August 29, 2017

 

On the United Nations International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30), UHRP calls on the Chinese government to come clean about Uyghurs missing after the 2009 unrest in Urumchi and to reveal the whereabouts of Uyghur students forcibly returned from Egypt.

“It is time for the Chinese authorities to demonstrate responsibility for the enforced disappearances that occurred in Urumchi in 2009. This issue is not only about state accountability, but also the Chinese government’s moral fitness. For the state to disappear individuals constitutes one of the most egregious of human rights abuses. China must acknowledge its actions and make suitable redress to the victims and their families,” said UHRP Director, Omer Kanat.

Mr. Kanat added: “Instances of forced disappearance among Uyghurs did not end with the Urumchi unrest. Since the enforced return of Uyghur students from Egypt this year, there has been little to no information as to their whereabouts and condition. Such actions constitute a violation of the fundamental human rights of these individuals and China’s disregard for international rights standards in this case should not be cast aside by the international community.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in 2010 and its commemoration highlights the lasting social consequences of forced disappearances. The United Nations writes: “Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and society as a whole.”

In the eight years since the Urumchi unrest questions remain over enforced disappearances of Uyghurs. A report issued by Human Rights Watch in October 2009 documented large-scale sweep operations conducted by security forces in two predominantly Uyghur areas of Urumchi beginning July 6. Human Rights Watch’s report recorded enforced disappearances of 43 Uyghur men. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called the documented disappearances the “tip of the iceberg.”

In a 2013 report, UHRP collated research on Uyghurs disappeared in the wake of the 2009 Urumchi arrest, including testimonies gathered by Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service. The 2013 report named the following Uyghurs as missing:

 

Imammemet Eli                                Amantay Jumatay                                   Emetjan Juma

Abahun Supur                                  Memtimin Yasin                                     Turdimemet Tursunniyaz

Turghun Obulqasim                         Eysajan Emet                                         Abdureyim Abla

Memetabla Abdureyim                     Bekri Tohti                                             Juma Tursun

Zakir Memet                                     Abdugheni Eziz                                     Abdureyim Qadir

Muhtar Mehet                                   Abdusemet Ablet                                   Alimjan Bekri

Tursunjan Tohti                                 Nabijan Eli                                            Abdulla Sulayman

Alim Abdureyim                                Abdureyim Sidiq                                    Abliz Qadir

Memet Barat                                     Tursunjan Tohti

Alimjan Heyrulhaji                             Yusup Turghun

 

In 2017, Egyptian authorities began rounding up Uyghur students in Cairo at China’s request. According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report dated July 7, 2017, over 200 students had been indiscriminately detained. In the same report, RFA spoke to Uyghurs in Egypt who expressed fear over their return to China because “everyone who went back to China in the past few months has disappeared without a trace.” In a July 7, 2017 statement, Human Rights Watch stressed the Uyghurs’ legal right to remain in Egypt and the authorities’ denial of legal representation. Human Rights Watch added: “China’s record of arbitrary detention, torture, and the enforced disappearance of Uyghurs, as well as the politicized nature of judicial proceedings in past cases of forced repatriation, raises serious concerns that if deported, these individuals will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”

UHRP calls on China to reveal the whereabouts and condition of the above-named Uyghurs and the Uyghurs forcibly returned from Egypt. UHRP also calls on China to meet international human rights standards protecting individuals from enforced disappearance. UHRP believes international pressure should be applied on China to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance; ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and realize the rights outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.