The Chinese Embassy in Switzerland on Jan. 8 warned that the Swiss government would jeopardize relations with China by accepting two Uighur Guantánamo Bay detainees. Switzerland has already agreed to accept an Uzbek Guantánamo detainee, who will be relocated to the canton of Geneva, but authorities from the canton of Jura made a public statement last month expressing willingness to take two Uighur brothers. Since then, the Chinese embassy has issued repeated warnings to Swiss authorities cautioning against accepting the Uighurs. Public reaction in Switzerland is ambivalent, with some calling for Switzerland to stay away from an US-created problem and others appealing to human rights and maintaining a position independent of Chinese pressure.
Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantánamo Bay, 15 have been relocated. Six Uighurs were transferred to Palau in October, four were sent to Bermuda last June, and five were received by Albania in 2006. China has continued to call for repatriation of the Uighur detainees, who Chinese authorities consider to be part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant group that calls for separation from China and which has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China’s calls to repatriate the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return. In November, four Uighurs at Guantánamo filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, challenging an appellate ruling that prohibited courts from preventing the transfer of detainees to foreign countries for fear of persecution or torture. (Jurist, Jan. 10)