Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If only it was still so

They are part of a total of seventeen Uighurs being held at the Guantanamo prison, who were all cleared of charges way back in 2004. However the US government has not allowed them to be released into the States . Nor can they be returned to their homeland in the Northeastern province of China.

The Uighurs are an ethnically Turkic Muslim people who have lived in what is now known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) for over 4,000 years. Unfortunately for the Uighurs, Xinjiang province represents 16 percent of China’s landmass, although only 1.6 percent of its population and it contains a large percentage of China’s mineral resources, including 38 percent of its coal reserves and 25 percent of its petroleum and gas reserves. It is also the region where China tests it’s nuclear weapons.

All in, not a region that China would likely give up or grant political or any other form of autonomy to. Similar to the Tibetans, the Muslim Uighurs, live under constant oppression from the Chinese government and are routinely denied basic civil, religious and political rights. More than 90 percent of 12 million Uighurs live below the poverty line.
Uighurs are - almost without exception - the only ethnic group in China to be routinely executed for political offences. Since September 2001, China has used the US-led “war on terror” as an excuse to oppress Uighurs with impunity, persecuting many who have peacefully protested their treatment.

Uighurs have been jailed for reading newspapers sympathetic to the cause of independence. Others have been detained merely for listening to Radio Free Asia, an English-language station funded by the US. Even the most peaceful Uighur activists, if they practise Islam in a way that the authorities deem inappropriate, risk arrest and torture.
Anyway Canada is the destination of choice for these three Uighurs, since there are existing Uighur communities in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. One of their US lawyers believes there is good chance that the Canadian government will approve the relocation as the three have Canadian sponsors and “Canada is a bit of a leader from a human rights perspective”

If only it was still so.

Obviously their lawyer hasn’t heard of Abousfian Abdelrazik stranded in Sudan or the Uighur’s fellow prisoner, nor I guess Stephen Harper.


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