22 had been through the Status Review Board (ie a military tribunal in which detainees are denied access to a lawyer and the right to present evidence or challenge the US military’s evidence) and found innocent of all terrorism charges. Yet it still took another seven years for most of them to be released.

In late 2002, they were finally allowed to see a lawyer working with the Center for Constitutional Rights. The first three were transferred to Albania (which still regards them as terrorists), to spare the US government the embarrassment of defending an appeal against their unlawful detention.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that all Guantanamo detainees had the right to appeal their detention in US federal court. A short time later, a federal judge ordered the release of the other 19 Uighurs. Shortly after his inauguration, Obama attempted to transfer two of them to Virginia, but this was blocked by Congress.

In June 2009, the US reached agreement with Bermuda to take four Uighurs. In October 2009, Pelau agreed to take six, in return for a steep increase in US aid. Switzerland, El Salvador agreed to take the rest, though many remain stateless persons in their host countries and not allowed passports.


*China ultimately reneged on this commitment

The film can’t be embedded but can be viewed for free at The Guantanamo 22

The Real Cause of the Revolutionary War: Preserving Slavery

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Black Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America

Professor Gerald Horne

In this lecture about his 2014 book, African American history professor Gerald Horne exposes important events that triggered the so-called War of Independence. He makes a compelling case that the decision of the 13 colonies to declare independence in 1776 was a direct result of George III’s 1775 decision to establish all-black Ethiopian regiments to fight colonial regiments in Virginia (the colony that produced Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other high profile members of the independence movement). Odd, isn’t it, that white historians neglect to mention this important fact in our high school textbooks?

According to Horne, there was a clear precedent for arming African troops in North America. In the 18th century, both the French (who occupied Quebec) and the Spanish (who occupied Florida) armed escaped slaves to attack the English colonies. Collaboration between the armed Africans and black slaves led to several major slave revolts in the 18th century. Two of the most important were the 1712 slave uprising in Manhattan (backed by the French) and the  1739 Stono’s Revolt in South Carolina (led by a coalition of Spanish armed Africans from St. Augustine Florida and Portuguese-speaking slaves from Angola).

Horne also believes the timing of the 1776 “War of Independence” also related to Britain’s decision to abolish slavery in 1772 – and fears King George would extend the ban on slavery to the 13 colonies.

In summing up, Horne traces how this willingness to go to war over the diabolical (but immensely profitable) institution of slavery would shape the ruthlessly greedy and mean-spirited character of the American nation. Unlike the US, Canada, which never adopted slavery nor fought two wars to preserve it, has made a genuine effort to look after its poor and underprivileged. Horne gives the example of the universal single payer health system.

Horne believes this hidden history also accounts for the special persecution of the descendents of slaves, as opposed to non-US natives with black skin.

There is a very long introduction. The actual talk starts at 9:24.