Saudi Arabia halts deportation of four Uyghurs, including 13-year-old
Plans to deport four Uyghurs, including a 13-year-old girl, from Saudi Arabia to China were aborted on Wednesday, according to Amnesty International.
Alkan Akad, a China researcher for Amnesty, told The New Arab that the deportation “didn’t go through”, but stressed that the four individuals still remain at “high risk”.
The rights group is not sure why the extradition was halted at the last minute.
Aimidoula Waili and Nuermaimaiti Ruze, two men detained since November 2020; Buheliqiemu Abula, the former wife of Nuermaimaiti; and the 13-year-old girl “will almost certainly face arbitrary detention and persecution” if they are sent back to China, said Akad.
The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress expressed similar concerns.
“This is an unconscionable violation of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under international law,” Akad said. The kingdom “needs to stop all the deportations” and be “reminded of their international obligations,” he added.
Waili and Ruze, who have residency in Turkey, travelled to Saudi Arabia for a religious pilgrimage. They have been detained for almost 17 months without charge.
Recently, the mother and daughter were detained. Amnesty released a statement on Wednesday warning they were told to prepare to board a flight bound to Guangzhou.
China has systematically persecuted members of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region for several years, orchestrating a policy of mass surveillance, detention and torture which human rights groups have called "genocide".
Saudi Arabia, an economic ally of Beijing, has forcibly detained or deported at least eight Uyghurs since 2001, according to a report published last month from the Uyghur Human Rights Project and the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs.
The report, “Beyond Silence” estimated that 292 Uyghurs have been detained or deported from Arab states at China's behest since 2001, which “virtually guarantee[s] immediate detention in a concentration camp”.
The 49-page document argues that countries like Saudi Arabia have shifted from a policy of “silence” over Uyghur persecution to “complicity”.