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Saudi Arabia Must Stop Handing over Uyghur Muslims to Chinese authorities

Together for Justice organisation has warned of the dangers of the Saudi authorities handing over citizens of the Uyghur minority to the authorities in Beijing, due to the persecution and racism that the Uyghur Muslims suffer from, threatening their lives and security.

The Saudi authorities had arrested, 52, Uyghur Hamdallah Abdel Wali (or Imedola Wiley according to the Pinyin on his Chinese passport) on the evening of November 20 in Mecca with his friend Normit Rosi (or Normiti on his Chinese passport). They had been there to perform the Umrah since February, but with the outbreak of the Corona virus they were unable to return to Turkey where they are residing with their families legally.

The two men remained in arbitrary detention until this January, when they were informed on the third of this month that they would be deported outside the country and handed over to the Chinese authorities.

In a distress message sent by Hamdallah’s daughter, the girl appealed to people of conscience in the world, human rights organisations and relevant authorities in the international community to urgently intervene to save her father and his friend, who have been inside the Buriman prison in Jeddah since their arrest, and to take the necessary measures to stop their deportation to China, where arrest, torture and possibly killing would be their fate.

The Uyghurs, who number about 13 million and live in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, are subjected to various types of systematic torture and cruel treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities. According to various statistics, about 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang, equivalent to 65% of their total number, have been destroyed as a result of the government’s repressive policies since 2017.

Furthermore, many of them are detained in camps called “political education” camps, which the Chinese authorities claim are intended to fight terrorism, but in fact aim to wipe off the identity of the Uyghurs and force them to support the government and follow the customs and traditions of the Chinese.

On more than one occasion, the Saudi authorities have expressed their support for the Chinese government’s policies against the Uyghurs, as it signed in 2019 a letter among 37 other countries addressed to the United Nations in which it supports Beijing’s policy towards minorities in the Xinjiang region – the north of the country – where Muslims constitute more of half the population, in response to a letter sent by 22 countries attacking China’s policy in that region.

In addition, Saudi Arabia handed over five Uyghurs to Beijing between 2017 and 2018, in addition to deporting tens of thousands of Tigrays in Ethiopia last year and handing them over to the authorities there, despite the persecution and brutal treatment Uyghurs are subjected to.

The international community and relevant bodies in the United Nations must intervene immediately and urgently and take the necessary measures to prevent the Saudi authorities from handing over Hamdallah Al-Wali and Rosie to the authorities in Beijing, and remind Saudi Arabia that under customary international law and as a party to the “Convention against Torture,” Saudi Arabia must ensure that it does not send any person in their custody to a place where they would be at risk of persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations.

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