Two Yemeni detainees transferred to Ghana after spending 14 years in Guantamo Bay prison in Cuba without charge said on Monday that they want to build a new peaceful life in the West African country and are not seeking revenge.
The US Defence Department announced Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby’s transfer to Ghana last week.
Bin Atef told Ghana's state radio on Monday that they were not looking for revenge despite suffering for 14 years.
"We want to live in Ghana quietly and peacefully and we want to put our life together," Bin Atef said.
17 detainees were scheduled to be released in 2016, as a part of US President Barack Obama’s effort to close the controversial detention centre before leaving his presidential office.
According to US policy Guantanamo detainees thought to pose no threat should generally be returned to their countries of origin, but the two Yemeni men could not be transferred to Yemen because of the unstable political situation in the country.
Transfer of the ex-Guantanamo detainees was strongly opposed by the opposition party and some religious and political groups after the government granted permission for the two to remain in the country for two years. However, the two still expressed their gratitude to the Ghananians who welcomed them.
"We are very happy for the warm reception that Ghana is known for. Ghanaians are very good people. We are very excited to come to Ghana because we know some of the things about Ghana," Bin Atef said.
"I just want the listeners and the people of Ghana to know that we are not a part of any bad group, like al-Qaeda or anything like that. We don’t belong to any part of them. We want to leave very normal lives. Allah bless you and the people of Ghana," he added.
'Yemeni detainees do not pose threat'
The Africa Center for Security and Counter terrorism (ACSC) said on Monday that the ex-Guantanamo detainees do not pose a threat to Ghana.
The statement encouraged Ghanians to provide relief to the two Yemenis.
"It should be remembered that the United States released them because they do not pose any material or potential threat to peace. If they were potentially a terrorism threat, the United States would not release them," the ACSC said.
Last week, the US Embassy in Ghana thanked the country for agreeing to accept two ex-detainees, saying that US was grateful for the government’s humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US effords.
"We appreciate this generous humanitarian action by our partner, the Republic of Ghana," the US Embassy statement said.