Feb 06, 2009

Uyghurs: Still in Limbo

Active ImageChina urged Canada not to accept Uyghurs as refugees.
Below is an article published by: The Vancouver Sun

China urged Canada on Thursday [05 February 2009] not to take in up to three members of its Uyghur minority held at Guantanamo Bay, saying the issue should be solved according to international law.

The three, whose lawyers have filed applications for refugee status in Canada, are among a group of 17 Uyghurs captured in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo for the past seven years.

"We have expressed our position many times about those Chinese terrorists detained in Guantanamo. We are opposed to any country accepting those people," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing.

"We hope the parties concerned can resolve conveniently this issue according to the international laws and regulations."

Uyghurs, who are mostly Muslim, form the largest ethnic group in northwest China's Xinjiang region that borders Central Asia. Some hope for independence from China.

Jiang was asked to comment on an appeal from Amnesty International, a Canadian Uyghur group and several churches for Canada's government to take in the three Uyghurs.

In an open letter, the human rights group urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to "indicate to U.S. officials that Canada is prepared to accept for resettlement any of the men who wish to come to Canada".

The 17 Uyghurs have been held in limbo at Guantanamo, despite being cleared for release by the U.S. government, because officials cannot find a country willing to take them.

Beijing has demanded the return of the 17 prisoners that it said were part of a United Nations-listed terror group seeking an independent homeland in Xinjiang.

But Washington held them back for fear the Chinese government would persecute or torture them.