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Silk Road to Guantanamo

The Story of Adel Hakimjan. A film shows the plight of ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate Adel Hakimjan, a Chinese Uighur, who was abused, persecuted, traded, and falsely imprisoned. (2009. Running time: 39 minutes)


On taking office, US President-elect Barack Obama is expected to quickly push for the closure of Guantanamo Bay - and the release of 60 detainees. But as the plight of ex-inmate Adel Hakimjan, a Chinese Uighur, shows it will not be an easy solution. He has been abused, persecuted, traded, and falsely imprisoned. Yet Adel Hakimjan is cheery, engaging and confident, talking easily about the past tumultuous decade which has seen him forcibly travel the world. Adel, 34, fled his home and family in north-west China in 1999, having been accused by the Chinese authorities of being part of the East Turkestan Independence Movement, a group fighting for an independent, self-governing homeland. He says he was harassed, tortured and imprisoned by the Chinese. He left Xinjiang province intending to travel to Turkey where he hoped to find work. In late 2001 he found himself in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, where, following the US-led invasion, he says he was sold to American forces by bounty hunters and ended up at a detention facility in Kandahar.

"We were locked up in Kandahar for about six months. We were given two meals a day, one at midday and the other at midnight. We couldn't sleep at night, as we were 22 of us in the same room and many of us were often taken out for nighttime interrogation. When they took one of us out for interrogation, they woke up everyone in the room and ordered us to stand in the corner with the hands held on the heads. We were really exhausted during that six-month custody."

Adel says his interrogations became easier once he convinced the Americans he was not involved in any terrorism or aiding the Taleban. He became hopeful he would be released, but "all of a sudden, we were all taken to Guantanamo".

Extract from the Free but homeless after Guantanamo, BBC News, 7 January 2009

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creative commons logo (CC) BY-NC-ND This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Photograph of Adel Hakimjan (third from left) with friends in Stockholm, January 2009.

Adel Hakimjan (third from left) with friends in Stockholm, January 2009.

Photo: © S L James

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Director: S L James

Producer: Enver Tohti

Interviewee: Adel Hakimjan

Locations Manager: Kaiser Karluk

Music: Abdulla Majnun

Locations (filmed 2001-2009)

  • Xinjiang, China
  • Afghanistan
  • Guantanamo Bay
  • Albania
  • Sweden
  • Filmed: Adel Hakimjan was interviewed in January 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Last updated Jun 09, 2011