Free Uighur Screenplay Tips

Attention scriptwriters! It’s been almost seven months already: why have we yet to see any forthcoming screenplay about the four Uighurs (i.e. western Chinese Muslims) who were released from solitary at Guantánamo after seven years there (they were absolutely innocent of anything even resembling terrorist activities – goes without saying) straight to lovely Bermuda? Just consider this text from Erik Eckholm’s New York Times article:

In newly purchased polo shirts and chinos [har har!], the four husky men, members of a restive ethnic minority from western China, might blend in except for their scruffy beards. Smelling hibiscus flowers, luxuriating in the freedom to drift through scenic streets and harbors, they expressed wonder at their good fortune in landing here after a captivity that included more than a year in solitary confinement.

“I went swimming in the ocean for the first time ever yesterday, and it was the happiest day of my life,” said Salahidin Abdulahat, 32.

C’mon, I mean it practically writes itself! Call the film “The Four Uighurs”; Johnny Depp, in scruffy beard, stars as Abdulahat, who winds up working every day in a wetsuit training dolphins to undertake military missions for the Royal Navy from the nearby naval base. His three buddies eventually pool their earnings from work in private gardens and at popsicle-stands to open up their own seaside camping-ground, which they name Camp Delta. Trouble arrives in the form of a restaurant (originally called “Git Ma,” Chinese for “enemy combatant”) started up in the neighborhood by a pair of Cantonese immigrant families. In the end, though, through various hijinks and comic situations everyone learns to live together again in sun-struck island harmony – in fact, Depp even mentors one dolphin with a surprising aptitude for performing point-to-point coastal Chinese take-out deliveries. Take it from there . . .

Maybe you can’t handle writing about an island situation for some reason? Fine, then consider instead the story of another set of Uighurs from Guantánamo, reported on today in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, whom the Obama administration wants to release into yet another sort of strange, paradise-like environment, namely the alpine hills and valleys of Switzerland. This real-life story, alas, comes with no guaranteed happy ending. As Trouw reports, the Swiss are willing enough to accept the former inmates (two of them this time; completely innocent, of course) to try to get back in the good graces of the Obama administration after some prior trouble involving American demands that the Swiss give up their bank-account secrecy. But the Chinese authorities are objecting here, and have warned the Swiss government against taking them. They say that the Uighurs are legitimate terror-suspects after all, and the only place they should go henceforth is back to China for trial.

This scenario could well end up a tragedy, for you can well imagine the “trial” and generally-unpleasant reception the Chinese have prepared for these men. Unfortunately, the recent record of the Swiss of letting themselves be pushed around is not good: there is still an embarrassing dispute ongoing with Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, involving a public apology to Libya by the Swiss president and two Swiss businessmen still held in Tripoli and about to face trial there on trumped-up charges.

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