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Guantanamo and the Uighurs – The Tale of China’s Other Minority – Element I

Guantanamo and the Uighurs – The Tale of China’s Other Minority – Element I

Officially, the People’s Republic of China has 55 unique ethnic minority teams, which total to about 100 million in amount or 8.5 % of the country’s population.  Most of these minorities are living on the margins of China-proper, and do not have larger troubles with the national govt than the Han vast majority who are living in identical conditions.  Some teams, these kinds of as the ethnic Koreans (Chaoxian) and Manchu (ManZu), are really integrated into the Chinese mainstream.  Nevertheless, the ideal recognised Chinese minority internationally, particularly in the West, are the Tibetans (Xizang).  They are widely understood to be an oppressed culturally distinct minority who would like unbiased or, at the extremely minimum, higher autonomy from Beijing.

This degree of global recognition is astonishing looking at, the Tibet Autonomous Location (Xizang Zizhiqu) is roughly 12% of China’s whole land place, but Tibetans make up significantly less than 50 percent of one particular % of China’s inhabitants.  This will make them only the ninth most significant minority group.  The Tibetan Concern is effectively identified, primarily because of to a exceptional world marketing marketing campaign, which incorporates the venerable Dalai Lama and a host of celebrity Western activists, these kinds of as Richard Gere and Sting.  Even so, the Uighurs (also Uyghurs, Weiwuer) are a more many minority who have struggled just as very long from the Han Chinese, whose homeland also can make up a much larger territory, have never ever appreciated the same worldwide regard.  Perhaps, Turkic Muslims are not as attractive to the hearts and minds of the West as monks in flowing robes, irrespective of the latter’s harsh feudalistic background.  Moreover cultural bias, the Uighurs have very likely failed at internet marketing, since contrary to the Tibetans, they have no central leadership that is universally acknowledged by all the disparate factions.

Out of the 9 to 10 million Uighurs worldwide, it is debatable that 22 of them have brought far more media attention to the plight of their 8 million brothers in China than any advocacy marketing campaign has in at least a ten years.  These 22 guys had been not activists searching for a system they were just regrettable enough to get swept up in the American War on Terror.  The Guantanamo Uighurs were being captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and originally labeled “enemy combatants” by the Bush Administration, but ended up latter downgraded to the far more ambiguous, “non-enemy combatant”.   By the slide of 2008, all the remaining Uighur detainees had been cleared of improper performing by the U.S. Justice Section, but immediately after virtually 7 a long time, a lot of nevertheless remained imprisoned in Guantanamo.

The Justice Department observed that these adult men experienced no intentions to commit hostile acts against the United States and its allies.  In truth, it was identified that most of them ended up political and economic refugees who left China for a greater lifestyle, and were being captured by bounty-hunters for earnings.  Many detainees found their way to Guantanamo by this route.  Nevertheless, some of the Uighurs have been intending to engage in “terrorist” activities, but against the Chinese federal government, not the United States.  When imprisoned some confessed to coaching at an ETIM (Japanese Turkistan Islamic Movement) affiliated team in Tora Bora.  The ETIM is regarded by the United States and United Nations as a terrorist organization that seeks to flip the Uighur homeland, Xinjiang Provence (regarded to Uighurs as East Turkestan) into an Islamic republic.

The Bush Administration experienced some noticeable qualms about releasing admitted terrorist trainees, even if they were not anti-American.  The other problem is, if they had been to be freed, where would they go?  The Justice Division resolved that they really should not be permitted to enter the U.S. since they “sought to wage terror” on China, which place the Uighurs right back into legal limbo.

In 2006, the Bush Administration introduced 5 Uighurs to Albania, following other nations refused to consider them.  Staying suspected terrorists was not the only difficulty the Uighurs had in locating a new residence.  As a courtesy to China, the U.S. govt did make it possible for Chinese interrogators to question the Uighurs at Guantanamo, and China also requested for their repatriation.  The Bush Administration refused.  Based on past examples of Uighur terror suspects being returned to China from many Central Asian nations, the Guantanamo Uighurs would certainly be imprisoned and tortured, perhaps even executed.  Incensed, China utilized political and economic pressure to dissuade nations from accepting the detainees.  In the scenario of Albania, it seems China was somewhat thriving, at least in discouraging them from using in additional Guantanamo Uighurs.

The Obama administration inherited this “Uighur Concern”, but not like the previous administration, President Obama, signed an govt get to near the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities by 2010.  The Uighurs have been just a tiny part of the 245 prisoners that needed to be relocated.  Letting them stew in indefinite confinement was not an choice.

Whilst there was chat of resettling the Uighurs in the Washington D.C. space, due to the existing Uighur community there, these tips have been rebuffed on Cash Hill.  Even with getting unlawfully incarcerated, and owning been judged not to be a danger to the U.S., bipartisan Congressional Islamophobia and appeasement to a mostly uniformed apprehensive political base led them to resist and politicize any suggestion that Guantanamo detainees really should be authorized to immigrate to the U.S. mainland.  In the meantime, harmless adult men ongoing to sit in jail.

It does appear that the Bush Administration did come to feel some authentic sympathy for the Uighur trigger.  In 2007 and again in 2008, President Bush achieved with the closest individual the Uighurs have to a Dalai Lama, Nobel Nominee Rebiya Kadeer, a previous Uighur businesswoman turned activist.  She served six decades in a Chinese jail for “leaking state strategies” her young children are at present in jail on identical expenses.  It is mysterious if any of this influenced White Property policy toward the Uighurs nonetheless held captive.

It does appears that both equally the Bush and Obama administrations produced prodigious attempts when it came to Uighur resettlement,  offering financial and diplomatic “concessions” to all the nations that eventually took the remaining Uighurs, on top rated of spending all the standard transportation and housing expenses.  This was no compact ft, mainly because over 100 countries still refused to acquire them.  In the close, 4 went to Bermuda and 13 are scheduled to go to Palau.  In the scenario of Bermuda, the Uighurs will ultimately be eligible to use for citizenship.  Palau is aberrant, remaining just one of the handful of nations that even now figure out the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the reputable govt of China.  Due to the fact they have no formal relations with China they have no favor to acquire or shed.

So considerably, there have been no stories that any of the men have taken up terrorist functions or been associated in any sort of legal habits.  There have been problems although.  The resettlement in Bermuda did not appear without controversy.  Bermuda is nevertheless a British overseas territory, making the United Kingdom dependable for its security.   London protested the settlement agreement, owing to the diplomatic faux pas of not consulting them beforehand.  Also, there are conflicting stories that the remaining 13 Uighurs in Guantanamo are reportedly unhappy to go to Palau thanks to its distant area and the deficiency of a Muslim or Uighur community on the islands.  For China’s portion, their International Ministry declared the Uighurs terror suspects and demanded they be returned to China right away, then accused the U.S. of becoming hypocritical for allowing for this kind of males to go absolutely free.

So why is China so concerned about a handful of Turkic Muslims that it would be keen to use these kinds of political funds?  Granted, the Uighur detainees evidently designed the U.S. Congress tremble in fear, with the only evidence of their awe inspiring ferocity supplied by the Previous Speaker of the U.S. Household of Associates, Newt Gingrich, who mentioned that just one of them had kicked more than a tv in Guantanamo. Reportedly, the prisoner did not recognize the scantly clad females getting demonstrated to them by interrogators (Lee 2009).  1 would believe such a robust display screen of “household values” would be welcomed in the Republican Social gathering, guess not.

As the late previous U.S. President Ronald Reagan as soon as claimed in reference to the Nicaraguan Contras, “Just one man’s independence fighter is yet another man’s terrorist”.  Just after 9-11, China was a single of the initially nations to join The united states in denouncing “terrorism”, particularly radical Islamic terror nonetheless, China’s main problem was successionist movements emanating from Xinjiang (and Tibet), as properly as Uighur splinter cells in Central and South Asia.

There are an believed 8.3 million Uighurs dwelling in Xinjiang, and one more one particular million are believed to reside all over Central Asia.  China sights the Uighurs in Central Asia as a potential fifth column that could destabilize Xinjiang, make a cascade influence, not just in other ethnic minority spots, these kinds of as Tibet, but also in the poorer inside Han the vast majority provinces.  This dread strikes at the coronary heart of Chinese inside safety problems, which emphasis on the “3 Evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism.

The following installment of this sequence will check out the history of Xinjiang and how the Uighurs and the Chinese government came to be at odds.  Even more, Beijing’s reaction will be assessed.   There will also be attention paid to how this conflict is affecting China’s Central Asia neighbors and function the United States should really engage in, if any.


Lee, Peter. 2009. “Uyghurs bought out in the US” Asia Occasions On the internet.