View Full Version : China asks U.S. to repatriate Chinese Guantanamo prisoners

20-04-06, 16:52
BEIJING (AP) _ The United States should return Uighur prisoners from western China who are being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison as part of an international fight against terrorism, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The U.S. government on Wednesday released the most extensive list yet of the hundreds of detainees who have been held at the prison. They include Uighurs from the Xinjiang region who Beijing has said are part of a violent Muslim separatist movement fighting for an independent state of ``East Turkestan.''
``We hope the American side would repatriate the terrorists of the Chinese citizens,'' ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing. ``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 U.S.''

The list released Wednesday includes 22 Chinese nationals. The biggest Muslim ethnic group in China are Uighurs but it wasn't immediately clear if all the detainees were from that group.

An undisclosed number of the Uighurs are among nine prisoners who have been classified ``no longer enemy combatants'' after combatant status hearings. They are being held in a part of the detention center with extra privileges known as Camp Iguana, a military spokesman said.

U.S. officials say they cannot send the Uighur prisoners back to China because they likely will be tortured or killed.

The Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims with a language and culture distinct from the majority Chinese.

In 2002, Washington listed the Xinjiang-based East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terror group _ a classification that some believed was a concession to China in exchange for support of the American-led anti-terrorist campaign.

Diplomats and foreign experts say most violence in Xinjiang blamed on separatists is not politically motivated and appears to stem from personal disputes.
Critics accuse Beijing of using claims of terrorism as an excuse to crack down on peaceful pro-independence sentiment and expressions of Uighur identity.