What is a Uighur Refugee?


To understand the context of this tweet from Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth:

Kenneth Roth ‏@KenRoth 17h

Growing number of ‪#Uighurs trying to flee to Southeast Asia speaks to severe repression in ‪#China. Refuge needed. ‪http://trib.al/RhN3crS

it might be useful to understand that the United States maintains a refugee channel through Nepal for Tibetans from inside the PRC’s Tibetan Autonomous Region to make their way to Dharmsala.

The PRC is not happy with this arrangement, since most of the adults return to Tibet after their visit (the children stay in school in India).

The benign explanation is the parents got a shot of religious exhaltation by obtaining an audience with the Dalai Lama and go home to go on with their quotidian occupations.  The explanation that the PRC government probably leans toward is that these Tibetans are receiving training and resources in Dharmsala to make the PRC occupation of Tibetan regions more difficult.

A similar arrangement for Uighurs is pretty unlikely since no neighboring countries seem inclined to attract the PRC’s anger by granting refugee Uighurs an official haven.  There are unofficial havens across the Karakorum Pass, but they produce Uighur terrorists (or, if you prefer, Uighur freedom fighters;  the Uighurs at Guantanamo were considered combatants, but “non-enemy combatants”, therefore worthy of release since their intention was to target the PRC, not the US) as well as Uighur activists.

As far as I know, the PRC has not yet exercised its regional power prerogative to raid these camps; but the existence of camps and militants inside Pakistan and Afghanistan are the subject of frequent representations to Islamabad and Kabul by the Chinese government and its security services.

In the incident referenced by Mr. Roth, a group of PRC Uighurs (men, women, & children) were being returned to the PRC from Vietnam after entering illegally (the term of art here is “refoulement”, something that the Nepalese government is not supposed to do with Tibetan refugees); the men apparently seized some weapons from the Vietnamese border guard.  Two guards and five Uighur refugees were killed in the ensuing fracas.

This is unlikely to increase the enthusiasm of Vietnam for providing the refuge Roth is proposing.  Nor is the fact that the perpetrators of the knife attack that killed 27 in Kunming were apparently trying to exit the country thataway before they returned to Kunming for their rampage (the local PSB said they were trying to leave the country through Guangdong Province, which appears unlikely; they may have been trying to double back through Guangxi to Vietnam).

Given this context, and the continued acquiescence of the Obama administration to the “terrorist” designation for Uighur separatists (granted, apparently with some good reason, by President George W. Bush), it seems unlikely that any government will throw itself behind Mr. Roth’s proposal.

Peter Lee wrote a ground-breaking essay on the exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He edits China Matters.

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred
October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Cuba’s Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War