Saudi authorities prepare to deport 2 Muslim Uyghurs to China: HRW | India is blooming

Beirut, Lebanon: Saudi authorities are apparently preparing to deport two Uyghur Muslims to China, where they are at serious risk of being arbitrarily detained and tortured, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said recently.

Saudi authorities have arbitrarily detained the men since November 2020 without charge or trial.

A knowledgeable source told Human Rights Watch that on January 3, 2022, a Saudi official told one of the detainees, Nurmemet Rozi (Nuermaimei on his Chinese passport), 46, that he “should be mentally prepared to be deported to China in a few moments”. days.”

The other man’s daughter, Turkey-based Hemdullah Abduweli (Aimidoula Waili on her Chinese passport), 54, a religious scholar, posted a video on social media in Arabic saying her father and Rozi are at imminent risk deportation, calling for Saudi Arabia to allow them to return to Turkey where they were residing.

Both men are currently being held in al-Dhahban Mabahith (intelligence) prison north of Jeddah.

“If Saudi Arabia deports these two Uyghur men, it will send a clear message that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese government and its crimes against humanity targeting Turkish Muslims,” ​​said Michael Page, Deputy Director for the Middle East on human rights. Look.

“Deporting people to places where they risk being arbitrarily detained, tortured or worse risks further tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s human rights image around the world,” Page said.

In late 2020, HRW said Saudi authorities should immediately clarify the status of Abduweli and Rozi and disclose the basis for their detention. Abduweli arrived in Saudi Arabia in February 2020 to perform a religious pilgrimage, a Uyghur activist told Human Rights Watch.

He had been in hiding ever since he gave a speech to the Uighur community in which he encouraged Uighurs and Muslims to pray about conditions in China’s Xinjiang region and “repel the Chinese invaders…using weapons “said another source who spoke with Abduweli. .

In early November 2020, Abduweli spoke to Middle East Eye, a London-based online media outlet, saying he feared Chinese authorities had sent a request to Saudi Arabia to detain and deport him.

Middle East Eye has published photos of Abduweli’s Chinese passport, Turkish residence card and Saudi visa information.

Abduweli Ayup, a Uyghur activist with connections to Saudi Arabia’s Uyghur community, said he previously documented five cases in which Saudi Arabia forcibly deported Uyghurs to China in 2017 and 2018.

Uyghurs are Turkish speakers, most of whom are Muslim, and live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. The Chinese government has long been hostile to many expressions of Uyghur identity and has imposed sweeping controls — including religious restrictions — on daily life in Xinjiang.

Since late 2016, the Chinese government has dramatically escalated a crackdown in Xinjiang as part of ostensible counter-terrorism efforts, subjecting the region’s 13 million Turkish Muslims to forced political indoctrination, mass surveillance and harassment. severe movement restrictions.

It is estimated that one million of them were detained in “political education” camps.

These abuses, committed in a widespread and systematic manner, constitute crimes against humanity of unlawful imprisonment; persecution; enforced disappearance; torture; murder; and inhumane acts such as forced labor and sexual violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Much of this repression targets the religious practices of Uyghurs. Uyghurs are detained and prosecuted for studying the Quran, making pilgrimages without state approval, wearing religious clothing and what authorities have called “abnormal” thoughts or behaviors that express “excessive religious fervor “.

An estimated 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang, or 65% of the total, have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies since 2017.

During a visit to China in February 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, appeared to approve of the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Mohammed bin Salman as saying, “We respect and support China’s rights to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security.

Saudi Arabia endorsed joint letters of support for China’s policies in Xinjiang to the United Nations in 2019 and again in 2020.

The Chinese government’s record of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance of Uyghurs, as well as the lack of judicial independence and due process, raises serious concerns that if they are deported to the China, Abduweli and Rozi will be at grave risk of torture and other harm. -processing.

Under the principle of non-refoulement of customary international law and as a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture, Saudi Arabia is obliged to ensure that no one in its custody is forcibly sent in a place where he or she would be at risk of being subjected to persecution, torture or other serious human rights violations.

In recent years, there have been several incidents where Uyghurs have been forcibly returned to China in violation of international law.

In July 2017, Egypt arrested 62 Uyghurs and deported at least 12 to China. In August 2015, Thailand forcibly returned 220 Uighurs to China.

In December 2012, Malaysia deported six Uighurs to China. In all cases, those returned appear to have been victims of enforced disappearance.

Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain further information from the Thai, Malaysian, or Chinese governments about the fate or well-being of the deportees.

“Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman’s apparent endorsement of China’s persecution of Uyghurs is bad enough, but his government should not play a direct role in it by sending Uyghur men back for possible arbitrary detention and torture,” Page said.

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