Dec 23, 2008

East Turkestan: Germany Accepts, China Rejects

Sample ImageAfter showing willingness to consider taking in ex-Guantanamo prisoners, Germany faces wrath from China, demanding repatriation of all Uyghurs.


Below is an article published by the International Herald Tribune:

[…] Germany is considering taking released inmates from the U.S.-run Guantánamo Bay prison camp who refuse or cannot return to their home countries when it finally closes down, officials said Monday [22 December 2008].

The foreign minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, has asked officials to look into the legal, political and practical aspects of accepting former inmates, a ministry spokesman, Jens Plötner, said Monday [22 December 2008]. Steinmeier then plans to discuss the issue with his European Union counterparts at a meeting in January [2009].

The prison camp, at a U.S. Navy base in Cuba, has attracted widespread international criticism, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has long advocated closing it. President-elect Barack Obama has also made closure a priority.

Plötner said that taking released inmates to Germany would need to be discussed with the new Obama administration, which takes office Jan. 20 [2009].

Steinmeier "has made clear that he does not want to see the plan to close Guantánamo fail due to the need to find somewhere for those prisoners who cannot return to their home countries," Plötner said at a news conference.

Officials did not specify what the status of the former inmates would be if they were accepted in Germany.

According to the United Nations, there are about 250 inmates in Guantánamo, and human rights campaigners have said 40 to 50 of them could face persecution if they were deported to their home countries.

Merkel's spokesman, Thomas Steg, said Germany would not accept prisoners if conditions were attached.

"One thing is clear: The Americans cannot ask for any special terms - no other agreements, swaps or other strings attached," Steg told reporters.

Last week [December 2008], the U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, asked that plans be updated for closing Guantánamo in case Obama requested it soon after taking power.

Obama has provided few details about his plans. He has suggested that some prisoners could be prosecuted in federal courts. Those men could be held in federal or military prisons. But the Obama transition office has not offered details of where the remainder might be held.

Portugal has said it is willing to resettle some detainees and has urged other European countries to help.

"The time has come for the European Union to step forward," Portugal's foreign minister, Luís Amado, said in a letter to other European ministers released Dec. 11 [2008].



Below is an article published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

China wants Guantánamo Uighurs repatriated

The government in Beijing says the 17 ethnic Uighurs being held at the United States Guantánamo Bay prison facility should be repatriated to China. The Chinese statement follows reports that Germany is considering taking prisoners from the facility when it is closed by the incoming United States administration.

The Uighur Islamist fighters could have been released two years ago, but no country was willing to take them. It was said they risked being tortured if sent back to China.

Both Germany and Portugal may be willing to take former Guantánamo detainees. However, they say other European countries should share the burden of taking the former inmates.