Swiss urged to accept Guantánamo inmates

Human rights activists have urged the Swiss government to give shelter on humanitarian grounds to two ethnic Uighurs held in the United States’ military prison of Guantánamo.

This content was published on January 21, 2010 minutes

“The two brothers are the unluckiest of the unlucky,” said Elizabeth Gilson, an American lawyer who represents them.

She said even the US government admitted that the members of the Muslim community in northwestern China were not terrorists but refugees.

“There is no evidence to believe that they are dangerous,” Gilson told journalists on Thursday. She is visiting Switzerland for talks with government officials.

The two brothers are part of a group of more than 20 Uighurs, arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan, suspected of links to militant Muslim organisations following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.

“Every day in Guantánamo is a day too many for innocent people,” added Anne Seydoux, a senator for canton Jura, which has offered to grant the two brothers asylum.

She called on the Swiss authorities not to give in to pressure from Beijing, which argues Uighurs are undermining Chinese rule in their province.

Switzerland shares a responsibility with the international community to help the US administration close Guantánamo prison and grant refuge to innocent Uighurs, said Lukas Labhardt of the Swiss branch of human rights organisation Amnesty International.

The Swiss government has scheduled talks with representatives of the Jura cantonal authorities and a visiting Chinese delegation next week before taking a decision.

In December an Uzbek national held in Guantánamo was granted asylum in Switzerland.

Urs Geiser,

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