Freedom House Condemns Kazakhstan’s Decision to Deport Uyghur Refugee | Page 71 | Freedom House

Freedom House Condemns Kazakhstan’s Decision to Deport Uyghur Refugee

Washington

Freedom House condemns Kazakhstan’s decision to deport Ershidin Israil, a Uyghur schoolteacher who fled China in the summer of 2009 after ethnic riots in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Israil has been designated a refugee by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Chinese authorities accuse him of “terrorism” for speaking out about the death in custody of a fellow Uyghur at the hands of Chinese security forces. Media reports indicate that Israil is now in custody and his deportation imminent.

“It is unacceptable that a person who has been accorded refugee status by the UNHCR should be forced to return to a country where he is likely to face harsh treatment and possibly torture,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. “The Kazakh authorities have an international obligation to grant protection to those who seek refuge in their country and it has shamefully shirked its duty. The UN should further investigate Mr. Israil’s case and reform its own procedures to more fully protect refugees from these types of situations in the future.”

Israil’s deportation highlights a disturbing trend of China’s influence in the region to pressure neighboring governments to repatriate members of persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, despite international legal norms prohibiting the return of an individual to a country where he or she may be tortured.

In April 2009, Pakistan extradited as many as nine Uyghurs to China after accusing them of involvement in “terrorist activities.” Later that year, 20 Uyghur asylum seekers fleeing the crackdown following the ethnic violence in Xinjiang were deported from Cambodia. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

In each instance, Chinese authorities accused the individuals of involvement in terrorist activities, but did not provide evidence to support such claims. In several of the cases, asylum seekers had reportedly revealed details of human rights violations committed by Chinese security forces against the Uyghur community. 



The Chinese government has shown an increased willingness to use its growing military, diplomatic, and economic power in Asia to quell dissent and restrict activities of minorities beyond its borders—including Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Falun Gong adherents.

Kazakhstan is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

China is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

For more information on Kazakhstan visit:
 
Freedom of the Press 2010: Kazakhstan

For more information on China, visit:
 
Worst of the Worst Report: China

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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