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Canadian churches take up cause of five Guantánamo detainees

The churches have applied to help the men – who cannot be safely returned home – resettle as refugees in Canada.

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Anwar Hassan, in limbo after seven years of imprisonment at Guantánamo, has a glimmer of hope. A group of churches in Toronto has applied to the Canadian government to sponsor him as a refugee.

One of 17 Chinese Muslims who a military tribunal determined in 2004 were not enemy combatants, Mr. Hassan is still in the prison camp because he could be persecuted if sent back to China, and no other country has stepped forward to accept him. A US appeals court last week overturned a decision that would have released him and his countrymen of the ethnic Uighur minority into the US.

With President Obama deciding to close Guantánamo within a year, Canadian churches are joining a growing international campaign to resolve the cases of 60 men – of a total 240 at the prison – who cannot be returned to their homelands safely.

As members of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), various Christian denominations have taken up five cases, including those of three Uighurs, an Algerian, and a Kurd from Syria. The Catholic Diocese of Montreal is sponsoring two of the Uighurs, who remain nameless for fear of repercussions against their families in China.


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