The New York Times reports on the five Uighur men who are currently living in a government refugee camp in Albania after being released from Guantanamo Bay detention center when the U.S. government found they “pose no threat”:
The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.
The men have been told that they will need to get work to move out of the center, they said, but that they must learn the Albanian language to get work permits. For now, they subsist on free meals heavy with macaroni and rice, and monthly stipends of about $67, which they spend mostly on brief telephone calls to their families. But some of the men have already lost hope of ever seeing their wives and children again.
…Many American officials privately describe the Uighurs’ plight as one of the more troubling episodes of the Bush administration’s detention program. The case also provides a view of the remarkable difficulties Washington has encountered in trying to winnow the detainee population at Guant√°namo in response to domestic and international criticism.
The refugees in Tirana seem to have little sense of how to influence the global chess game in which they have become involved. They spend most of their days behind the refugee center’s high, cinderblock walls, reading the Koran, studying Albanian and waiting for a turn on the center’s lone desktop computer. They avoid the gravelly soccer field because it reminds them of one they looked out on at Guant√°namo. [Full text]