May 8, 2006 -- China asked Albania today to hand over five Chinese detainees who have asked for asylum there after being released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Chinese Ambassador in Tirana Tian Changchun said Beijing had asked Albania to return as soon as possible "the five terrorists", who are Uyghers -- that is, members of a Turkic minority in China.
The five are among Chinese detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for several years after being picked up during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
The U.S. military concluded the Uyghurs presented no terrorist threat to the United States. But they continued to be held because they faced persecution as independence-minded Uyghers if they were sent to China.
Albania agreed on May 5 to take in the detainees and is considering their applications for asylum, which could take two months.
Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrating Orthodox Christmas (CTK, file photo)
RELIGION AND SOCIETY: On December 21, 2005, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a panel discussion on issues related to religious freedom in the former Soviet Union. Panelists included CATHERINE COSMAN, a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; FELIX CORLEY, editor of the Forum 18 News Service; and JOHN KINAHAN, Forum 18 assistant editor.
Cosman argued in her presentation that the Russian Orthodox Church receives preferential treatment from the government. She also expressed concern about the estimated 50,000 skinheads active in Russia. Corley focused on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, arguing that many governments in the region "fear institutions they can't control." Kinahan's presentation concentrates on the Uzbek government's assertions that Islamist extremists were behind the May uprising in Andijon.
LISTEN Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):Real Audio Windows Media
Central Asia: Region Returns To Muslim Roots
Central Asia: Regional Leaders Try to Control Islam
Unholy Alliance? Nationalism And The Russian Orthodox Church
THE COMPLETE STORY:
A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.