US court backs Guantanamo inmate
The US military base at Guantanamo has housed prisoners since 2002
A US court has for the first time rejected the classification of a prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay as an "enemy combatant".
Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Muslim, has been held since he was captured in Afghanistan in 2001.
He is now free to seek immediate release in a US district court.
Earlier this month, a US Supreme Court ruling gave foreign Guantanamo Bay detainees the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts.
Mr Parhat is an ethnic Uighur from Xinjiang province in China, where it meets Central Asia.
The US government argued he was a member of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, which it said had links to al-Qaeda.
But Mr Parhat's lawyers said China and not the United States was his enemy.
Uighur activists are seeking autonomy from China, and there are sporadic outbreaks of violence in the province.
Headache for US
The three-judge panel directed the US military to release Mr Parhat, transfer him or promptly set up a new military tribunal to try him.
The court also specified that Mr Parhat could petition a federal judge for his immediate release in light of the Supreme Court's 12 June decision.
Mr Parhat is one of several Uighurs being held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Their case has become a diplomatic and legal headache for the US, which has tried to find a country willing to accept the Uighurs at the same time as defending its decision to hold them as enemy combatants.
A Day in the Life of a Uighur Detainee at Gitmo's Camp Six
On May 20, 2008, Sabin Willit, a corporate lawyer from Boston who represents Huzaifa Parhat, the Uighur detainee whose designation as an "enemy combatant" was reversed Friday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight. From his testimony:
One of my clients is Huzaifa Parhat. He’s never been charged with anything. He never will be. In fact, he’s been cleared for release for years. Two weeks ago he began his seventh year at Guantanamo.
....Huzaifa lives in a place called Camp Six. My information, which dates from March, is that all the Uighurs but one are kept there. The men call it the dungeon above the ground. Each lives alone in an isolation cell. There is no natural light or air. There is no way to tell whether it is day or night. Outside the cell is a noisy bedlam of banging doors and the indistinct shouts of desperate men crouching at door cracks. A mad-house. Inside the cell, nothing.
Mr. Chairman, can you remember the last time you were alone -- I mean really alone? Nothing to read, no phone, music, computer, television, radio, activity; no companion, no one to talk to. That’s been Huzaifa’s life for most of the time since December, 2006.
For two hours in twenty four, the MPs shackle and lead Huzaifa to the rec area. This is a two-story chimney, about four meters square. It is his only chance to talk to another human being, or see the sun. But his rec time might be night; it might be after midnight. Weeks go by during which he never sees the sun at all. Mr. Chairman, you try talking to a man who only wants to see the sun. You will never forget the experience.
In the cell he can crouch at the door, and yell through the crack at the bottom. The fellow in the next cell may respond, or he might be curled in the fetal position, staring at the wall. Another Uighur told us of the voices in his head. The voices were getting the better of him. His foot was tapping on the floor. I don’t know what’s happened to him: he doesn’t come out of the cell to see us any more.
A letter from a third was released last December. He wondered, did someone need to commit suicide before anyone notices? A friend has a client who used to be thought of by the command as a model prisoner, well grounded, level headed. Now he has lost hope; he has lost control; he seethes with anger. His mind is wrecked by isolation.
Huzaifa believes he will die in Guantanamo. Last year he asked us to pass a message to his wife that she should remarry.
The Uighurs are not the enemy.
As to Parhat's 's beliefs:
He believes in freedom of worship and denounces state-enforced abortion. He doesn’t care for communism. In China, beliefs like Huzaifa’s are called “intellectual terrorism.” Uighurs are regularly tortured for it. Some are put to death. I can remember when we Americans admired people who stood up for such beliefs in the face of tyranny. Now we offer them -- what do they call it? -- a “single occupancy” cell in Camp Six.
Interrogators advised in 2003 that his capture was a mistake. State has been trying to find a country to which to send him. But our allies read the same shrill rhetoric about Guantanamo that you have read. And the shadow of the communists falls over all the capitals of Europe. Nobody else wants Huzaifa. I used to think of us Americans, Mr. Chairman, as broad-shouldered, able to admit mistakes and put them right, but my government thinks we are a small people, so panicked by real enemies that we lock up imaginary ones. Forever.
When did we become such a small people?
...actually, it's "Sabin Willett". I should know, because he works for the same firm I work for (I docket events for those cases, among other things). I hope these poor guys can get released someday soon.
a wad of cash and citizenship for his trouble. .. er sorry mate...would you like to stay and buy a farm and some pony's? (Uigher's if they tribal like horses. They are a bit like Tartar's, Turk's and Mongols.)
my government has done in recent years that utterly disgust me, this one makes my personal top 10 list.
If I was one of the poor innocent slobs locked up there without a habeaus hearing for 6+ years and I was lucky enough to see the light of day again....I'd be looking for blood.
Last month a lawyer for nine detainees who are members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority told a Congressional committee that one of them, Huzaifa Parhat, said that life at Guantánamo was like having already died. The lawyer, P. Sabin Willett, said Mr. Parhat asked the lawyers to pass on a message. He told them to tell his wife to remarry.
United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
No. 06-1397 September Term 2007
Filed On: June 23, 2008
Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, et al.,
BEFORE: Sentelle, Chief Judge, and Garland and Griffith, Circuit Judges
N O T I C E
On Friday, June 20, 2008, the court issued an opinion to the parties in the
above-captioned case. Pursuant to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the
court held invalid a decision of a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that
petitioner Huzaifa Parhat is an enemy combatant. The court directed the
government to release or to transfer Parhat, or to expeditiously hold a new
Tribunal consistent with the court's opinion. The court also stated that its
disposition was without prejudice to Parhat's right to seek release immediately
through a writ of habeas corpus in the district court, pursuant to the Supreme
Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, slip op. at 65-66 (U.S.
June 12, 2008). Because the opinion contains classified information and
information that the government had initially submitted for treatment under seal, a
redacted version for public release is in preparation.
FOR THE COURT:
Mark J. Langer, Clerk
BY: /s/Nancy G. Dunn
Case: 06-1397 Document: 0120630909 Page: 1