over Uighur transfer
El Jazeera 03 25 2010
The men were among 17 Uighurs held at the Guantanamo
prison camp in Cuba
The transfer of two ethnic Uighurs from the US detention
centre in Guantanamo Bay to Switzerland has triggered an
angry reaction from China.
The two men, who are brothers, were recently resettled
in Switzerland after spending eight years in the
Guantanamo camp, the US justice department announced on
Beijing has demanded that all Uighurs held at Guantanamo
be returned to China, saying they are suspected
"We resolutely oppose the United States sheltering the
suspects in a third country, and oppose any country
taking them in in any way," Qin Gang, spokesman for the
Chinese foreign ministry, told reporters in Beijing on
"We have sent our strong representations to the related
countries," he said.
The two men were among a total of 17 Uighurs captured by
US forces in Afghanistan in the invasion that followed
the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and
The men said they were sheltering from repression by
Chinese authorities in their home region of Xinjiang and
the US government has since acknowledged that none of
the Uighurs pose a security threat.
But officials say they cannot return the men to China
because they may face persecution or even possibly
execution by Chinese authorities.
As a result they have been stuck in legal limbo while US
authorities try to find third countries willing to take
the men in.
Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim people native to
China's far western region of Xinjiang, many of whom
complain of repression at the hands of Chinese
Last year Xinjiang's regional capital, Urumqi, was
rocked by ethnic clashes between Uighurs and China's
majority Han Chinese, in which at least 200 people died.
The recent transfer of the two brothers to Switzerland
means there are now five Uighurs left at the Guantanamo
Four others were resettled in Bermuda while Albania took
five, and six went to the Pacific island of Palau, which
has also offered to take the remaining five.