One Year Later, Whereabouts of Deported Uighurs Still Unknown | Freedom House

One Year Later, Whereabouts of Deported Uighurs Still Unknown

Washington

Freedom Houses urges the Chinese government to reveal the whereabouts of 20 Uighurs deported from Cambodia one year ago. At the time of the deportation, Chinese officials promised to deal with the Uighurs in a transparent manner. However, a year later, no information has been released about their location or well-being.

On December 19, 2009, Cambodian authorities deported back to China 20 Uighurs who had been seeking asylum in Cambodia. Most members of the group, which included a woman and two children, had fled to Cambodia in October 2009, fearing persecution amid the Chinese security crackdown in Xinjiang in the aftermath of ethnic violence in July of that year. Chinese authorities accused the individuals of being involved in the violence that took place in Urumqi but have not provided evidence to support such claims. Rather, before being deported, several of the asylum seekers reportedly revealed details of violence committed by Chinese security forces against Uighurs, raising concerns that the Chinese authorities sought the Uighurs’ deportation to silence their eyewitness accounts.  Two days after the deportation, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Cambodia and concluded 14 deals with the Cambodian government worth approximately $1 billion.

"Enforced disappearance is one of the most inhumane human rights violations as families have no way of knowing the fate of their loved ones," says David J. Kramer, Executive Director at Freedom House. "Freedom House urges the international community to increase pressure on the Chinese authorities to immediately reveal the whereabouts of these 20 Uighurs and others who have disappeared since July 2009."

The incident reflects a wider pattern of enforced disappearances of Uighurs. The July 2009 clashes were followed by a harsh crackdown that included large-scale disappearances of Uighurs, with Human Rights Watch documenting at least 40 individual cases. More recently, Beijing-based Uighur academic and blogger, Ilham Tohti was reportedly detained in early December as were his wife and two sons, both under the age of five.

China is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.

To learn more about China, visit:

Freedom in the World 2010: China

Freedom of the Press 2010: China

The Dark Side of China Aid

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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.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.