Sep 01, 2011

East Turkestan: US Seeks Answers on Deportations

After last week’s mass deportations from several Asian and Southeast Asian countries, US lawmakers have criticized Malaysian authorities and have called on Beijing to disclose the deportees current location.

Below is an article published by Agence France Presse:

Two senior US lawmakers on Wednesday [insert date] criticized Malaysia for sending 11 ethnic Uighurs back to China and urged Beijing to reveal the group's whereabouts.

Republican Representative Chris Smith and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China which looks at Beijing's policies, also urged Malaysia not to deport five Uighur asylum-seekers still in custody.

"Tragically, the deported Uighur men face the real threat of torture, arbitrary detention and abuse back in China," Brown said in a statement.

"The Chinese government has long waged a harsh campaign of suppression in Xinjiang that violates international law and it appears to have conscripted its neighbors to help carry out its oppressive policies," he said.

Smith urged China to "respect the asylum seeker and refugee designations" of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and to "ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of all its citizens."

Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim minority in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Many allege political and religious repression by China and say that migration by China's Han majority is swamping their culture.

China insists it has improved living conditions in the remote region. A Malaysian police officer earlier defended the August 18 deportations, saying that the Uighurs were involved in a human-smuggling syndicate.

Cambodia and Pakistan have also recently forcibly returned Uighurs, while Thai authorities in August turned over a Uighur man to Chinese authorities in Bangkok, according to exiled activists.