by Dmitry Babich
February 12, 2014 (TSR) – A recent piece of news about the last three Uyghur prisoners being released from the American prison camp in Guantanamo and sent to Slovakia went almost unnoticed anywhere in the world outside China. The reason is understandable – all three suspected terrorists hail from the Xinjiang province in the north-west of China, where there is a sizable minority of Uyghur Moslems.
These three Uyghurs are the last batch of the group of 22 Uyghur seized in 2002 by US forces who found them in a Taliban-operated terrorist camp in Afghanistan. Since 2002, the destinies of the 22 Uyghur “students” of the Taliban terrorists took many different turns, with some of them going to Albania, others being transferred to various locations in the United States, etc.
By a curious turn of events, the three men being released to Slovakia probably face the brightest future, since the Slovak government said in a recent statement that the three “had never been charged with a criminal act of terrorism”.
The US media, which described the situation of all the 22 Uyghur prisoners of Guantanamo with a certain sympathy, stressed that “none of the detained Uyghurs admitted seeing the United States as an enemy.” The American media also added (again with implicit sympathy for the people with such views) that the conduct of the Chinese government in Xinjiang is that of an “oppressive occupation.” Examples abound-
To me, this logic applied by western media looks twisted. If people who “occasionally” found themselves in a terrorist camp in Afghanistan (a suspect place to be for a ‘peaceful person’) direct their future actions against the United States or one of America’s many allies, these people are considered terrorists or at least dangerous individuals. But if they direct their “anger” and possible armed actions against China, they are not considered terrorists.
Not just that, some of them even get the status of “No Longer Enemy Combatants” (NELC). As the story with the Uyghurs’ expulsion to Slovakia shows, there is just one step from the NELC status to ‘complete impunity’. But is it fair?
Even if the Uyghur separatists captured in Afghanistan did not take part in the violent action in Xinjiang, which leaves dozens of people dead every year, how could “peaceful people” find themselves in a training camp for the modern variant of Nazis – the violent Islamists from the Taliban movement? Does not this fact alone make these people dangerous – not only for China, but for the entire world?
Interestingly, the same kind of twisted logic is applied by the US and their allies not only to terrorists from the Chinese territory, but also to the terrorists from Russia and India – the other two BRICS members which have separatist movements in their territory.
Again, if these terrorists vow to fight the US and other Western countries, they are declared terrorists by the US media. But if they vow to fight Russia or India (with a lot of “collateral” killing of civilians), they are often described as “freedom fighters.”
During the so-called “Chechen wars” of 1994-1996 and 2000-2001 (periods when the Russian state had to fight actively against a coalition of separatists and Islamist extremist in its autonomy of Chechnya) the sympathies of the American press and foreign policy structures were almost entirely on the side of the Chechen separatists. A lot of these separatists, including some with terrorist pasts, are now leading an ‘American life’ in the US, where they obtained the status of political refugees. The same is the case with the international “face” of the Uyghur separatist movement – Rebiya Kadeer, 68, the president of the so-called World Uyghur Congress.
Despite the fact that this representative of a “persecuted minority” managed to become a millionaire in the Chinese-ruled Xinjiang, she believes herself in a position to decide the fate of the region, with both its Uyghur and the Chinese Han population.
And the logic of the US media which largely supports Kadeer, taking at face value her “condemnation” of the violent actions of the separatists in Xinjiang, is the same as the logic behind the Western support for violent protests in Ukraine. It is proclaimed that the protests were “initially peaceful” (well, violence does start at some point, but the “protests” in Syria in 2011 were not peaceful from the beginning, and protests in Ukraine became violent one week after their start in November 2013). The conclusion is that IF the government (of China, Russia or Ukraine) had met all of the protesters’ demands from the beginning, violence would never have started. So, the blame is put on the government. The idea that very often the government’s acquiescence to extremist action can be the cause of violence (which was the case in Ukraine) – this idea occurs to the Western media very rarely.
Taking all of these facts into account, one might conclude that there is a powerful bond between at least three BRICS’ member countries (Russia, China and India) – their joint fight against the terrorist threat which the “mainstream” West prefers not to notice and sometimes even gives indirect aid by keeping the “immigration” escape door open.
Dmitry Babich is a senior journalist based in Moscow who has worked with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Moscow News and Ria Novosti. He is currently a political analyst for Voice of Russia.
First published in The Brics Post.