Investigation reveals China's 'black sites' used to detain Uyghurs in UAE

Investigation reveals China's 'black sites' used to detain Uyghurs in UAE
An investigation by Sky News has revealed China's use of 'black sites' to detain Uyghurs in Dubai, with several not being seen alive after visiting the Gulf emirate.
4 min read
09 February, 2022
Uyghurs living abroad have disappeared after being targeted by Chinese agents [Getty]

China is using "black sites" in the UAE to entrap and detain Uyghurs living abroad, an investigation by the UK broadcaster Sky News has found.

The report found that Uyghurs living abroad had "simply vanished" after being detained in third countries by Chinese police and security agents and said that Dubai in particular had become a centre for Chinese agents to lure and detain Uyghurs.

It revealed details of several cases where Uyghurs were detained at Dubai airport by Chinese agents, including Wang Jingyu, a young man who had expressed support online for protesters in Hong Kong and criticised the Chinese army.

Wang was living in Turkey at the time and had received death threats from Chinese men while staying there. His parents were also detained in China.

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Fearing for his life, he arranged to go to the US via Dubai. However at Dubai airport, two officers detained him at the departure gate.

He was allowed to make a phone call to his girlfriend, Wu Huan.

 "I asked her to come to Dubai to pay the lawyer, do something, help me," Wang told Sky News.

When Wu arrived, she was first taken to a police station, then to a detention centre, and then a villa.

"They took me to a normal-looking villa. But inside, it was separated into many small single rooms and the rooms were locked by iron doors, like a prison," she told Sky News.

She found that other Uyghurs had been locked up in the detention facility in a villa, which she believed to be on the outskirts of Dubai.

One girl, who Wu said "looked like she was from Xinjiang". She shouted: "Why have you locked me up? I want to return to Turkey."

Wang Jingyu and Wu Huan said that Chinese officials came to question them in Dubai. Both alleged that China's Consul-General in Dubai, Li Xuhang, had taken part in the questioning.

Wang claims that the consul had asked him to sign a document allowing Chinese officials to transfer him to the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

However, human rights activists from the US intervened to secure Wu and Wang's release.


Wives know nothing about their husbands' fate

The Sky News investigation also looked at the case of Nigare Yusup, whose husband Hussein was detained by Turkish authorities after fleeing to the country from China, where hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are believed to have been detained due to their cultural and religious beliefs.

The Turkish authorities said that he had no right to live in Turkey and transported him to a deportation centre in the east of the country.

He was visited by Chinese police officers at the centre who told him he would either have to spy on other Uyghurs in Turkey or be sent back to China.

However, Hassan asked the Turkish authorities to deport him to Dubai instead of China, planning for Nigare to join him there and for the two of them to travel from Dubai to Europe.

But Nigare has not heard from her husband since October 2017, when he was deported to the emirate.

"He called me, not via WhatsApp because calling on that platform is forbidden in Dubai, he can only send voice messages," Nigare told Sky News.

"He told me, 'the Chinese police is looking for me. Maybe I will be caught. I do not know what my fate is.

"'I entrust my children with you. I am ashamed of the situation and for leaving you unprotected.'"

These were the last words Hassan said, according to Nigare.

"You can mourn someone when they die, the pain passes but a man, husband, father-of-two disappears all of a sudden. Did he die, is he alive? Where is he? I know nothing," she added.


Another Uyghur woman interviewed by Sky News, Amannisa Abdula, said that her husband Ahmed had not been seen alive since February 2018, when the couple went on a shopping trip to Dubai with their son. Amannisa was pregnant at the time.

Ahmed was detained at a police station and a lawyer told her that Interpol had ordered the detention.

The UK broadcaster said that all the cases it had looked into had a link to the UAE, pointing out the Gulf country's strong trade links with China.

The UAE has signed up to China's "Belt and Road" initiative and has an extradition treaty with China.

Sky News added that other Arab countries had "participated in China's transnational repression campaign" and estimated that around 292 Uyghurs had been deported from Arab countries to China since 2001.