China calls on US to return prisoners

The Chinese foreign ministry has called on the US government to repatriate Uighur prisoners held in its Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

    Twenty-two Chinese citizens are being held in Guantanamo Bay

    The US government said on Wednesday that it is holding 22 Chinese citizens in the detention centre on the Caribbean island of Cuba although it did not say how many were Uighurs.

    Beijing believes some of the Uighurs are from the Xinjiang region, where a militant separatist movement is fighting for an independent state of East Turkestan.

    "We hope the American side would repatriate the terrorists of the Chinese citizens," said Qin Qang, a foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday.

    "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 US."

    Militant campaign

    US officials say they cannot send Uighur prisoners back to China because it is likely they will be tortured or killed.

    Two of the Chinese Uighurs held in Guantanamo Bay had the appeal against their continued detention turned down by the US Supreme Court on Monday.

    The two men, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim, were cleared last year of being "enemy combatants" and a US federal judge had earlier declared their detention in Cuba unlawful.

    A newspaper report over the weekend said that Germany was being pressed to take the two men.

    A Supreme Court lawyer for the Bush administration, Paul Clement, told justices that there were "substantial ongoing diplomatic efforts to transfer them to an appropriate country".

    Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the west of China with a language and culture distinct from the rest of the country.

    Many Uighurs have been waging a low-level militant campaign for greater autonomy for the region.

    As a result Beijing has waged a relentless campaign against what it calls the violent separatist activities of the Uighurs.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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