China warns Switzerland against accepting Uighur Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The Chinese Embassy in Switzerland [official website] on Friday warned that Switzerland would jeopardize relations with China by accepting two Uighur Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST news archive]. Switzerland has already agreed [JURIST report] to accept an Uzbek Guantanamo detainee, who will be relocated to the canton of Geneva, but authorities from the canton of Jura made a public statement last month expressing willingness to take two Uighur brothers. Since then, the Chinese embassy has issued repeated warnings [SwissInfo report] to Swiss authorities cautioning against accepting the Uighurs. Public reaction in Switzerland is ambivalent, with some calling for Switzerland to stay away from an American-created problem and others appealing to human rights and maintaining [Le Matin report, in French] a position independent of Chinese pressure.

Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantanamo Bay, 15 have been relocated. Six Uighurs were transferred to Palau in October, four were sent to Bermuda last June, and five were received by Albania [JURIST reports] in 2006. China has continued to call for repatriation [JURIST report] of the Uighur detainees that Chinese authorities consider to be part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and which has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China's calls to repatriate the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return. In November, four Uighurs at Guantanamo filed a petition for certiorari [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court, challenging an appellate ruling that prohibited courts from preventing the transfer of detainees to foreign countries for fear of persecution or torture.



 

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