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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Terrorism & Security | csmonitor.com

Uygur Detainees at Guantanono

Terrorism & Security | csmonitor.com

Whilst I am a great supporter of a "War on Terrorism" I am getting increasingly concerned about certain aspects of it's prosecution.

I have argued extensively that China's contribution to the "War" for example is little more than a mask for it's continued suppression of their Muslim minority, particularly the Uygur of Xinjiang. I have also alluded to the feeling that I am getting that the "War" is being used increasingly as a political tool and that the hunting down of Taliban "stragglers" does not constitute an attack against the core of Terrorism.

Having just read the above article I am becoming more frustrated.

It has been a considerable period of time since the inmates of Guantanomo were incarcerated. We know little about them. We do not know if they are high ranking "terrorists" or just "foot soldiers" caught up in the culture of the Taliban. There are now questions being raised as to the process under which they will be tried.

It was of particular concern to me to learn through this article that there are apparently children among the incarcerated who must have been as young as 15 or 16 at the time of their capture. No one will argue that someone so young can be guilty of terrorist acts but surely fairness would require that their age be taken into consideration in all areas of their handling and processing. If they were not terrorists when they went in they will be definite candidates when they come out.

Among the detainees apparently are three Uygurs (the Uygurs are a Muslim ethnic minority from Xinjiang a north west border region ) and it was mooted recently that they would be returned to China for trial. It is obvious to many commentators, myself included, that such a move would ensure their execution under a Chinese legal system that treats, even the most relatively minor cases of political dissent, as a capital offence, especially if it is perpetrated by an Uygur.

The detainees, firstly, must, as a group, be treated as POWs and accorded the same rights as provided for under the Geneva Convention. There future must be decided sooner rather than later. If there are suspected terrorists among them they must be identified and brought to a speedy trial. If they are to be repatriated they are done so with due consideration to their possible fates.

To defeat something you must be equal to the challenge and you must be better than that which you battle. In the "War on Terrorism" we have done many things that do not make us better than the people we fight.

We have allowed gross human rights violations in the name of the "War" witness China and Uzbekistan, we have brought undue suffering and stigmatization to a world of Muslims. We have allowed indefinite and cruel incarcerations against all our supposed democratic principlesand supported at least de facto very undemocratic regimes.

Let a real "War on Terror" continue but let us not stoop to the level of those we truly must battle.