Friday, May 8, 2009

Rep. Wolf (R-VA) Takes a Hard Line on Gitmo's Uyghurs

Representative Frank Wolf is putting his foot down on the matter of releasing the 17 Uyghir detainees now at Gitmo, making me wonder again: who are the Uyghurs anyway and why do they matter to me?

There are only about 1,000 Uyghirs living in the U.S., according to the Uyghur American Organization (yes, they have their own 501 (c) (3) ethnic-national association, in the long tradition of diaspora groups in America, and they prefer to spell their name with a "u" instead of the "i" that I find in most official U.S. government renderings) but they have an organized lobby complete with web site, press kits, news releases, awards to U.S. supporters, autobiographies of prominent Uyghir-Americans and all. The main thrust of their political activity seems to be working the human rights issue against the Chinese government, and basically trying to elbow in line next to the Tibetans as another certified victim-group in need of our pity, cash, and sanctions against their political enemies.

Here's the press kit where you can read about how a few of their fellow countrymen found themselves, through no fault of their own, in Gitmo. It seems it's all a big misunderstanding that goes back to when U.S. forces in Afghanistan "found the Uyghir refugees ... in the wrong place at the wrong time." Just the kind of thing that could happen to anybody. The "wrong place" was an Al-Qaeda training camp, but you won't learn that from the press kit.

Regarding Rep. Wolf, the Uyghir-Americans used to recognize and praise him for his human rights efforts vis-a-vis China and his support for his Uyghir constituents in Northern Virginia. I guess he has now fallen in their esteem. No more awards for you!

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