Weekly Standard

From the September 5 / September 12, 2005 issue: Our 10th anniversary and the Rolling Stones.

Uighurs Without a Country

by The Scrapbook

09/05/2005, Volume 010, Issue 47

Efforts on behalf of two Uighur men detained at Guantanamo, whose plight Ellen Bork recounted in these pages two issues ago, continued last week in federal district court in Washington. Lawyers for Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu Al-Hakim continued to try to get the men released into this country. The men have been granted better conditions on the base, but despite a determination that they pose no threat to U.S. or coalition forces, are still being held. The Bush administration refuses to allow the men to settle here but rightly will not return them to China, where they would be persecuted or killed. And no other countries where they would be safe have come forward to accept them.

As if on cue, also last week, Wang Lequan, the Communist party chief of Xinjiang, the Chinese region Uighurs know as East Turkestan, accused Rebiya Kadeer of engineering a terrorist plot. Mrs. Kadeer is a leading Uighur dissident and former political prisoner, released through the efforts of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Chinese authorities have recently raided Kadeer's business and harassed her family and associates.

Fighting the war on terrorism depends on drawing distinctions. The Bush administration has repeatedly admonished China not to use the war on terrorism as a pretext for cracking down even harder on its estimated nine million Uighurs. The president might want to reiterate that position to Hu Jintao when he visits September 7. But the best way to send a message would be to settle Qassim, Al-Hakim, and the other Uighurs at Guantanamo here among the Uighur-American community, which has expressed a willingness to take care of them.