Supporto internazionale ai 22 Uiguri rifugiati in Cambodia

L’associazione americana Uiguri (UAA) è preoccupata per la situazione dei 22 Uiguri che hanno abbandonato la Cina per cercare rifugio in Cambodia sulla scia dell’agitazione nel Turkestan orientale di luglio. I 22 Uiguri, tra cui tre bambini, sono scappati dalla Cina grazie ad una rete segreta di missionari.

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is concerned about the situation of 22 Uyghurs seeking refuge in Cambodia who fled China in the wake of unrest in East Turkestan in July. The 22 Uyghurs, including three children, escaped China through a network of underground missionaries. UAA urges international government organizations and NGOs, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to ensure the safety of the 22 men, women and children and prevent their repatriation to China. UAA fears that, if deported to China, they would be subject to severe persecution, including possible execution, from Chinese authorities.

According to reports, the Uyghurs have sought protection from the UNHCR at its offices in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Two of those seeking asylum reported having witnessed security forces killing and beating Uyghur demonstrators on July 5, 2009 in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan. In a statement to UNHCR quoted by Radio Free Asia (RFA), Mutellip Mamut expressed fears that, if returned to China, he would be sentenced to life imprisonment or given the death penalty on false charges because of his documentation of police abuses against Uyghur demonstrators.

RFA’s report cites asylum seeker Islam Urayim as asserting that Chinese authorities had misrepresented the truth about events on July 5, by covering up news about shootings and killings of Uyghurs, and only publicizing acts of violence committed by Uyghurs.

Members of the group said two Uyghurs were stopped by police when they tried to cross over the Vietnamese border with Cambodia in October, and five Uyghurs who had planned to leave China for Vietnam in the same month remain unaccounted for. They said that 31 other Uyghurs had been detained by Chinese authorities in southern and central China for trying to flee the country or for allegedly helping others to flee the country.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman told thWashington Post that Beijing wanted the Uyghurs in Cambodia to be returned to China. UAA’s concern over the safety and well-being of the 22 Uyghurs in Cambodia, a country with close ties to China, is compounded by the recent executions of nine Uyghurs who were convicted of charges related to the July 5 unrest after undergoing unfair trials. In addition, Cambodia has been criticized by human rights groups for repatriating Vietnamese asylum seekers.

Both Cambodia and China are parties to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1984 Convention on Torture. These conventions forbid the return of people to their home countries if they would likely be subjected to persecution, torture or execution there.

Background information on Uyghur refugees

Every year many Uyghurs flee East Turkestan, fearing for their safety and even their lives. Many Uyghurs seek refuge in the neighboring Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as a result of long-standing cultural and linguistic links between these countries and East Turkestan.

However, China’s expanding political and economic influence in the region means that Uyghurs are far from safe in second countries neighboring East Turkestan. China has exerted significant political pressure on Central Asian states through the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and has increased its calls on these states to limit the scope of Uyghur activists’ activities since September 11 under the pretext of the “global war on terror”.

China has forged close “anti-terror” links with several countries under the auspices of the SCO, and has signed extradition treaties with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Numerous Uyghurs have “disappeared” or been extradited from these countries in recent years. Little reliable information is available on their fate upon being returned to Chinese authorities.

Even states with which the Chinese government does not have formal extradition agreements are subject to intense pressure to return Uyghur asylum seekers. For instance, in late 2001 and early 2002, the Nepalese authorities forcibly returned at least two Uyghurs – possibly three – to the Chinese authorities in East Turkestan. One of these men, Shirali, was executed in or around October 2003.

Of particular concern is the fact that Shirali had already been recognized by the UN High Commission for Refugees in Kathmandu as a person in need of protection, and issued with a refugee reference number. Although Nepal is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the principle of non-refoulement remains a key provision in international customary law. Despite this, pressure exerted by the Chinese government upon Nepal was apparently sufficient to ensure that Shirali was forcibly returned to China and executed.

Fonte: UAA, 5 dicembre 2009

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