Witness Against Torture activists meet former Guantánamo detainees in Bermuda

    Last Friday, three Christian activists involved with Witness Against Torture – two of whom (Luke Hansen S.J. and John Bambrick) are contributors to this site – traveled to Bermuda to visit with four Uyghur men who were wrongly detained at the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for more than seven years.

    The Uyghurs are a persecuted ethnic minority group from western China.  While seventeen Uyghurs have been resettled since a federal judge ordered their release in 2008, five have not been able to leave Guantánamo. According to the press release:

    The purpose of the delegation to Bermuda is to build relationships with the Uyghurs, seek their counsel concerning further advocacy for both current and former Guantánamo prisoners, and to bring a message of atonement and reconciliation from the American people to the former prisoners. “In the United States, public discourse on Guantánamo is mainly informed by various perspectives from the military, politicians and the U.S. public,” says John Bambrick, a Chicago youth minister. “We have come to Bermuda to seek the perspectives of men who have experienced Guantánamo firsthand.”

    “The Uyghur men in Bermuda, like us, are people of faith,” says Jeremy Kirk, a Ph.D. student in social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. “We are practicing our Christian faith by seeking connection with our Muslim brothers, in whose detention and abuse we have participated as U.S. taxpayers and citizens.”

    On Saturday, the three activists visited the Uyghurs’ apartment, shared a meal and swam in the ocean with the former prisoners, and swapped stories about family and religious faith. The Uyghur men shared some of their experiences of being in Guantánamo and discussed their gratitude for and challenges associated with resettlement. (They are very grateful to the Bermudan Government’s support and hospitality.)

    The group returned to the United States yesterday, and I have yet to hear how the rest of their trip went. They were going to meet with the Uyghurs again on Sunday and were expecting to discuss in greater depth what their detention at Guantánamo was like and the conditions that the Uyghurs who are still there currently face. We will hopefully be able to share a reflection from one of the members of the delegation soon.



    Recent Stories

    • Analysis

    Anti-occupation coalition grows stronger in the face of Israeli military violence

    May 24, 2019

    When diaspora Jews and those living in Israel join with Palestinians, they forge a more powerful and just movement to end the occupation.

    • Column

    Vision is finally on the rise in U.S. politics

    May 21, 2019

    From grassroots movements to presidential hopefuls, the importance of creating visionary plans for change is no longer being ignored.

    • Analysis

    Populist alliances of ‘cowboys and Indians’ are protecting rural lands

    May 17, 2019

    By appealing to the hearts and minds of their white neighbors, Native Americans are carving out common ground and building unity through diversity.