FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Encounter in Albania

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

They were greeted somewhat differently. Fortunately the first to arrive did not witness the treatment accorded the second to arrive and so their disparate treatment did not add to their depression. Not that the first arrivals wouldn’t have enjoyed witnessing the arrival of the second. It would have gotten them out of the refugee camp. And since it was he who got them where they are, it would have been nice if the occasion of his arrival had given them a furlough, however short, from their otherwise desperate circumstances.

The different greetings were in Albania. When Prime Minister Sali Berisha greeted Mr. Bush he said Mr. Bush was “the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had.” (That actually says more about the kind of people who visit Albania than it does about Mr. Bush.) Mr. Berisha did not bother to greet the Uighurs who had arrived some months earlier.

The Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority from the Xinjiang province in China. A few years before arriving in Albania they had been in Afghanistan for reasons that had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. Following the events of 9/11 they decided to go to Pakistan where after a time they were invited to dinner by some villagers. At the conclusion of the dinner they were taken to a mosque where instead of praying with their newfound friends they were turned over to American forces in exchange for money and taken to Guantanamo.

While incarcerated there the panels that were set up to determine if they were “enemy combatants” concluded they were not and could leave if they could find somewhere to go. No one, it turned out, wanted them. They could not be sent to China since United States law says in essence that a person cannot be repatriated if the country to which the person is going will subject the person to the kind of treatment the person received at Guantanamo. The reason they would be subject to the Guantanamo-like treatment in China is that the Chinese consider them terrorists. Like Messrs Bush and Cheney, the Chinese have discovered that one way to avoid respecting a person’s human rights is to call that person a terrorist or enemy combatant. That designation causes all human rights otherwise accorded that individual to disappear into thin air.

Although admitting the Uighurs to the United States would have seemed like the obvious thing to do since they were only 90 miles away, that was legally impossible because of The Immigration and Nationality Act. The Guantanamo panel had determined that the men were neither terrorists nor enemy combatants but that didn’t matter. If someone who taught the would-be resident how to fire a weapon is, or might be, one of those people, that person is forever tainted in the eyes of Homeland Security and therefore ineligible to ever enter the United States. Only one country was willing to accept the 5 Uighurs. That country was Albania and that is the country to which the men were sent.

Placed aboard a plane, they were manacled and chained to the floor to prevent them from doing anything untoward on the flight to Albania. Upon their arrival Mr. Berisha did not greet them. Instead of red carpet treatment they were taken to a refugee center where they now live receiving free room and board and 40 euros a month. Armed guards attend them. They would like to earn more than 40 Euros a month but they have been told they can only obtain work permits and leave their quarters if they learn to speak Albanian.

According to a report in the New York Times, before Mr. Bush’s arrival the Uighurs were permitted to go to the offices of Sali Berisha to ask him to ask Mr. Bush to find them a new home. Mr. Berisha was unavailable but the men left their request with someone in his office. There is no indication that Mr. Berisha got around to passing the request on to Mr. Bush.

After he had wallowed in the adoration of the Albanian mob (one of the few people left in the world who would so joyously greet him) Mr. Bush left Albania. Before leaving he said something that would have cheered the Uighurs had they heard him. Speaking to Mr. Berisha Mr. Bush said: “You are writing an amazing chapter for history on freedom. It will be amazing to look back on all you’ve done. I congratulate you on it.” The Uighurs would love to be co-authors of the chapter he described. Were that to happen they might get the freedom that Mr. Bush took away from them.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail