European Parliament: Parliamentary Question on Ershidin Israel

European Parliament, 14 June 2011

Question (E-005697/2011) for written answer to the Commission by Ramon Tremosa i Balcells MEP (ALDE):

Subject: Fears of imminent extradition of Uyghur refugee Ershidin Israel from Kazakhstan to China and need for the EU to act according to its values and objectives

Like many other Uyghurs who have been extradited to China in the recent past, where they were detained, imprisoned, sentenced, tortured, executed or disappeared upon their return, Ershidin Israel, 38, a Uyghur refugee currently in detention in a unknown location in Kazakhstan, is in imminent danger of being extradited to China after the Kazakh authorities rejected his asylum application. Mr Israel was taken on 30 May 2011 at 8.00 p.m. (local time) from the prison in Almaty, where he was detained, by one Kazakh prosecutor and two Chinese men, probably police, to an unknown location. Neither his family nor his lawyer were informed about his whereabouts and his legal status and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) believed that he was on the way to be extradited to China on 31 May 2011 at 9.00 p.m. (local time), on a flight from Almaty to Urumqi, the regional capital of East Turkestan.

Rebiya Kadeer, WUC president and former prisoner of conscience, said that she was very disappointed by Kazakhstan’s decision to not grant Mr Israel asylum and put his life under serious threat. Uyghurs should be treated according to international norms both at home and elsewhere.

On 8 March 2011, High Representative/Vice President Ashton stated, in the answer to E-011256/2010, that: ‘China has not provided any information yet on these cases. The EU continues to follow this matter very closely.’ I imagine the EU has now asked for and insisted on obtaining this information from the Chinese authorities.

If they want to remain credible in terms of their values and objectives, the European Union and the international community should stand up and act for Mr Israel and call on the Kazakh authorities not to send him back to China, where he would face detention and torture. In the light of the above:

1. Is the Commission aware of this case? What concrete actions will the EU and its Delegations in China and Kazakhstan take with the responsible authorities?

2. Could the EU provide us with the information it has obtained from the Chinese and Kazakh authorities?

Answer (E-005697/2011) given by High Representative/VicePresident Ashton on behalf of the Commission on 28 July 2011:

The High Representative/Vice‑President is aware of the case of Mr Israel and has been following this issue very closely.

Initially, in light of the fact that Mr Israel had been recognised by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) acting under its mandate as a refugee, the EU’s position was to urge Kazakhstan not to expel Mr Israel to China. This was done on several occasions, including a demarche by the European Union to the Kazakhstani authorities, which was carried out by the EU Delegation in Astana.

However, in light of further information provided by the Kazakhstani authorities, UNHCR subsequently decided to reverse its decision to grant Mr Israel refugee status under its mandate. In the light of the decision taken by UNHCR, the EU no longer had a legal basis on which to raise Mr Israel’s case with the Kazakhstani authorities any further.

The information that the EU received from the Kazakhstani authorities and from the lawyer of Mr Israel is that Mr Israel was extradited to China on 30 May 2011. In returning him to China, the Kazakhstani authorities announced that they had received assurances from the Chinese authorities that Mr Israel would not be subject to torture or capital punishment. The EU has asked for details of Mr Israel’s current situation at the EU‑China human rights dialogue held on 16 June 2011; the EU is awaiting a response from the Chinese authorities. The EU will continue to monitor Mr Israel’s situation with the Chinese authorities.