"If the US gives us the equipment, we are happy. And if they won't give it to us, it is also good": Khieu Kanharith

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cambodia shrugs at US punishment over Uighurs

Agence France-Presse

PHNOM PENH--The Cambodian government on Friday said it was untroubled by a US refusal to send military aid to the Southeast Asian nation as punishment for its deportation of 20 Chinese Uighurs.

The US stopped a shipment of 200 military trucks and trailers on Thursday in response to Phnom Penh's controversial December deportation of the ethnic Uighur asylum seekers to China, where they said they would face torture.

Nations and rights groups deplored Cambodia's move to expel the Uighurs, who had been labelled "criminals" by Beijing after fleeing China's far western Xinjiang region following violent clashes with the majority Han.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said his country was not concerned by the cancelled donation of surplus US military supplies, part of an American aid programme.

"If the US gives us the equipment, we are happy. And if they won't give it to us, it is also good," he told AFP.

"There will be no effect to our military work," the spokesman added, saying that the UN refugee agency had been too slow in assessing the Uighurs' claim to refugee status.

The decision to deport the Uighurs came a day ahead of a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during which he agreed 1.2 billion dollars in aid and loans to Cambodia with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Clashes between Xinjiang's Uighurs and China's majority Han ethnic group in July left nearly 200 dead and 1,600 injured, according to official tolls.

The US State Department in its last annual human rights report said that China was stepping up cultural and political repression against Uighurs in Xinjiang.


Post a Comment