Australia: No to US Request to Resettle Guantanamo Uighers Down Under

Australia’s Rudd government has turned down two official requests from US officials to resettle 17 Chinese Uigher detainees in Oz. Apparently bowing to Beijing pressure (though a Rudd spokesperson denied this), Australia has selected the safe choice, turning down the Uighers, rather than risk angering its northern neighbor.

“Any suggestion that the Government’s decision was taken in response to pressure from any other country is wrong,” the spokeswoman was quoted in the Australian.

Even cursory digging, however, revealed several strong diplomatic demarches from the People’s Republic on the issue. China has remained adamant on the issue of repatriation of the Uighers.

“We have said on many occasions that the 17 terrorist suspects detained at the US military base of Guantanamo are members of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council,” a spokesman is quoted as saying.

“The Chinese Government requires these terrorist suspects be repatriated to China. We firmly oppose any countries receiving these people.”

Readers of this space will note that these are the same 17 Uigher detainees that Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered released into Washington, DC and Tallahassee, FL in early December 2008. That decision is still under appeal by the US government.

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