Weekly Brief July 14th
World Uyghur Congress, 14 July 2017
Round Up of Uyghur Students in Egypt Continues
Despite condemnation from human rights groups and Uyghur exiles across the world, Egypt’s sweeping crackdown on Uyghur students continued this week as even more Uyghurs were rounded up and detained. According to Radio Free Asia, at least 200 Uyghurs, many of them religious students at Al-Azhar religious university, have been detained by Egyptian authorities.
Many of the students were detained at Egyptian airports as they attempted to flee the country. Reports have emerged that a woman who was nine-months pregnant was arrested by Egyptian authorities while attempting to seek refuge in Turkey.
Those who have been detained now are at serious risk of being forcibly deported to China. According to the Egyptian Commission of Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) 12 Uyghur students were already deported to China on July 6. This is particularly concerning as Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers consistently face persecution by Chinese authorities upon their return. There are many documented cases of Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers who have been forced to endure extended periods of arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance and execution after being forcibly returned to China.
Forcibly returning individuals who face persecution and torture constitutes a clear violation of international law, namely the United Nations Refugee Convention (UNHCR) and the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT).
Uyghur students have now directly appealed in a letter to the Al-Azhar Islamic University’s Grand Imam, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, to intervene to prevent further deportations of Uyghur students to China. Al-Azhar had already claimed in a statement on July 7, 2017 that no students were arrested on its premises, but that it was engaging with authorities in Egypt in the wake of reports of mass arrests on social media.
WUC Expresses Deep Sadness at the Death of Liu Xiaobo in Press Statement
The World Uyghur Congress expressed its deep sadness and regret upon hearing of the death of Liu Xiaobo. Liu succumbed to terminal liver cancer on Thursday, 13 July 2017, after the Chinese government refused to allow him to travel overseas to seek emergency treatment. The tireless Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner was serving an 11-year jail term for his activism. He played an instrumental role in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and worked for years speaking and writing publicly about the importance of democracy.
Liu will forever stand as a symbol both of a wide-ranging struggle for human rights and democracy as well as the relentless and repressive power of the state. His case appropriately embodies China’s continued efforts to silence peaceful critics, intimidate dissidents and stifle a much needed conversation about what approach will truly benefit Chinese, Uyghurs, Tibetans and many others.
Freedom and democracy have never been inevitabilities. They have arisen out of the work of countless peoples for decades. Locking away the few has only emboldened the many.
More than 100 People Connected to Kazakh Iman Detained by Chinese Police
According to Radio Free Asia, over 100 supporters, friends and former classmates of an ethnic minority Kazakh imam have been detained in a crackdown by Chinese authorities. The imam, known only as Amet, died in police custody on 4 June 2017, with Chinese police claiming the cause of death was ‘suicide’. The Kazakh minority group in China, many of whom are Muslims, have been the target of repressive and restrictive policies from the Chinese authorities, in a similar manner to the Uyghur population.