Some Gitmo Prisoners Don't Want to Go Home
By BEN FOX, Associated Press Writer March 6, 2006
Fearing militants or even their own governments, some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay from China, Saudi Arabia and other nations do not want to go home, according to transcripts of hearings at the U.S. prison in Cuba.
Uzbekistan, Yemen, Algeria and Syria are also among the countries to which detainees do not want to return. The inmates have told military tribunals that they or their families could be tortured or killed if they are sent back.
Inmates have told military tribunals they worry about reprisals from militants who will suspect them of cooperating with U.S. authorities in its war on terror. Others say their own governments may target them for reasons that have nothing to do with why they were taken to Guantanamo Bay in the first place.
A man from Syria who was detained along with his father pleaded with the tribunal for help getting them political asylum — in any country that will take them.
"You've been saying 'terrorists, terrorists.' If we return, whether we did something or not, there's no such things as human rights. We will be killed immediately," he said. "You know this very well."
A Saudi identified only as Yasim, who said he attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and was jailed in his country for selling drugs, told the tribunal that after being repeatedly interrogated at Guantanamo, he fears his fellow prisoners as well as others back in Saudi Arabia.
"I can't go back to my country. I have been threatened to be killed by many people," he said, according to the transcripts, which the Pentagon released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit filed by The Associated Press.
A detainee from Uzbekistan told the tribunals in December 2004 that his father and uncles were jailed for their Muslim faith in his native country and said he fears the rest of his family would be tortured if he returned.
The prisoner shrugged off the threat to his own safety in Uzbekistan, where the government has clamped down on Islamic groups which are not sanctioned by the state.
"I'm not afraid to die. We all belong to Allah and we shall return to him," he said.
In the case of one group of prisoners, Muslims from western China known as Uighurs, the U.S. has struggled to find a solution.
A military tribunal has determined that five are "no longer enemy combatants" and can be released from Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. agrees they could face persecution back in China but so far has not found a third country to take them.
For now, the Uighurs are being kept at Camp Iguana, a privileged section of the prison with televisions, stereos and a view of the Caribbean.
A Uighur told a military tribunal that he feared going back to China so much, he considered trying to convince the panel that he was guilty, according to a hearing transcript.
"If I am sent back to China, they will torture me really bad," said the man, whose name did not appear in the transcript. "They will use dogs. They will pull out my nails."
Two of the Uighurs are appealing a federal judge's rejection of their request to be released in the United States, where a family in the Washington suburbs has offered to take them in.