[JURIST] The Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, English version] again demanded Thursday that the United States repatriate 17 Uighur detainees [JURIST news archive] that a US district judge has ordered to be released [JURIST report] from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. During a press conference [transcript], Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the Uighurs, who are members of an ethnic Chinese Muslim minority, would be dealt with "according to the law" if returned. Qin told reporters:
We have repeatedly and explicitly stated our position on this issue. We require the US to repatriate these terrorist suspects to China with no delay. This position has stayed unchanged. Any unbiased mind with some knowledge about China would not worry about the so-called torture issue. The Chinese Government runs the country under the rule of law. Besides, China joined the UN Convention Against Torture as early as 1988. Chinese Authorities including those in charge of justice and public security all prohibit torture.
The order to release the Uighurs into the US from Guantanamo has been temporarily stayed [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website]. In issuing the stay Wednesday, the DC Circuit ordered [PDF text] attorneys for the US Justice Department (DOJ) [official website] to file a motion for a stay pending appeal by 4 PM Friday. AP has more. Voice of America has additional coverage. China's official Xinhua News Agency has local coverage.
In July, China reportedly executed two Uighurs [JURIST report] alleged to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], a militant group calling for separation from China and designated a terrorist group by the United States for suspected ties to al Qaeda. Thirteen other Uighurs were given jail terms ranging from ten years to life imprisonment. In 2006, China criticized the United States for releasing five Uighurs to Albania [JURIST reports], where officials reviewed their applications for asylum. In 2005, a US district judge ruled [JURIST report] that two Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay could be detained indefinitely even though their imprisonment was unlawful because they could face death or torture in China. The US State Department has said the Uighurs are among detainees who will be released [JURIST report] once the US receives assurances that they will not be persecuted in their home countries or finds other countries willing to accept them.