For Immediate Release
Citizens Urge New Attorney General Holder & President Obama to Release 17 Uighur Guantanamo Prisoners Into the US
Procession to Justice Department Today
WASHINGTON - Key human rights groups are urging President Barack Obama and Attorney
General Eric Holder to take a simple step that will right a seven-year
wrong: they want him to lift the Bush administration's appeal of
Judge Ricardo Urbina's order to release the 17 Uighurs imprisoned in
Guantanamo. This act would let stand Judge Urbina's order to bring the
men into the United States immediately. Part of a Muslim ethnic
minority in China, the Uighurs would likely face persecution by the
Chinese government if returned to China.
Witness Against Torture is coordinating national call-in days for
concerned people to plead with Attorney General Holder and President
Obama to withdraw the Bush administration's appeal. Over 20
organizations are urging their members to contact The White House and
the Justice Department. The call-in is part of the 100 Days Campaign
to Close Guantanamo and End Torture, which maintains a daily vigil
from 11am to 1pm in front of the White House. This week the vigil
banner reads "Free the Uighurs."
Today's vigil will include a procession to the Justice Department at
11:15 am to welcome Attorney General Eric Holder and ask him to make
his first official act as Attorney General the dropping of the appeal
in the Uighur case.
"Every new day of imprisonment without charge is another cruel
injustice for all the men held at Guantanamo, but especially for the
Uighurs, who have already been exonerated and ordered released by a
U.S. court of law," said Carmen Trotta of Witness Against Torture.
"At our daily vigil, when we tell bystanders about the hopeless
political limbo these men are in, they are outraged too. We're only
asking for the change President Obama promised: restore the rule of
The government admits that the Uighurs were never "enemy combatants"
against the U.S. – they were sold to U.S. forces by bounty hunters.
In October 2008 U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina held that
their continued detention is unlawful. In a dramatic decision, he
ordered the men brought into the United States within 72 hours and
delivered into his courtroom so that details of their settlement could
be discussed. The Justice Department under the Bush administration
immediately appealed, however, and the Uighurs have remained
imprisoned under maximum security conditions.