Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Guantanamo Uighurs

According to a Canadian Press report released yesterday, Canada was approached by the U.S. on several occasions to accept as refugees in Canada 23 Uighurs that were transported to their Prison Camp at Guantanamo Bay ("Canada balked at Guantanamo refugees: documents" by Jennifer Ditchburn: But we refused to take them. According to the report: "The sticking point seemed to be a point of principle. Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, refugees cannot make claims to enter Canada from the United States except under a few specific exceptions, such as fear they would face the death penalty in America." Presently 17 of the men are still being held in the Camp and live in isolation for 22 hours a day. Five of them were accepted by Albania where they live under difficult conditions and face the risk of Albania giving in to Chinese pressure and being repatriated to China.

I am unclear why it is deemed to be a case that falls under the "Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement." Actually those Uighurs have never been in the USA to my knowledge. The Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp is purposively located outside the USA. Seems to me that Canada could have negotiated concessions in other matters out of the USA if Canada had agreed to help the USA, who apparently feel embarrassed about their incarceration and very harsh treatment of men who are evidently not terrorists or guilty of any crimes. Now Canada bears some responsibility for whatever happens to the 5 Uighurs presently in Albania. Surely we don't want to add another tragedy after the DFAIT mishandling of Mr. Celil's case. Best thing would be to bring them to safety here in Canada.

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