Cross your fingers if you?re an Uighur

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Apr 21, 2006 01:54 AM IST

Joseph K. in The Trial could not have found himself in a more terrifyingly ludicrous situation.

Joseph K. in The Trial could not have found himself in a more terrifyingly ludicrous situation. But while the protagonist in Kafka’s novel never gets to know why he was picked up one day by mysterious officials and arrested, Abu Bakker Qassim and A’del al-Hakim at least know why they have been held captive since June 2002: they were mistaken to be enemy combatants on Pakistan. Muslim names, picked up from the Pakistan-Afghan border and mistaken for enemy combatants? Now, how far can the US War Against Terror be from this story? Not far, considering the two hapless Uighurs — ethnically Turkic Muslims mainly from China’s Xinjiang province — are stuck between a rock and a hard place in a spot called Guantanamo Bay.

HT Image
HT Image

Mistaking Uighurs roaming around in Pakistan with ‘suspicious’ names is not half as bad as not letting them go despite there being no charges against them. The bizarre climax is that the US administration can’t let them return to Xinjiang because they are touchingly ‘fearful’ that the two will (also) be persecuted by Chinese authorities — who incidentally like ‘funny sounding’ names even less than the Americans.

So what about letting them stay on in the land of milk and honey? No siree, no can do for security/immigration reasons (read: ‘funny sounding’ names from that part of the world). So any takers for Mr Qassim and Mr al-Hakim, two men waiting in limbo who can neither go back home nor ‘legally’ be held in the happy home-halfway house that is Guantanamo Bay? Surely, some sense of camaraderie and courtesy is forthcoming from their Muslim brethren from any of the many Islamic States? Did someone say the blighted Uighurs had been picked up from Pakistan? Hmm...

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