Monday, July 03, 2006

Eight hours later, I'm still angry

It's been about eight hours since I posted my thoughts on Europe's bifurcated reaction to enemy combatants and others held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As the sun sets, my anger continues to rise. The more I think about Europe's hypocrisy (Albania excepted, see below), the angrier I get.

This past Thursday, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the military tribunal procedure put in place by the Bush Administration to handle enemy combatants in the War on Terror. The decision has led put the entire detainment process, especially the Guantanamo Bay prison itself, into question.

My concern here is not the decision, or "Gitmo," per se. Personally, I consider both Gitmo and the tribunals to be necessary (albeit imperfect), but there are many in the democratic world, including the anti-Communist movement, that passionately disagree. As the President himself likes to say, "Good people can disagree on this issue."

That does not extend, however, to the elites of Europe, who castigate America publicly while privately impeding its efforts to help those who have been wrongly captured, or subsequently cleared - in particular Uighur detainees from occupied East Turkestan. While Europe whines about the fate of the prisoners in Guantanamo, they have wholly refused (minus Albania) to accept Uighurs who have been fully cleared by the Pentagon.

I'll admit, I take this personally for several reasons. First of all, I was less than five miles from the Pentagon on 9/11/01. I felt the floor under my feet shake when the Pentagon was hit; my building was evacuated.

More important than that, however, I have come to befriend many in the Uighur-American community. I have worked with them to help form the East Turkestan government-in-exile. I have had the honor of meeting Rebiya Kadeer, the former Communist prisoner who is now president of the Uighur-American Association. I know these people well - the persecution they have suffered at the hands of the Communist regime (which has occupied East Turkestan since 1949 and calls it "Xinjiang Province"), their firm support for America, and their desperate attempt to show this country and the world the tolerant, anti-terrorist Islam that is their faith.

I also know of the nearly two dozen Uighurs who have been captured by America and her allies, and subsequently cleared by the Pentagon. For obvious humanitarian reasons, the U.S. refuses to send them back to occupied East Turkestan - and at best, long prison terms. Sadly, Washington is not interested in letting them resettle here in America, for which this quarter has criticized the Administration.

However, the Administration has been trying to find the Uighurs another country to call home; many European nations have been asked to provide sanctuary. Yet Europe, supposedly so concerned about the fate of the Guantanamo detainees, has decided the Uighurs should stay in Guantanamo rather than their homelands (third item).

The hypocrisy behind this is galling. It's easy to criticize America for her actions in the War on Terror; it is much more difficult to step up to the plate when asked. Europe whiffed.

So forgive me if I'm less than respectful the next time a European "leader" complains about the Guantanamo detainees. If they were really that worried, they would have done something about it when given the chance. They could have lit a candle; they chose instead to merely curse the darkness.

I don't want to end on such a sour note, and I need not do so, thanks to Albania. Among all the countries of Europe, it alone has accepted Uighurs onto their territory (fifth, third, third, fifth, and second items). Few in Europe pay much attention to the small, relatively poor nation that to date is the only majority-Muslim country on the continent. More's the pity; for Albania represents the best of humanity, and Europe, and stands head and shoulders above its fellows. Those of us who have adopted the Uighur cause will be forever thankful for her.

No comments: