We are grateful to Slovakia for resettling the three remaining Uighurs from Guantánamo, ending one of the most tragic chapters in Guantánamo’s twelve-year history. This is a profound humanitarian gesture toward three men the U.S. government long recognized were innocent of any wrongdoing and never should have been brought to Guantánamo. Unfortunately, their release was delayed for a decade during which they endured terrible physical and psychological abuse at Guantánamo.It is important to remember that the Uighurs were pawns in a geopolitical saga that involved an agreement by the United States to hold them as “terrorists” in exchange for China’s agreement not to interfere with U.S. efforts to obtain a UN Security Council resolution that would pave the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is especially heartbreaking that when the Uighurs were turned over to U.S. forces following the invasion of Afghanistan, they thought they had been saved. They viewed America as the only superpower capable of standing up to China, and thought that they would be treated fairly and humanely. Sadly, they came to symbolize the tragedy of Guantánamo.
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