Uighur inmates prefer Guantanamo to home

The United States must send them back to China

The New York Times reports that the United States is attempting to make alternative accomodation arrangements for Uighur terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay.

United States military officials have concluded that at least half of the Uighurs here are eligible for release, but the prisoners have said they do not want to be returned to China because they fear they will be tortured or killed as terrorists. That has sent United States officials scrambling to find a third country willing to accept the Uighurs. So far, several European countries, including Norway and Switzerland, have declined. European newspapers in other countries have reported that their governments have refused as well.

Beijing, for its part, has asserted that the Uighurs are terrorists and that the United States should return them to China to demonstrate its commitment to fighting terrorism around the world. A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry warned last week that relations between Washington and Beijing could be harmed if the United States sent any Uighurs to a third country.

One of the Uighurs held at Guantanamo went before a special tribunal on Friday to argue that he was not an unlawful enemy combatant and should not have been arrested in Afghanistan and kept in the detention camp here. The man, a 33-year-old with an artificial left leg, told the military panel that he was not an enemy of the United States and that he hoped America would one day help the Uighur independence movement.[NYT]

The United States must repatriate the Uighur terrorists to China. International concerns over how China treats its minorities, especially Uighur civilians may be justified, but they are not exactly relevant in this case. The Uighurs were in Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and carry the terror tactics and ideology back home to Xinjiang. Now that the United States has had an opportunity to interrogate them, it must not deny the same to China.

Besides, the war against al-Qaeda is not over yet — the United States would still require China’s strategic and tactical cooperation to capture Osama bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda all-stars team. China would be less likely to cooperate if the United States were to signal that some terrorists could in fact be freedom-fighters, no matter what President Bush once declared.

10 thoughts on “Uighur inmates prefer Guantanamo to home”

  1. China’s commitment to the US’s war on terror remains suspect. So it does not seem likely that China would do more than huff and puff to try and nab Osama. In fact China seems to enjoy getting the US bogged down in fighting terrorists across the world, while they concentrate on the higher pursuits of economic developement and space exploration.

  2. The US cannot afford not to send the uighur back to China.
    The US cannot merely fight against what it perceives as an immediate threat and ignore other countries security concern.
    If the US does so its claim of fighting all forms of terrorism will be eroded.
    Already there were talks that US got intelligence from Indian intelligence agencies but did not reciprocate in kind by providing info that Indians required.
    These incidents will only isolate the US. You either fight all terrorism or you lose.

  3. Absolutely incredible. Incredible that you could come to such a conclusion. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the Uygur question and I would respectfully sugest as a fellow blogger that you do a little more research.

  4. Stephen,

    By no means am I condoning how China treats its Uygur minorities. Indeed, countries like the United States must take the matter up with the good folk in Beijing.

    But this specific case involves those among the Uygur community who made their way to Afghanistan to join the international terrorist brigade. The Taliban and its friends made no distinction between attacking military or civilian targets. Those Uygurs would hardly have returned to Xinjiang to take up farming, teaching or such peaceable occupation.

    Tibetans are in a similar situation too. But the Dalai Lama’s acolytes did’nt turn up in the Taliban’s ranks…and if they ever did, they too would be nothing but terrorists.

    Unless you are willing to accept that there is a moral equivalence between terrorists and their victims, you will notice that there are two questions here. The first is how a authoritarian state treats its citizens, specifically ethnic-religious minorities; the second is whether terrorism is ever justified. The answers are not the same.

  5. My dear friend.

    The Uygur left china not to be impriosnond and to die.

    I have followd the case of the Guantanamo Uygurs closely I have never read whether they were captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan. For that matter why they were incarcerated.

    The American Governemnet has made a decision that these people are not guilty of terrorism for whatever reasons but one must assume they know best.

  6. But to advocate the return of these people to China to, I can assure you, their death is incredibly inhuman.

    I am against terorism, I am against any form of pain or death to our fellow humans. Please do not become what we fight, vindictive, single and closed minded.

  7. Stephen,

    The number of words is not restricted. You can continue to type and the text scrolls up automatically.

    If you do follow the posts on the Acorn, you will notice that I have consistently articulated exactly what you say – not all Muslims are terrorists. India has the world’s second largest Muslim population, and a overwhelming majority of them are not even fundamentalists, let alone terrorists. The brand of Islam traditionally practised in South East Asia is also tolerant & syncretic. I suppose the same holds for Central Asian Islamic societies too — Uighurs included.

    But that’s not the point. I’m not generalising, but talking about individuals and small groups who indulge in terrorism. Just like how the actions of a few should not be generalised to colour an entire religion or community, the virtues of an entire community cannot be used to absolve individuals and groups of their crimes.

    I’d say the same about terrorists of American, Australian, French, British, Russian or any other nationalities who were in league with Taliban and al-Qaeda.

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