Weekly Brief July 7th

World Uyghur Congress, 7 July 2017

Egyptian Police Detain and Deport Uyghur Students

A number of Uyghur students studying in Cairo have been arrested in recent days, with reports indicating that some have already been returned to China with others at risk of deportation.

At least 12 Uyghur students were deported and put on a flight to China late Thursday (7 July 2017), and 22 more were detained for immediate deportation, three Egyptian aviation officials said. On July 4th, we were told that 30 Uyghur students were arrested at Eslem Uyghur restaurant in Cairo’s 7th district, including students working in the restaurant. Further reports indicate that more than 80 Uyghurs have been arrested in Cairo in July so far.

Since the end of January 2017, thousands of Uyghur students studying abroad have been forced home by the Chinese government. So far, students studying in Egypt, Turkey, France, Australia, and the United States have already been affected by the orders, but the case has been particularly alarming for Uyghur students in Egypt recently.

At least 90 percent of the estimated 7000-8000 Uyghurs who were once living in Egypt have returned either home to China or to a third country like Turkey because of recent cooperation between the Egyptian and Chinese governments. However, many still remain there and are currently fearing deportation. Some of this group have told us that they are afraid to sleep at home out of fear of their own arrest. Since around July 1st, the WUC has also been informed directly that at least ten students were arrested at the airport in Cairo while trying to take flights to Turkey or elsewhere to safety. At least 20 of the Uyghurs still in Cairo are currently trying to seek political asylum through the United Nations refugee agency.

If returned to China, the Uyghur students may be at risk of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, or even execution. We have learned that many of the students have been arrested directly at the airport upon their return and sent to re-education camps. None of them have been able to see family members and no information was provided to their families about their whereabouts. Reports have also indicated that within the last month the dead bodies of two young Uyghur men – Abdureshit (18) and Arafat (21) – who were returned to their families in Korla City from a re-education camp with no information given regarding their deaths.

World Uyghur Congress Continues to Call for Accountability Over Disappearances 8 Years On

On the 8th anniversary of the unrest in Urumqi on July 5th, 2009, the World Uyghur Congress called on the Chinese government to fulfill its international human rights commitments and open an independent investigation into countless disappearances. Legitimate questions continue to go unanswered, exacerbating tension and resentment among the Uyghur population in East Turkestan.

On July 5th, 2009, what started as a peaceful protest in response to government inaction over the deaths of Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan days earlier quickly turned violent as state security forces moved in to crush the protesters. By Chinese estimates, 197 people were killed in the violence, but we can conclude that the number is likely much higher considered China’s recurrent misrepresentation of incidents such as these. The number of deaths and injuries has since never been independently verified.

The World Uyghur Congress and its affiliates held demonstrations around the world as a means to remember those who were killed and disappeared. Some of these events, including large demonstrations, meetings and cultural events, are to be held in cities across Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Turkey, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the United States.

Other Stories

World Uyghur Congress Steering Committee to Convene Extraordinary General Assembly August 25-27, 2017

On June 23, 2017, Ms. Rabiya Kadeer’s proposed to convene an Extraordinary General Assembly of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).  The WUC Steering Committee called a meeting and approved four important propositions and assigned the general secretariat to come up with a plan on the date and location of the General Assembly. Per this decision, the general secretariat put together an action plan in line with the Steering Committee’s decisions.  It was decided that the General Assembly (World Uyghur Congress 6th General Assembly) would take place from August 25-27, 2017 in Munich, Germany.

Ilham Tohti Awarded Weimar 2017 Human Rights Prize

Uyghur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti  was awarded the Weimar Human Rights Prize by Weimar city council for his commitments to the rights of Uyghurs in the Xinjang autonomous region. On 30 June 2017, the City Council made the decision following to the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Award of the Weimar Human Rights Award, which had voted for a proposal from the Ilham Tohti Initiative and the Society for Threatened Peoples of Germany. The Weimar City Council expressed their hope that the award will spread Tohti’s message of peace and dialogue and aid the efforts for his release.

China Detains ‘More Than 100’ Uyghur Muslims Returning From Overseas Pilgrimage

It was reported this week that Chinese authorities are holding hundreds of Uyghur Muslims after they returned from overseas pilgrimage, sources in the region told RFA. The detained Uyghurs have reportedly been charged with illegal pilgrimage, for taking part in illegal religious activities and some of them are also facing charges of religious extremism. This constitutes a grave violation of their freedom of movement and shows the Chinese authorities’ increasingly extreme measures to attempt to control and restrict every aspect of how Uyghur Muslims practice their religion.