OHCHR / 22 December 2009

GENEVA (22 December 2009) – The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, expressed grave concern about the forcible return of 20 ethnic Uyghurs from Cambodia to China. The deportees were seeking asylum in Cambodia after having fled China during the past few months, following clashes between Uyghurs and Han, in the Xinjiang region in July 2009.

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OHCHR / 22 December 2009

GENEVA (22 December 2009 )– The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, has called upon the Government of China to permit a comprehensive and independent assessment of the ethnic-tensions and grievances that erupted into violence in July 2009 in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, at the earliest opportunity.

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The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is outraged, disgusted, and deeply saddened by Cambodia’s illegal, inhumane, and egregious forcible return to China of twenty Uyghurs who had sought refuge and protection in Cambodia

For immediate release
December 22, 2009
Contact: World Uyghur Congress +49 89 5432 1999

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is outraged, disgusted, and deeply saddened by Cambodia’s illegal, inhumane, and egregious forcible return to China of twenty Uyghurs who had sought refuge and protection in Cambodia.  On Saturday evening, December 19, 2009 (Phnom Penh time), the Cambodian government – in severe violation of international law – forced these twenty Uyghurs, who included two children (6 month, 1 year old), aboard a special plane sent from China (i), the country from which they had escaped several months ago because of the immense risk that they would be persecuted on account of their peaceful political activities, Uyghur ethnicity, and Muslim religion.  In forcibly returning these Uyghurs to China, Cambodia has exposed them to immense danger.  Uyghur asylum-seekers who have been forcibly returned to China in the past have been detained, tortured, and in some cases sentenced to death and executed.  According to Amnesty International, with the exception of one Tibetan case, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (known to the Uyghurs as East Turkestan) is the only region in China where prisoners of conscience have been executed in recent years (ii).

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Presidency Statement on the forced return by Cambodia of asylum seekers

Published by The Presidency of European Union, 21 December 2009

The Presidency of European Union is deeply concerned about the decision by the Cambodian Government to forcibly return a group of ethnic Uighur asylum seekers to China on December 19, 2009, prior to an examination of their status under international refugee law. The Government’s action shows a worrying disregard for Cambodia’s obligations under international law, as well as for specific undertakings given to UNHCR in this case. The Presidency urges the Cambodian Government to review its procedures for dealing with applications for asylum, in order to ensure that the procedures comply with Cambodia’s obligations under international law.

 The Presidency urges China to ensure that the human rights of the returned persons are respected, and to guarantee transparency and due process.


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UNHCR deplores deportation of asylum-seekers before claims heard

 Geneva, Saturday 19 December 2009

The UN refugee agency expressed deep concern today about the involuntary return of asylum seekers before their claims have been heard. A disturbing pattern of such cases is increasingly evident around the world.

States are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which applies to both those recognized as refugees and those seeking asylum.

 The forced return of asylum-seekers without a full examination of their asylum claims is a serious breach of international refugee law.

 UNHCR is deeply distressed at today’s forced return of some 20 ethnic Uighurs from China who had filed asylum claims in Cambodia but whose cases had not yet been assessed.

On Friday, UNHCR communicated to the Royal Government of Cambodia its concern at reports of imminent deportation.


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US State Department: Cambodia’s Forcible Return of Uighurs to China

Gordon Duguid
Acting Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 19, 2009

On December 19, the Royal Government of Cambodia, at the request of China, forcibly removed a group of 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China in apparent violation of Cambodia’s international obligations. The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of these individuals, who had sought protection under international law. We are also deeply disturbed that the Cambodian government decided to forcibly remove the group without the benefit of a credible process for determining refugee status and without appropriate participation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The United States strongly opposed Cambodia’s involuntary return of these asylum seekers before their claims have been heard. This incident will affect Cambodia’s relationship with the U.S. and its international standing.

Now that the group has been returned to China, we urge the government of China to uphold international norms and to ensure transparency, due process and proper treatment of persons in its territory. We continue to stress to all parties concerned the importance of respecting human rights and honoring their obligations under international law.

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Open letter on Uighur asylum seekers in Cambodia

Amnesty International: Dec 16 2009 – 11:45pm

To His Excellency Sar Kheng,  Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Cambodia

 Your Excellency

I am writing as a matter of urgency about the safety of 22 ethnic Uighurs from the People’s Republic of China who have recently arrived in Cambodia and are seeking asylum.

Amnesty International understands that the Chinese government has formally requested the Cambodian authorities to send these asylum seekers back to China. We urge you not to return the 22 Uighur asylum seekers and to ensure that they have access to a fair asylum process.

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Ninety Four New Arrests over Ethnic Riots in Urumqi

Friday, 11 December 2009

UNPO is deeply concerned that an additional 94 individuals have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the Urumqi unrest earlier this year, due to reservations about the fairness of the trials that have already taken place.

UNPO has been closely following developments regarding the treatment of Uyghurs in the aftermath of the unrest in Urumqi this summer in which hundreds of people were killed. Hundreds if not thousands of Uyghurs are said to have been arrested in the days that immediately followed the riots in July 2009.The recent arrests of 94 people coincide with the Chinese government’s intensification of their “Strike Hard” policy launched in November this year [2009].

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