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20-04-06, 10:44
China demands return of Guantanamo detainees
Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:45 PM IST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged the United States on Thursday to return Chinese nationals held at Guantanamo Bay after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear whether two Chinese Muslims held at the detention camp can be freed.

Washington should "repatriate Chinese-nationality terror suspects held at Guantanamo as quickly as possible", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Beijing's renewed call to take back the detainees came after two of them, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu Al-Hakim, failed to persuade the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that a federal court cannot provide them any relief.

The two belong to the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group that populates far western China's Xinjiang region. Some Uighurs have campaigned for an independent homeland, often called East Turkestan.

The United States decided last year that the two men were not "enemy combatants" and is holding them while it seeks a third country -- not China -- to take them.

They were captured in Pakistan and have been detained since June 2002 at Guantanamo, where the United States holds about 490 terrorism suspects, including a handful of Chinese nationals.

Their attorneys urged the Supreme Court to decide whether a federal court has the power to craft a remedy for those imprisoned at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

They took the unusual step of appealing directly to the high court after the ruling by a U.S. district court judge who said he was powerless to free them.

The U.S. government has said it cannot return the Uighurs to China because they would face persecution there.

But Beijing has insisted that Chinese nationals held by the United States as part of the "war on terror" should be returned.

20-04-06, 10:46
China calls on US to return prisoners
Thursday 20 April 2006 12:45 PM GMT

Twenty-two Chinese citizens are being held in Guantanamo Bay

The Chinese foreign ministry has called on the US government to repatriate Uighur prisoners held in its Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The US government said on Wednesday that it is holding 22 Chinese citizens in the detention centre on the Caribbean island of Cuba although it did not say how many were Uighurs.

Beijing believes some of the Uighurs are from the Xinjiang region, where a militant separatist movement is fighting for an independent state of East Turkestan.

"We hope the American side would repatriate the terrorists of the Chinese citizens," said Qin Qang, a foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday.

"Terrorism is the enemy of humankind. East Turkestan is a part of the international terrorist force and casts a serious threat to international societies including China and the US."

Militant campaign

US officials say they cannot send Uighur prisoners back to China because it is likely they will be tortured or killed.

Two of the Chinese Uighurs held in Guantanamo Bay had the appeal against their continued detention turned down by the US Supreme Court on Monday.

The two men, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim, were cleared last year of being "enemy combatants" and a US federal judge had earlier declared their detention in Cuba unlawful.

A newspaper report over the weekend said that Germany was being pressed to take the two men.

A Supreme Court lawyer for the Bush administration, Paul Clement, told justices that there were "substantial ongoing diplomatic efforts to transfer them to an appropriate country".

Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the west of China with a language and culture distinct from the rest of the country.

Many Uighurs have been waging a low-level militant campaign for greater autonomy for the region.

As a result Beijing has waged a relentless campaign against what it calls the violent separatist activities of the Uighurs.


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