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Former Guantanamo detainees arrive in Jura

Two former detainees held by the United States authorities in the Guantanamo prison camp have arrived in Switzerland.

The two brothers, ethnic Uighurs from China, were admitted on humanitarian grounds and will be supported by a group that helps immigrants, the federal justice and police ministry said in a statement.

The men are adapting to their new lives in canton Jura in northwestern Switzerland, cantonal president Charles Juillard said. No further information was released on the men, including where they are living, to guard their privacy.

Switzerland agreed to accept the former detainees as part of US plans to close the controversial camp that houses alleged “enemy combatants” from the American-led fight against terrorism. In addition to the two Uighurs, the Swiss will also accept an Uzbek.

The Uighurs from the Chinese province of Xinjiang spent eight years in the prison but were never charged with any offence. US authorities conceded the men had “no contacts of any kind with terrorist organisations”, Amnesty International said.

China had cautioned Switzerland against accepting the men. Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking group of Muslims, have been displaced as the largest ethnic group in their homeland by an influx of Han Chinese, a group that makes up 90 per cent of the Chinese population. Unrest in the region in mid-2009 left hundreds of people dead.

A total of 22 Chinese Uighurs were detained at the camp in Cuba on suspicion of being members of the al-Qaida-supported East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

The brothers did not want to be sent back to China since Chinese authorities consider them separatists and “terrorists”.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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