Two men detained by US resettle in Ireland


TWO UZBEKS who spent seven years in detention at Guantánamo Bay arrived in Ireland for resettlement at the weekend.

The men have not been officially identified, but The Irish Times has learned one is Oybek Jabbarov (31) and the other is Shakhrukh Hamiduva, who is in his mid-20s.

US authorities had cleared the men for release some time ago, saying they were no longer considered to pose a security threat. The two were among dozens of detainees cleared for release but who could not return to their countries of origin due to the risk of persecution and ill treatment.

Mr Jabbarov, who has been the focus of a campaign by Amnesty International’s Irish section, says he and his pregnant wife were living as refugees in Afghanistan in October 2001 when he accepted a lift with Northern Alliance fighters who were battling the Taliban. He claims he was handed over to US troops in exchange for a bounty. His family remains in a refugee camp in the region.

Mr Hamiduva says he came to Afghanistan via Tajikistan after fleeing Uzbekistan when the government there killed one of his uncles and jailed his father and other male relatives. He says he tried to cross the border from Afghanistan after the US began bombing the country in 2001, but was captured and sold to US forces. The men arrived on a US military aircraft at Baldonnel on Saturday evening. They were met by officials from the integration unit of the Department of Justice and transferred to a resettlement centre in the west of the country.

Both men will be given leave to remain, a legal status that allows them to work in Ireland and travel within the EU.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has requested that their privacy be respected. “The resettlement of the two individuals is a humanitarian gesture. They should be allowed time and space to rebuild their lives,” he said. “Ireland is a welcoming country and we are pleased to play our part with President Obama in assisting in the closing of this centre.”

Welcoming the development, Amnesty International said it hoped other countries would follow suit. “Today the Irish Government has brought us one step closer to shutting down Guantánamo Bay,” said Amnesty’s Ireland programmes director Noeleen Hartigan.

“Amnesty International strongly welcomes the announcement that two former detainees will be allowed to stay in Ireland and we hope that other countries, particularly in the EU, will follow our Government’s courageous example,” she added. “We would like to commend the political leadership shown in making this possible by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.”