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China protests US relocation of Guantanamo Uighurs
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 26, 2012

China condemned the United States Thursday for sending two former terrorist suspects with Chinese nationality to El Salvador for resettlement and warned they were dangerous.

The Pentagon said last week it had sent to El Salvador two members of China's Uighur ethnic minority who were detained without charge for nearly a decade at the Guantanamo Bay prison, after they were cleared of wrongdoing.

"China has already made representations with the US over the transfer of these suspects to El Salvador," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.

"We urge the US side to correct their mistakes and ask the El Salvador side to fulfil its international obligation, fully recognise the dangers of these suspects ... and refuse them."

The men were among a group of 22 Uighurs arrested at a camp in the mountains of Afghanistan after the US-led coalition bombing campaign began there in 2001, a month after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The Uighurs -- members of a mainly Muslim minority who have long accused China of repression -- were cleared years ago of wrongdoing and had been staying in a special part of the prison with a library and recreational space.

Washington usually seeks to send cleared Guantanamo inmates to their home country. But it has refused Beijing's demands to repatriate the Uighurs, saying they would face almost certain persecution.

Liu said the suspects belong to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed by the United Nations and the United States as a terrorist organisation.

According to UN resolutions, member states should refuse to give such suspects asylum, Liu said.

Uighurs hail from China's western Xinjiang region, which in 2009 witnessed some of the country's deadliest ethnic violence in years.

Many Uighurs bristle at what they see as cultural and religious persecution at the hands of Beijing, which has sent in settlers from the country's Han majority. Beijing argues that it has spurred development in the arid region.

After the latest transfer, three Uighurs remain at the US-run prison camp in Cuba.

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