Uyghurs deported to China at risk of 'torture' says HRW

Uyghurs at risk of deportation from Saudi Arabia to China likely to face 'arbitrary detention and torture', HRW warns
2 min read
11 January, 2022
Human Rights Watch issued a stark warning Monday that if Saudi Arabia decides to deport two Muslim Uyghurs to China, then 'they are at serious risk of arbitrary detention and torture'.
Deporting the two Uyghurs to China 'risks further tarnishing Saudi Arabia's global human rights image', said HRW [Getty]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that two Uyghur Muslims who reportedly face deportation from Saudi Arabia to China "are at risk of arbitrary detention and torture" in a statement Monday. 

The US-based watchdog said the two men, residents of Turkey, have been detained in Saudi Arabia since November 2020. 

Nurmemet Rozi, 46, was told by a Saudi official in early January that he "should be mentally prepared to be deported to China in a few days", according to HRW.

Meanwhile, the daughter of Hemdullah Abduweli, 54, posted a video stating that her father and Rozi are at imminent risk of deportation. In the footage, she appealed to Saudi authorities to allow them to come to Turkey instead of China, where Uyghur communities have been systematically persecuted and incarcerated by authorities in the Xinjiang region. 

"If Saudi Arabia deports these two Uyghur men, it will be sending a clear message that it stands arm-in-arm with the Chinese government and its crimes against humanity targeting Turkic Muslims," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch. 

Abduweli, also known as Aimadoula Waili, originally came to Saudi Arabia in February 2020 on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.

The religious scholar, who has spoken out against the persecution of Uyghurs, went into hiding after allegations surfaced that the Chinese consulate in Riyadh requested his deportation. 

Rozi was arrested alongside his friend Abduweli in the city of Mecca. 

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There have been five previous cases of Uyghurs being forcibly deported by Saudi authorities to China in 2017 and 2018, according to Uyghur activist Abduweli Ayup quoted by HRW. 

Ayup posted a video on Twitter Monday of Uyghurs in Istanbul, including Abduweli's daughter, protesting against the deportation of the two men in front of the Saudi consulate. The daughter shouts: "Free My Father", Ayup wrote on social media. 

The Chinese government has long discriminated against and systematically abused Uyghur communities, including the use of forced political indoctrination, mass surveillance and severe movement restrictions.

Up to 1 million Uyghurs and other minorities are thought to have been detained by China, which says it is attempting to stamp out radicalisation.