PRESS RELEASE: Uyghur Man Under Direct Threat of Deportation from United Arab Emirates
The World Uyghur Congress expresses serious concern for the well-being of Mr. Abudujilili Supi, an ethnic Uyghur man who was recently arrested in the United Arab Emirates on unclear charges, now at imminent risk of deportation to China where he would be at certain risk of arbitrary detention and possible torture.
27-year old Abudujilili Supi has lived in Sharjah, UAE, a city close to Dubai, on a three-year residence permit since his arrival in March, 2017 from Egypt. He has worked since his arrival as a muezzin at the Abdullah bin Rawaha mosque, until he was arrested by plainclothes police on the afternoon of September 20, 2018. No communication is now possible, compounding the risks of forced deportation.
If Mr. Supi were forcibly deported back to China, he would almost certainly be immediately detained without charge and sent to a political indoctrination camp in the Uyghur region for his travel abroad – one of the primary criteria for detention in the camps.
Illustrating the seriousness of the situation on the ground for Uyghurs in China, German and Swedish Migration Agencies have already taken the recent step of halting all deportations of Uyghurs to China until further notice, citing safety concerns.
Since the spring of 2017, the Chinese government began rounding up and arresting Uyghurs and holding them without charge in political indoctrination centers – one of the primary targets of these detentions are those who have relatives abroad or have spent time outside the country. It is for this reason that forced return from abroad will almost certainly lead to detention in the camps.
Nearly every member of the Uyghur diaspora has now lost all contact with family and friends in the region. Estimates in mid-May 2018 put the total number of those detained at around one million people. The camps have widely reported in international media and by the UN bodies including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, national governments and human rights groups.
Over 300 Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers have disappeared after being sent back to China from 16 different countries over the past 15 years. The concluding observations of UN CERD’s review of China and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances have both expressed their concern at the trend of disappearances of Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers after being returned to China.
President of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, said of the case, “We’ve seen these cases repeat themselves for years and they never end positively when Uyghurs are returned against their will. It’s absolutely imperative that he is not sent back to China.” He continued by saying, “All governments must resist pressure from China and uphold international law.”
There is a growing body of evidence compiled by the World Uyghur Congress as well as other human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) and journalists with direct contact with former inmates in the camps showing that torture is widespread. Numerous cases have documented torture in the camps and previous reporting shows that torture has been widespread outside of these facilities, in prisons, for many years.
Given the treatment of Uyghurs in China at present, Uyghurs returned from abroad are no longer safe. It is therefore incumbent upon the international community to ensure that Uyghurs abroad are properly protected, while speaking out loudly on the human rights crisis inside the country.