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Friday, August 13, 2004

Colin Powell Confirms Uyghurs Will Not Be Returned to China

From: "Nury A. Turkel" <nuryturkel@hotmail.com>
For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kevin MilesAugust 12,2004 (202) 349-1494

Colin Powell Confirms Uyghurs Will Not Be Returned to China;UHRP/UAA Hails Decision(Washington, D.C.)

Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and the Uyghur American Association has learned that US Secretary of State Colin Powell has confirmed that the US government has decided not to return 22 Uyghur detainees, currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, back to China. "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," Powell said today in a meeting with journalists in Washington, D.C. Powell added that "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." Powell's remarks come on the heels of unconfirmed reports in June that the US had decided not to return the Uyghurs to China."We are very pleased to receive confirmation of this decision," Nury Turkel, President of the Uyghur American Association, and UHRP Executive Director said. "If these Uyghurs were returned to China, they would have been tortured and most likely executed." Since the 1990s, several Uyghur refugees have been tortured and executed upon being returned to China by foreign governments.According to Turkel, the decision is also critical to maintaining US credibility in the eyes of the Uyghurs, who have been generally sympathetic of the US-led war on terror. "China would have had a propaganda field day, which they would have used to demonize the US to Uyghurs, but instead Uyghurs in East Turkistan have a renewed sense of hope and optimism," Turkel said.Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UHRP, and its parent organization, the Uyghur American Association, had campaigned on behalf of the 22 Uyghur detainees, citing a strong possibility that they would face torture and/or execution if returned to China. According to UHRP, such a return of the detainees would violate US and international law.About UHRP: Founded in 2004 by the Uyghur American Association, UHRP promotes human rights and democracy for the Uyghur people.About UAA: Founded in 1998, UAA is a community membership organization that represents Uyghurs living in the United States and promotes human rights and democracy for the Uyghur people, principally through UHRP.


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