I assume these Uighurs have Chinese citizenship. The article does not say whether the Uighurs would be willing to go back to China, probably not since they might very well face charges of being terrorists. I should imagine the same would be the case if US citizens had trained in camps in Afghanistan!
Some groups in the US have offered to help integrate them into the US but the Bush administration would not allow this. Perhaps Obama will.
China Asks for Return of Uighurs Held in Guantanamo (Update1)
By James Peng
Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- China called for the early return of 17 Chinese Uighurs from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison as President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the detention center holding suspected terrorists within a year.
“We oppose other nations taking these suspects and they should be repatriated to China immediately to be dealt with by Chinese law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yusaid yesterday, according to the ministry’s Web site. The issue should be handled according to international law, she said.
China blames the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement for bomb attacks in the predominantly Muslim far western region of Xinjiang. Police detained almost 100 people there before the Beijing Olympic Games in August for allegedly plotting attacks, the official Xinhua News Agency reported in July.
Uighurs, who are mainly Muslim, make up half of Xinjiang’s 20.5 million people, according to the provincial government’s office in Beijing. While the Chinese Uighurs were originally cleared for release in 2004, the U.S. government said it couldn’t find any country willing to accept them and was concerned they would be persecuted if they returned to China.
The Uighurs were living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign to oust the Taliban regime began in October 2001. They fled to the mountains and were turned over to Pakistani authorities, who then handed them to the U.S.
A U.S. court ruled in October that former President George W. Bush’s administration must immediately release the detainees, saying they should no longer be considered enemy combatants in the war on terrorism. A second court blocked the order later that month.
The U.S. lists the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization because of alleged links to al-Qaeda.
Obama said he will form an inter-agency government task force to advise him on how to deal with the 245 detainees now at Guantanamo.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday a number of legal issues must be resolved with the Justice Department regarding Guantanamo, including where some of the detainees will go after the prison is closed.
China’s suppression of dissidents, especially rights advocates in Tibet and Xinjiang regions, remains a source of tension in relations with major trading partners including the U.S. and European Union.
To contact the reporter on this story: James Peng in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org Last Updated: January 23, 2009 00:22 EST