Consider this a speculative post. I (Maynard) am asking a question rather than making an assertion. If there’s any meat to this, more knowledgeable people can carry on the discussion.
Recent terror attacks in China have made the news. A large-scale incident was reported two weeks ago; “Deadly Knife Attack in Kunming”
An attack by knife-wielding men at a railway station in Kunming in south-west China has left at least 29 dead, the state news agency Xinhua says.
Another 130 people were wounded in what authorities said was a “premeditated, violent terrorist attack”.
City officials said evidence implicated militants from the western region of Xinjiang, but this was not verified.
It goes on. Blah, blah, blah.
Near the bottom of the article, things get a little meatier:
Kunming officials, quoted by Xinhua, later said that evidence at the scene showed it was “a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces“.
Can you be more specific?
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority group which has a long history of discord with Chinese authorities.
Ah, finally, the M-word comes up. (And note the euphemistic use of the word “discord”. The quote is from a BBC report, and thus is expected to be appropriately “sensitive”.)
But that other word, “Uighur”? That sounds familiar.
Okay, first, what are Uighurs? Here’s Wiki.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China, where they are officially recognized as one of the 56 ethnic minorities…
Does “Uighur” imply “Islamic terrorist”? From the Wiki article on “Terrorism in China”:
…There is no single Uyghur agenda, and grievances of Uyghurs against the Chinese government are mostly political in nature. While some Uyghurs desire an independent state in line with Turkic ethnic groups of Central Asia, others desire an autonomous relation with China while retaining their distinct culture, whereas others desire extensive integration with the Chinese political system.
What’s the bottom line? I don’t know enough to make a grounded statement. It looks like the Uighurs produce some serious militants, and they’ve got a (legitimate?) beef with China’s central government. Hence the “long history of discord”, and you can guess what that probably means.
Anyway, with Uighur terrorists in the news, I was recalling how America had picked up 22 Uyghurs in 2002 and detained them at Gitmo. I’m assuming they got there because they were militants and not innocents caught up in a net. They traveled to the Islamic wars; we didn’t pick them up in China.
So Obama came to power in 2008 pledging to close Gitmo. He didn’t keep that pledge, but he’s clearly made an effort to release people.
The problem with releasing “innocent” prisoners and “reformed” militants, including the Uyghurs, is that nobody really believes they’re tame, so nobody wants to take them. Their home countries don’t want them, and Obama’s plans to release them into the United States (yes, he tried to do this quietly) were revealed and met fierce opposition.
In the case of the Uyghurs, we actually could have repatriated them to China, except Obama was concerned that China wouldn’t treat them well. In light of the recent terror attacks in China, we have some notion of China’s concerns. So, to protect these Uyghurs, in 2008 Obama offered Palau (a small Pacific island nation) $12 million per militant. We ended up unloading 17 Uyghurs in Palau and other tropical islands, for a total “donation” of about $200 million. (I recall the Drudge headline of the aftermath, “Uyghurs in Paradise”. It showed happy terrorists lounging on a tropical beach. It’s a lovely image to consider as you struggle to pay your mortgage or rent.)
Maybe you’re not laughing, but Obama thought this was funny. From the transcript of Obama’s remarks at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner on June 19, 2009:
OBAMA: Nick At Nite has a new take on an old classic, “Leave it To Uighurs.”
OBAMA: I thought that was pretty good.
You get it? Obama was making a play on words, against the old TV classic, “Leave it to Beaver”. Har har har.
And on January 1 of this year, the NYTimes reports that “U.S. Frees Last of the Chinese Uighur Detainees From Guantánamo Bay”.
China was not amused. The next day’s report: “China slams Guantánamo-to-Slovakia Uighur deal”
BEIJING — China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the United States on Thursday for sending the last three Uighur Chinese inmates at the Guantánamo Bay detention center to Slovakia, saying they were “terrorists” who posed a real security danger…
This was two months before that big massacre.
I’m not suggesting that any specific Uyghurs necessarily traveled from Europe or their tropical island paradises to China. I’m just speculating whether Obama’s boys on the same team as the murdering mob. It seems a reasonable question to ask.
What’s wrong with this picture? Whose side is Obama on? And why are we provoking China on an issue where it looks like they’re fighting terrorism and we’re aiding it?