Muslim Wire

China “Disappeared” Uighur Detainees: HRW

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 21, 2009

CAIRO – Dozens of Uighurs have disappeared following their detention by Chinese forces in the wake of the deadly unrest in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, the Human Rights Watch said.

“The cases we documented are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said in a press release by the New York-based group on Wednesday, October 21.

The 44-page report documents, through witness accounts, the disappearance of 43 Uighur men and teenagers after being taken into police custody in the provincial capital Urumqi.

“They said that my son had taken part in the protests,” Nazira N., a father, told HRW.

“I asked when they would bring him back, but they just said they would inquire and return him.”

To date the Chinese security authorities are refusing to give him information about his 16-year-old son Karim-Ahun K.

“I went to the local police station more than 10 times, but every time they said that they would inquire and if he is innocent they would bring him back.

“They say the same thing every time, but so far he hasn’t come back, and I have no idea where he is.”

The unrest, which ravaged the Muslim-majority western region in July, was sparked by the killing of two Uighur men in a brawl at a toy factory.

Frustrated Uighurs took to the streets of Urumqi protesting the lack of justice, restrictions and the settlement of Han Chinese in their region.

Clashes with the Han Chinese minority turned bloody, leaving 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to the government.

Following the clashes, security authorities mounted raids against Uighur-dominated neighborhoods, detaining scores of people on charges of rioting.

It has so far sentenced 12 Uighurs to death in trials mocked by international human rights organizations.

Accountability

The HRW criticized the Chinese government and demanded accountability.

“‘Disappearing’ people is not the behavior of countries aspiring to global leadership,” Adams said.

“The Chinese government says it respects the rule of law, but nothing could undermine this claim more than taking people from their homes or off the street and ‘disappearing’ them – leaving their families unsure whether they are dead or alive.”

The HRW Asia director urged the international community to press China for clear answers about the fate of the “disappeared” people.

“The United States, the European Union and China’s other international partners should demand clear answers about what happened to those who have disappeared in Xinjiang,” Adams stressed.

“They should not let trade relations or other political considerations lead them to treat China differently than other countries which carry out this horrific practice.”

Resources-rich Xinjiang and its Uighur Muslims, a Turkic-speaking minority of nearly eight million, continue to be the subject of massive clampdowns.

They accuse the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.

They also cite a recent government plan that has brought the teaching of Mandarin Chinese in Xinjiang schools, replacing their local dialect.

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