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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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Long Arm Of China Reaches Into Guantanamo

Allegations of Chinese Officials Mistreating Guantanamo Uygurs

Amnesty International Logo According to a Washington Post report Amnesty International has claimed that Chinese officials were allowed access to interrogate Uygur detainees in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

Amnesty spokesperson Alistair Hodgett is reported to have said that the human rights group's claim was based on several unidentified but "credible" sources however he declined to reveal them. Amnesty further claim that the Chinese officials took part in unspecified mistreatment of the Uygurs during the interview/interrogation process. The U.S military declined to comment when approached by the Post though it is common knowledge that foreign officials have been allowed access to their nationals in Guantanamo.

The Uygur are a Muslim Turkic people residing primarily in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's northwest. China has claimed repeatedly since "9/11" that hundreds of Uygurs were trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Uygur "terrorist" organisations have strong links with both the Taliban and al Qaida. They have however been unable to provide any tangible proof to support these allegations. Many Uygurs have been imprisoned and executed as a result of dissent against Chinese rule and a desire for an independent homeland.

The Washington Post item mentions the number of Uygurs held in Guantanamo as a result of the United States intervention in Afghanistan as 22 however previous reports have put this number at only 12. There has also been no positive identification of the nationalities of the Uygurs detained. The Uygur are spread throughout Central Asia and a sizeable population of Uygur have lived in Afghanistan for a considerable period of time and it is not unlikely that some of the Uygurs are not actually Chinese citizens.

U.S. Secretary of State spokesperson Boucher recently was quoted as saying the Uygurs held in Guantanamo were soon to be released as they posed no ongoing threat or are required to face criminal charges. Several Humanitarian organisations including Amnesty International have warned against those Uygurs holding Chinese nationality being returned to China for fear of their imprisonment or even execution. Boucher also stated at the time that the US was in negotiation with several unidentified countries who may be willing to provide safe haven for the Uygurs on their release.

Whilst the right of foreign diplomatic personnel to have access to their nationals is not at issue, to have those personnel involved in interrogation and mistreatment of those nationals as alleged here is abominable. The US and China should be called on to make an immediate statement in response to these very serious allegations.

Link: Additional Information Read Rating:
Group Says Chinese Saw Detainees (washingtonpost.com)