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WUC Strongly Condemns New Extradition of Uyghurs from Pakistan to China

Press release – For immediate release
11 August 2011
Contact:  World Uyghur Congress
Tel. 0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or e-mail [email protected]

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent extradition of five ethnic Uyghurs, among them one woman and two children, from Pakistan to China where they will face harsh punishment. Uyghurs who have been extradited to China in the past, were detained, imprisoned, sentenced, tortured, executed or disappeared after their return to China.

The five people, blindfolded and handcuffed, were brought on 9 August 2011 to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport where they boarded a flight of China’s Southern Airline for Urumqi, East Turkestan, between 8-9 p.m. (local time). According to local sources, another Uyghur, Abduxur Ablmit (Abdushukur Ablimit), who was to accompany his compatriots, was taken from the plane before the departure for unknown reasons. The deportees were taken to the plane through a special gate meant for VIPs. According to media reports, the woman was identified as Manzokra Mamad (Menzire Memet) who was accompanied by a minor girl and a boy.

The extradition of the five people comes less than two weeks after the violent incidents in Kashgar. According to state-controlled Chinese media, on 30 and 31 July 2011 at least 14 people were killed and 42 injured in two separate incidents in Kashgar. In addition, on 18 July 2011, Chinese security forces brutally and lethally cracked down on Uyghur demonstrators in the city of Hotan, killing at least 20 people. The Chinese government responded to the Hotan and Kashgar incidents by ordering a full-scale security clampdown on East Turkestan, as well as a curb on “illegal religious activities.”

Instead of recognizing that the root causes of these incidents lie within the discriminatory policies against the Uyghur population, including mass arrests, detention and executions and the destruction of historical Uyghur sites like Kashgar, China blamed the Kashgar attacks on Uyghurs that were said to be part of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and trained in neighboring Pakistan. However, academics, scholars and Uyghur groups in exile have raised serious doubts about the existence of ETIM, which China considers a terrorist organization. All evidences on the existence of ETIM have been presented by Chinese sources whose credibility has to be taken with a lot of precaution. Chinese security forces shot dead two Uyghurs, Memtieli Tiliwaldi and Tursun Hesen, allegedly behind the Kashgar violence. Despite having the opportunity to capture the two men alive, Chinese authorities opted to kill them on the spot, sending not only a clear message to the Uyghur population in East Turkestan that any form of dissent would not be tolerated, but also preventing to get more information on the reason behind the attack and on ETIM itself.

After the Kashgar incident, Pakistan, which has as long been a close ally of China, immediately stated that it would extend its full support to China against ETIM. Although the reasons for the deportation of the five people could not be ascertained, the WUC believes that Pakistani authorities acted on the request of the Chinese government in order to underline the positive relations between the two countries.

By extraditing these individuals to China, Pakistan violated the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) which prohibits parties from returning, extraditing or refouling any person to a state “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

“China is notorious for ill-treatment and torture in detention and no matter what these people are accused of, Pakistan should not have deported them back to China”, said the leader of the Uyghur Human Rights Movement Rebiya Kadeer. “In addition, China also has a track record of publicly executing, torturing and imprisoning Uyghurs who have been forcibly sent back from Pakistan.”

A part from the deportation, Pakistan is violating the basic human rights of Uyghurs living within the country.  For example, in June 2011, the brothers Akbar and Omer Osman, who co-founded a charity to teach Pakistani Uyghurs their own language in the northern city of Rawalpindi, were prevented from  traveling abroad to attend an international Uyghur conference in Washington, DC. They were clearly told that the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad asked Pakistani officials to not allow them to travel.

Only two and a half month ago, on 30 May 2011, the Kazakh authorities handed Uyghur refugee Ershidin Israel over to China in severe violation of international law standards. Israel remains disappeared until today.  In December 2009, Cambodia extradited 20 Uyghurs back to China and their whereabouts are still unknown.