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Canada repeatedly refused to provide asylum for Chinese Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The Canadian government under former Prime Minister Paul Martin and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper [BBC profiles] has repeatedly refused asylum requests [JURIST report] from US officials on behalf of Chinese detainees held at detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], according to Canadian government documents obtained Wednesday by the Canadian Press. The 22 detainees, all ethnic Uighurs [Wikipedia backgrounder], were sold to US authorities by Pakistani bounty hunters. They have maintained that they were merely escaping persecution from Chinese authorities and are not a terrorist threat to the United States. Canadian authorities appear apprehensive about establishing a precedent of accepting Guantanamo Bay detainees, which may have "bilateral and multilateral implications" if Canada faces extradition requests from the detainees' home state. Canada is also bound by the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement [official backgrounder], which bars refugees from entering Canada through the United States except under specific exceptions. The Albanian government agreed to accept five of the 22 Uighur detainees [JURIST report] in May 2006.

The US government, which is unwilling to offer the detainees domicile in the United States, also refuses to repatriate the ethnic Uighurs to China, as China classifies Uighurs as terrorists and has been known to persecute the group due to their Muslim faith [HRW backgrounder]. Uighurs are often affiliated with secular independence movements or terrorist organizations like the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the East Turkestan Liberation Organization [MIPT backgrounders] which advocate an Islamic state within China's Xinjiang province. AP has more.

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