The World Uyghur Congress Welcomes the U.S. Decision on Uyghur Detainees

August 13, 2004
For Immediate Release

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) welcomes the Bush Administration’s decision not to return the Uyghur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to China and appreciates the U.S. efforts in relocating them to a safe third country.

“We welcome the U.S. decision not to return the Uyghur detainees to China,” Erkin Alptekin, President of World Uyghur Congress, said. “This decision has given great hope for the Uyghur people living under Chinese oppression because they would have lost hope in democracy and freedom if the U.S. has returned the detainees to China.”

“This landmark decision is a direct blow to China’s fictitious war on so-called Uyghur terrorism,” Alim Seytoff, Executive Chairman of WUC said. “It helps prevent China from hijacking the U.S. war on international terrorism and further cracking down the Uyghur people by branding even peaceful activists as ‘violent terrorists’.”

In an interview with Washington-based Radio Free Asia on August 12, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “The Uyghurs are a difficult problem, and we are trying to resolve all issues with respect to all detainees at Guantanamo. The Uyghurs are not going back to China, but finding places for them is not a simple matter. We are trying to find places for them, and, of course, all candidate countries are being looked at.”

Some 22 Uyghurs were detained at the Guantanamo Bay since 2002 after their capture in Afghanistan during U.S. campaigns against the fundamentalist Taliban regime. Since then, the Chinese government had been demanding that the U.S. should return them to China to face alleged terrorist charges but U.S. didn’t consider them terrorists.

The World Uyghur Congress promotes the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan and adherence to the international accepted human rights standard, adherence to the principals of democratic pluralism, and rejection of totalitarianism, religious intolerance, and terrorism as an instrument of policy.