Photo: Justin Maxon/The New York Times Last Sunday, The New York Times printed a pleasant piece on the new lives of four recently released Uighur prisoners in Bermuda, debunked the conservative rhetoric around them as "dangerous terrorists." The Uighurs’ history is a harsh one: after fleeing persecution by their own government and countrymen, these Chinese Muslims were bombed out of Afghanistan and turned in to American forces by Pakistanis. Despite being cleared of all charges of terrorism, they were held in Guantanamo Bay for seven years. Thirteen more Uighurs will resettle in the Pacific nation of Palau, as the U.S. fears they will be executed if they return to their native China. After having spent a year in solitary confinement, the former prisoners are now enjoying long walks on the beach, fishing and ice cream. Here are my favorite excerpts from the article:
Now they can play in the waters. Khaleel Mamut, 31, said he went fishing on a boat on Saturday and caught his first fish ever. “I was so excited,” he said. “You just drop the hook in the water and you get a fish.” Hearing that fishing did not always bring such quick results, one of the other men quipped that perhaps the fish were joining in Bermuda’s welcome. … “Before we were asking, ‘Why are the Americans doing this to us?’ ” said Mr. Abdulahat. Now, he said, with others nodding in agreement, “We have ended up in such a beautiful place. We don’t want to look back, and we don’t have any hard feelings toward the United States.”
It’s quite a different picture than the fear-mongering and exaggerations pushed by right-wing pundits. Ed Morrissey has joked that tourists might want to avoid visiting Palau because of the Uighurs’ presence, while Obsidian Wings blog has debunked one of Newt Gingrich’s half truths of Uighur violence. Finally, back in March, when the Uighurs were still looking for a new place to live, Glenn Beck suggested just shooting the supposed enemy combatants, completely disregarding their innocent ruling. The fervent campaign of the right to instill fear in the minds of Americans continues, despite the fact that the U.S. would not take Uighurs in, and that they do not hold any animosity toward the U.S.. It’s obvious, now that the Uighurs are free, that the pundits of the right felt threatened by their race and religion, not their post-detention agendas of eating ice cream and fishing.