Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd

Patricio Henriquez

The incredible odyssey of a group of China’s Uyghur minority, detained in Guantánamo as terrorists. Exposing the cold logic of post–September 11 geopolitical gamemasters, this documentary is part human drama, part political thriller, and both thought-provoking and moving.

In the Chinese ‘autonomous region’ of Xinjiang live the Uyghur, an Islamic people of Turkish origin. Since the area was incorporated into China, they have become a persecuted minority. In October 2001, a group of Uyghurs, who had tried to find sanctuary in Afghanistan, faced a new and unexpected misfortune.

The US was attacking the country at the time in efforts to find Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda fighters, and the local population was being encouraged to report terrorists in exchange for cash. More than twenty Uyghur men were thus delivered into the hands of the Americans. The refugees were transported to Guantánamo Bay, where they were imprisoned for many years, initially without any judicial process, and later proven innocent. For many years their freedom was obstructed by all manner of international political issues and interests. How could this have happened? Three of them speak openly about the years of hell they went through as refugees, and about their frustrating and tragic time being locked up.


Patricio Henriquez
Patricio Henriquez, Colette Loumède
Country of production
98 minutes
Spoken language
English, Uyghur
Production company
Macumba International Inc.
World Sales
National Film Board of Canada