ISSUES & CASES

TALDF ASSISTS JUDICIAL VICTORY FOR UIGHUR DETAINESS

On October 3, 2008, the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF) filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of seventeen Uighurs detained as “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay . See Kabir et al. v. Bush (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Nos. 05-1704, 05-1509, 05-1602, 05- 2386, 05-2370, 05-2398). (An amicus brief can be filed by interested persons or organizations that are not the actual parties to the litigation to assist the Court in understanding complex legal questions and practical ramifications of the case). The United States Department of Defense alleged the Uighurs were “associates” of Al Qaeda. Most had been held for six years without an opportunity to challenge the factual or legal foundations for their detentions in habeas corpus proceedings before an impartial and independent federal judge.

On June 12, 2008, the United States Supreme Court held that the Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoyed a constitutional right to habeas corpus. The Uighur detainees promptly invoked the Great Writ in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia . TALDF filed an amicus brief because of the Uighurs’ Turkish ethnicity. The amicus brief amplified on the centuries of ethnic and religious bigotry exhibited by western nations against nations, organizations, or persons of Turkish ethnicity. The brief argued that the District Court should be alert to this deeply ingrained western prejudice in finding facts and interpreting the law in addressing the habeas corpus petitions.

Soon after the filing of the TALDF amicus, the Department of Defense conceded that it had no evidence to substantiate its allegation that the Uighur detainees were enemy combatants, although they had been detained on the contrary assumption for more than six years. The remaining issue before the District Court was whether the Uighurs should be released into the United States , or whether their detentions should continue until the United States can locate a country that would accept them despite fear of retaliation by the People’s Republic of China . The ROC, dominated by the Han Chinese, insists that all Uighurs are terrorists. If they were returned to China , there is a high probability they would face persecution, torture, and possibly execution. The United States earlier deported five Uighurs to Albania after concluding they would probably be tortured if delivered to China .

On October 7, 2008, the District Court ordered all seventeen Uighurs released into the United States —a high water mark in the history of liberty.

The government has filed an emergency motion to stay the release order in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

To receive a copy of the Amicus Brief, please send an email to David Saltzman (dsaltzman@taldf.org)

 

 
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Turkish American Legal Defense Fund - TALDF
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