Item 4 Oral Statement Regarding Detained Uyghur Students in Egypt

World Uyghur Congress, 21 September 2017

During the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council an Item 4 Oral Statement was made on behalf of the The Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty regarding the Uyghur students who are currently imprisoned in Egypt on baseless charges.

At least 22 have already been forcibly returned to China where they have disappeared. We fear that they may be at risk of arbitrary detention, forced re-education or torture.

The full text of the speech can be read below:

Thank you Mr. President,

I am speaking on behalf of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, to bring to the Council’s attention the situation faced by approximately 200 Uyghurs, many of them students, who are currently detained in Egypt and the reported 22 Uyghur students who have already been deported from Egypt to China in July 2017.

On July 1st, 2017, Egyptian police and security forces started to round up Chinese nationals in Egypt. Over 200 individuals, the majority of them being Uyghur students at the al-Azhar University, were arbitrarily detained and remain in detention to date. On July 6, 2017, Egyptian authorities forcibly returned at least 12 Uyghur religious students to China. Between July 11 and 14th , 10 more Uyghur students were also forcibly returned to China.

To date, there has been no information from the Chinese or Egyptian government on the whereabouts of the Uyghur students who were returned and we fear for their safety and well-being.

As I am speaking, the estimated 200 people caught in the round-up remain in detention in Egypt, uncertain of their fate. They would be at serious risk of torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations if they were returned to China. There has been no indication that these students are guilty of any wrongdoing.

There is sadly a long history of Uyghurs forcibly returned to China after studying or seeking asylum abroad. In 2009, 20 asylum seekers were returned to China from Cambodia and on 18 July 2015, 109 Uyghurs were forcibly returned from Thailand. Since their return, we have received no information on their whereabouts.

Chinese authorities have reportedly been compelling Uyghur students enrolled abroad to return to China since early 2017. Many Uyghur students have chosen to return to China voluntarily or because their families have been threatened with imprisonment and harassment. Reports indicate that a number of those who returned voluntarily were arrested upon arrival.

Deportation of individuals to a country where they may face torture or mistreatment stands in flagrant violation of international law and the principle of non-refoulement under the Refugee Convention, but the international community has remained largely silent.

We raise this issue to the Council today in the hope that those currently detained in Egypt will be treated fairly and immediately released.

We urge the People’s Republic of China, Egypt and all UN members to address this issue through constructive dialogue so that international law and respect for basic human rights may be upheld.

Thank you.