View Full Version : Pakistan extradites six Chinese militants to Beijing

07-06-09, 02:41

Pakistan extradites six Chinese militants to Beijing
Amir Mir
Saturday 6 June 2009


LAHORE: Groaning under rising pressure from China, the Pakistani authorities have extradited to Beijing ten arrested militants of the pro-independence Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) despite serious apprehensions expressed by the Amnesty International (AI) that they could be at risk of serious human rights violations in china, including unfair trial, torture and execution.

According to well placed interior ministry sources in Islamabad, the ten Chinese militants, who had been arrested from the country’s tribal areas, were extradited to Beijing following the Chinese President Hu Jintao’s request to Islamabad for taking stern steps against the fugitive Chinese militants hiding in Pakistani tribal areas and running terrorist activities in China. While using diplomatic channels to approach President Zardari, the sources said, President Hu had expressed his concerns over the presence of the ETIM in the Pakistani tribal areas, saying they might threaten the security of over 5,000 Chinese nationals working on different development projects in Pakistan.

An interior ministry spokesman in Islamabad confirmed the extradition of the ETIM militants, saying they had actually been arrested after they attacked the Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas. Ten of the over two dozen arrested Chinese were handed over to Beijing after it was established that they belong to the ETIM, which Beijing describes as an armed secessionist group with bases in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the northwest China, and in Pakistan. The extradition of the Chinese militants came about as a result of three agreements made between Pakistan and China to curb militancy and extremism. During interrogations by the Pakistani authorities, most of the ETIM militants had refuted terrorism charges, saying they were members of a Chinese separatist movement founded by Turkish speaking ethnic majority of over eight million people whose traditional homeland lies in Xingjian Uighur Autonomous Region in north-west China.

East Turkistan had maintained a measure of independence until the early 1950s, when Mao’s victorious rebel armies turned to the peripheries and began securing Chinese borders, capturing Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet and East Turkistan. The native Uighurs resisted the Chinese occupation until 1960s, but failed to win support from neighboring Muslim states due to their fractured tribal nature. Since the mid-1980s, however, an active pan-Islamic movement has been trying to cement the opposing groups together against Chinese occupation of their homeland, pressing for an independent East Turkistan state. Yet Beijing, which views Xingjian as an invaluable asset due to its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves, is using all possible methods to quell the separatist movement.

The Chinese authorities had been blaming the Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and shoot outs in the past, causing an atmosphere of insecurity and fear in China. Due to intense Chinese lobbying against the ETIM, it was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States as well as the United Nations in 2002 after repeated lobbying from China. But a subsequent 2003 report by Amnesty International had observed that the evidence that formed the basis for the UN decision remains unclear. The report further said that China continues to make little distinction between the Uighurs involved in peaceful or violent nationalist activities, branding them as ‘separatists’ or ‘terrorists’.

According to diplomatic sources in Islamabad, ten Chinese militants of the ETIM were recently extradited to Beijing despite opposition by Amnesty International. They were extradited despite the March 2009 observation by Tim Parritt, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme that whatever these EMIT militants are accused of, the risks posed to them are extremely grave, if forcibly returned to China. He maintained that under international law, states are obliged not to expel, return or extradite any person to a country where they risk torture or other ill-treatment.

However, the Pakistani authorities insist that all those who had been extradited to Beijing were involved in terrorist activities both in China and in Pakistan and have also developed links with al-Qaeda network in the tribal areas of Pakistan. They added, the fact that the ETIM militants have extended their network of terrorist activities to Pakistan is evident from a threat they had conveyed to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, saying they intend to kidnap Chinese diplomats and consular officers stationed in the Pakistani federal capital with a view to highlight their cause.

The Chinese mission subsequently informed the Pakistani authorities in a letter that that some members of the ETIM have already reached Islamabad and plan to kidnap their staffers from the federal capital. The letter reportedly pointed out that terrorist groups located in Pakistan, including al-Qaeda, had been providing support to ETIM activists for the likely kidnappings. Subsequent investigations had established that the anonymous threat was issued by none other than the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and that the would-be kidnappers had first traveled to Jalalabad in Afghanistan to finalise their plans.