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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, February 06, 2004

Guantanamo Breakdown: "Uygur Terrorism" in Perspective

The Record

In China's crackdown on the freedoms and rights of the Uygur people of Xinjiang it has used as it's major excuse to the world that it is doing so in the cause of the "War on Terrorism". The PRC have stated ad nauseum (and sometimes with great contradictions) that the Uygur harbour large and well organised terrorist organisations which threaten the peace not only of China but internationally as well.

The news report above finally gives some numbers and nationalities to the 650 odd detainees in Guantanamo Bay. It claims that there are twelve identified Uygurs among the 650 detainees in Guantanamo. This represents less than 2% of the total. (By way of comparison Britain has nine and Australia and Canada have two apiece).

Finally, these figures give some credence to a point I have made many times, and that is, if there was such a strong and organised international Uygur terrorist movement active in China and abroad during the Taliban period, why were so few caught in Afghanistan?

Surely, given Xinjiang's proximity to Afghanistan, given the Muslim affinity and given what some would say were very comprehensible (if not justifiable) reasons for "Uygur terrorists" to align themselves with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, one would expect a sizeable presence of Uygur "terrorists" among the 650 captured.

There are no "internationally/UN recognised" British terrorist organisations but they managed to have nine caught (and Britain is just a little farther away than Xinjiang). Another example is Jordan an ally of the US that has THIRTY representatives!

The Chinese have claimed on numerous occasions that there were one thousand Uygurs trained by the Taliban and Al qaeda in Afghanistan. They further claim that there were close connections between Bin Laden and the East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIM) the "organisation" listed by the US and UN as an international terrorist organisation at the insistence of China.

I keep getting back to the thought that if I were the leader of a well organised, effective and growing terrorist organisation, and, I was within walking distance of people and groups that could train, equip and fund my operatives, then I would have sent them to Afghanistan and in significant numbers.

Uygur leaders and commentators in diaspora have long attempted to refute the PRC's claim as to the existence of an extensive Uygur terrorist apparatus. It is interesting to note that the number caught pretty much reflects their previous assessments of there being no more than fifty to eighty Uygur involved with the Taliban forces in Afghanistan

I am sure that someone is going to say that the Uygurs were probably able to slip back into Xinjiang or were able to easily blend in with the local populace and thus avoid detection, and, yes, this I would have to agree is a possibility. But so could a lot of the others have done the same, the Saudis for example. No, I think that it is reasonable to assume that relative numbers caught or escaped will have been pretty much the same for any Arab/Turkic looking people.

Where does this leave the PRC and their claims, and, the "Free Nations" that have supported them by turning a blind eye to their policies and actions?

Well, I think that the mask of the "War on Terrorism" used to hide PRC's continued violations of the Uygur's human rights has well and truly slipped to fully reveal the face of outright duplicity. In looking into that face the "free world" must now finally be able to see see that it has been well and truly conned.