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Friday, December 17, 2004

Out of the US frying pan into the Chinese fire...?

Aljazeera's English-language correspondents have been providing some very interesting articles over the last few months, reporting on 'third world' stories that get little or no coverage in the UK press / TV news. This one in particular caught my eye, concerning the as yet undecided fate of Uighur Chinese prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay. I really find it hard to imagine a worse position than that facing these people - caught between US imperial power and Chinese state repression.
The two nations are of course, temporarily and superficially, allies in the 'war on terror'. The Chinese government has used 9/11 as an excuse to crackdown on resistance to their rule in the far west, but the US is clearly slightly embarrassed by this particular appropriation of a rhetoric created in Washington.
The US government quite obviously doesn't care much about the welfare of these people (it has in all likelihood been treating them in much the same way as other Gitmo prisoners/hostages), but at the same time, what would sending them to (more) torture and (possible) death in China do for US human rights rhetoric re the PRC?
The last few paragraphs are particularly interesting on the question of what the US is going to do with these men:

In early November, Norway, which was approached by Washington as a possible candidate, rejected the idea, saying it was a problem the US should solve on its own.

One possibility has been for the European Union to split the burden of taking the prisoners, possibly linking it with the proposed lifting of the arms embargo placed on China after Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Failing that, the US could decide to take the prisoners themselves, or they could just stay in Guantanamo, permanent guests of the Pentagon.

So there's a possibility of bribing China to keep quiet about the fate of the Uighur prisoners with weapons (European arms manufacturers have been desperate to get rid of the post-Tiananmen embargo for ages). The humanitarianism of our rulers knows no bounds.
And what is it with Norway? Why does everyone try to dump people on them? With all the political exiles living there, it must be one of the most dangerous places on earth.
By coincidence, I visited Stavanger this autumn, but fortunately escaped unscathed (not sure the same can be said for my wallet).


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