On 11 February 1999, Kasim Mapir (Kasim Mahpir), Hemit Memet (28 years old at extradition) and Ilyas Zordun, three young Uyghur asylum seekers, were forcibly returned to China by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of National Security.
The three men reportedly participated in a demonstration in the city of Ghulja (Yining) in East Turkestan on 5 February 1997. Following those demonstrations, their names appeared on wanted posters in XUAR alleging involvement in separatist or subversive activities and they fled East Turkestan in August 1998. They were apprehended by Kazakhstan officials while crossing the border from China and were held until 11 February 1999. They sought asylum while detained in Kazakhstan
The fate they faced after being returned to China is unclear. Some reports suggested that Hemit Memet was sentenced to death in a secret trial in July 1999, and that all three men had been executed in August 1999. Some reports however suggest that all three were executed on 3 October 2000. Subsequent reports indicated, however, that they did not face trial until March 2001, when they were given suspended death sentences after being convicted of “dividing the country, illegal storage of firearms, and illegally crossing the border”. Amnesty International also received unconfirmed reports that they had been tortured in detention in order to force them to “confess”, but further details of their treatment remained unclear.
It was later reported that two brothers of Hemit Memet, Saydakhmet Memet and Zulfikar (or Zulikar) Memet, had also been arrested in East Turkestan for “assisting terrorists”. They were held in Yengi Hayat prison in Gulja city and Zulfikar Memet was reportedly tortured in detention, including by having his fingernails pulled out. He was reportedly executed in secret in June 2000. Saydakhmet Memet was sentenced to six years in prison.
Amnesty International (AI), People’s Republic of China: Gross Violations of Human Rights in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, 31 March 1999, available at: www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/018/1999/en
Amnesty International (AI) Report, People’s Republic of China: Uighurs fleeing persecution as China wages its “war on terror”, ASA 17/021/2004, 6 July 2004, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/021/2004/en
Amnesty International (AI), Belarus and Uzbekistan: The Last Executioners: The trend towards abolition in the former Soviet space, EUR 04/009/2004, 3 October 2004, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR04/009/2004/en
Human Rights in China (HRIC) Report, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: The Impact of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, March 2011, available at: http://www.hrichina.org/research-and-publications/reports/sco; chapter on “Extraditions and Forcible Returns to China” available at: http://www.hrichina.org/content/5237#china
U.S. Department of State, 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China, 2000, available at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/284.htm
[Last updated: December 2011]
Continue Reading →