China Wants Guantanamo Uigher Detainees Returned – Should the US comply?

US authorities have backed themselves into a corner regarding the 17 Uigher detainees now held in Guantanamo. Bit of background: the Uigher’s live in southwestern China, a largely Muslim population distinct from the Han Chinese who form the core ethnic group in that country. They are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group long on the State Department’s terrorist group list.

But these detainees have been judged by review boards not to pose a threat to the US. The detainees say that they were in Afghanistan for training in al Qaeda camps with the intent of taking those skills back to China. They were scheduled for release but are held pending relocation to a country that would agree to accept them.

Why not simply send them back to China? China wants them back. US policy has been that detainees would not be released to countries that might torture or execute them, and that includes the People’s Republic of China. Previously five Uighers were released to Albania but other potential receiving countries have demurred US requests for resettlement due to Chinese pressure.

Meanwhile Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina in December 2008 ordered in favor of a petition raised by the 17 Uigher detainees that they be released into the US. Specific communities in Northern Virginia and Tallahassee, Florida were named. The government filed an appeal to this decision that is pending.

Two critical points emerge: Shall Guantanamo detainees be released into US soil? Judge Urbina’s ruling, if upheld, paves the way for more of these men to be freed here in America. That many are committed terrorists against whom sufficient evidence is not available to make a case under strict US judiciary standards is indisputable. The clear and present danger this presents to US citizens and communities is ignored in what many consider frivolous court decisions that focus on the letter of the law and ignore situational realities.

Second, is US policy correct? The US government regularly criticizes other countries that refuse to extradite criminals or suspects because of capital punishment issues. One must question the hypocrisy intrinsic in a policy that prohibits release of Guantanamo detainees for similar reasons to other countries.

I address these and other serious issues involved in the simplistic “Close Gitmo” ruling that we may soon face in my book, Inside Gitmo. All citizens must become informed on these critical, potentially dangerous, issues in order to make the will of the people known to Washington policy-makers.

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One Response to “China Wants Guantanamo Uigher Detainees Returned – Should the US comply?”

  1. sysoptions Says:

    Only if Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina is willing for them to live next door to him.

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