WUC Condemns Illegal Deportation of Uyghurs from Malaysia

 Press Release – For immediate release
4 February 2013
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or contact@uyghurcongress.org

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported yesterday that Malaysia secretly deported 6 Uyghur men to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 31 December 2012. In violation of international law as they were still under review following their applications, this incident is reminiscent of the deportation of 11 Uyghurs from Malaysia on 18 August 2011 and continues a disturbing trend to deport Uyghur refugees from countries with strong economic and diplomatic ties to the PRC. The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) calls on the international community to take stock once again of the failings of Malaysia to uphold international law and fundamental human rights and for the PRC to divulge information on their whereabouts.

The 6 Uyghurs were reportedly detained after they allegedly tried to leave Malaysia with false passports at an unknown time earlier in 2012. Whilst in detention, they began proceedings to obtain refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, after being permitted to undertake refugee status determination (RSD) interviews. Being that all six men were having their asylum claims being reviewed, the Malaysian authorities clandestinely handed over the men on 31 December 2012 into the custody of the Chinese authorities, who subsequently placed them on a chartered flight to the PRC.

Though it should naturally hold sympathy to the plight of Uyghurs due to religious and scholastic ties, Malaysia has an appalling record when dealing with refugees, in spite of credible evidence of Uyghurs being subjected to torture and other forms of degrading or inhuman treatment. On 18 August 2011, Malaysia deported 11 Uyghurs in flagrant abuse of international law concerning refugees. China is currently Malaysia’s biggest trading partner, and the two sides are seeking to deepen trade and cultural ties in the wake of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Malaysia in April 2011. Under similar circumstances, Jia Qinglin will be visiting Malaysia on 5 February 2013, no doubt seeking even closer ties.

“Whilst this visit presents an opportunity for Malaysia to urge guarantees for their safety, past experiences do not afford much hope to this situation in view of Malaysia’s lack of efforts or concern for those deported in August 2011”, said WUC President Rebiya Kadeer. In that regard, little is known of the fate, whereabouts and condition of the 11 Uyghur refugees deported in August 2011. This trend is resembled in the situation of Ershidin Israel and 20 Uyghurs who were deported from Kazakhstan and Cambodia respectively, which also violated international law.

The WUC therefore calls on the international community to condemn these deportations and to urge Malaysia to respect internationally accepted norms on the treatment of refugees. In the face of much widespread, documented human rights violations in East Turkestan against Uyghurs, Malaysia cannot deny any more that the treatment of Uyghurs meets accepted international standards. The international community must take stock of this situation so as to prevent further violations occurring in the future. The WUC also hopes that the US and the European Union in particular will use all diplomatic avenues to investigate how this situation continues to arise.