How China Uses Guantánamo’s Former Uyghur Prisoners to Justify the Mass Imprisonment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province

Uyghur prisoners in Guantánamo calling for their release in 2009 (above), and Uyghur prisoners in a “re-education” camp in Xinjiang province in 2018 (below).

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CNN is to be congratulated for recently publishing a detailed article about one of lingering injustices of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, involving the Uyghurs, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group from Xinjiang province, in the north west of China, whose cases I have reported on ever since I first began researching and writing about Guantánamo in 2006.

22 Uyghurs, captured crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001, ended up at Guantánamo, where the Bush administration, seeking cooperation from the Chinese authorities in the global “war on terror” that the US declared after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, obligingly designated the Uyghur prisoners as members of a largely non-existent terrorist organization, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

This decision not only continues to blight the lives of the former Guantánamo prisoners, who were all resettled in third countries between 2006 and 2013, having been cleared of all wrongdoing by the US, but has also been used by the Chinese government to justify its ruthless imprisonment, since 2017, of at least a million Uyghurs in “re-education” camps, where credible allegations have been repeatedly made about how, as well as attempting to eradicate Uyghur culture, religion and identity through “re-education,” the camps also involve the forced sterilisation of Uyghur women, and the forced separation of children from their parents. There have also been numerous credible reports about Uyghur women being subjected to rape and torture.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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