Jan 08, 2009

East Turkestan: Finland Considers Uyghur Asylum Plan

 Finland has emerged as the latest country to contemplate granting asylum to the Guantanamo Bay detainees who originally hailed from East Turkestan in China. 

Below is an article published by YLE International: 

Finnish officials will begin discussions this week [Week 2, 2009] on whether to offer asylum to former terror suspects detained at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Government will have the final say on the matter. 

US president-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the prison as soon as possible. Recently Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado recommended that the EU make a decision on how it would deal with the prisoners at the foreign ministers' meeting at the end of this month. So far the US has not discussed with Finland the possibility of taking in detainees. 

Previously the US had proposed that Finland take in Uighur prisoners, members of a Turkic minority in China. The Uighur detainees are unable to return to China for fear of being tortured. Some 15 Uighurs are currently imprisoned at Guantánamo. The facility houses about 250 prisoners and has held about 750 prisoners since it began operations. 

Human rights organisations have demanded that the US close the controversial prison. Ilkka Rentola of the Finnish Foreign Ministry notes that the EU has also been calling for the prison to be shut down since 2006. 

It is unclear how Finland would classify the detainees, who have not been charged with any crimes. Most likely, they would be considered refugees.