China insists on 17 Uighurs if Guantanamo shuts

Many Muslim Uighurs, who are from East Turkistan, seek greater autonomy for the region and some want independence.

China insists on 17 Uighurs if Guantanamo shuts

China said on Tuesday that it wants 17 Muslim Uighurs returned if the U.S. Guantanamo prison is closed by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Obama has pledged to close the prison at the U.S. naval station in southeastern Cuba which has come to symbolise "torture".

Although the U.S. military no longer considers the 17 Uighurs "enemy combatants", they have remained at Guantanamo because the United States has been unable to find a country willing to take them.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said "for these terror suspects, the Chinese government has always requested they be sent back to China and firmly opposes any country accepting them," in a news briefing.

In 2006, the United States allowed five Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo to go to Albania. The U.S. government has said it cannot return the Uighurs to China because they would face persecution there.

Many Muslim Uighurs, who are from East Turkistan, seek greater autonomy for the region and some want independence. Beijing has waged a relentless campaign against Uighurs.

The Uighurs had been living in a camp in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led bombing attacks that began in October 2001. They fled into the mountains and were detained by Pakistani authorities, who handed them over to the United States.

Historical records show that the Uyghurs have a history of more than 4000 years. Throughout the history the Uyghurs developed a unique culture and civilization and made remarkable contribution to the civilization of the world.

East Turkistan was occupied by the communist China in 1949 and its name was changed in 1955. The communist China has been excersizing a colonial rule over the East Turkistan since then.

Agencies

Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2008, 15:59
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