Hong Kong: The government must provide the whereabouts of an airport-detained Uyghur student.

A Uyghur student who has been missing since arriving in Hong Kong from South Korea earlier this month must be identified, according to Amnesty International, who also expressed concern that he may have been arbitrarily extradited to mainland China without due process and is now in danger of being subjected to torture.

Since sending a buddy a text message on May 10, Abuduwaili Abudureheman has gone silent. Abudureheman said in the message that when he arrived at Hong Kong airport, Chinese authorities were questioning him.

According to Alkan Akad, China Researcher for Amnesty International, “the unknown fate of Abuduwaili Abudureheman is deeply worrying, given the background of crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, and its ongoing pursuit of Uyghurs who have traveled overseas.”

“The fact that Abuduwaili appears to have been detained and questioned upon arrival raises concerns about the potential involvement of the Hong Kong government in human rights abuses being committed by the Chinese government against Uyghurs.”

Abuduwaili Abudureheman was born in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, in the city of Karamay. He has spent the previous seven years studying in Seoul, where he will graduate in 2022 with a PhD in the Sports Industry and Leisure. His acquaintance characterized him as a quiet, dedicated student with football as his favorite pastime.

Abuduwaili traveled to Hong Kong on May 10, 2023, to meet a friend. However, he hasn’t been seen or heard from since that evening, when he texted that Chinese authorities were questioning him at the airport. The buddy became more worried about Abuduwaili’s safety before making his absence public.

According to Amnesty International, Abuduwaili’s presence on a Chinese government “watch list” of Uyghurs and other Muslims from the Xinjiang area was due to his prior international travel. Amnesty International has recorded multiple incidents in which the Chinese government arbitrarily detained Uyghurs incommunicado, imprisoned them for extended periods of time, and subjected them to torture only because they had left China.

For the purpose of silencing opposition or possibly ordering their return, the Chinese government has increased its pursuit and threat of victims outside of Chinese territory. In rare instances, the Chinese government has asked foreign nations to imprison Chinese Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims in order to return them to China. If the person is in actual danger of being tortured or subjected to other grave human rights abuses, such extradition is against the UN Convention Against Torture and basic international law.

Abuduwaili Abudureheman, who has not been in touch with family members in more than two weeks and is in great danger of being tortured because of his nationality and religion, must be found immediately, according to the Hong Kong authorities. If he is imprisoned, he must have access to a lawyer and his family and be shielded from any cruel treatment, according to Alkan Akad.

“Abuduwaili Abudureheman must be immediately released unless there is sufficient and concrete evidence pointing to an internationally recognized crime.”

China’s assault on Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, conducted out under the pretense of combating terrorism, has been well-documented since 2017. According to a thorough investigation published by Amnesty International in 2021, the systematic state-organized mass detention, torture, and persecution carried out by Chinese authorities constituted crimes against humanity. A study released in August 2022 by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights corroborated many of Amnesty’s conclusions.

More than 126 people have been profiled as part of Amnesty International’s Free Xinjiang Detainees campaign, who are among the million or more people believed to be being held arbitrarily in Xinjiang’s internment camps and jails.

On July 1, 1997, China reclaimed control of Hong Kong, although the “one country, two systems” framework is still in effect. Immigration management is handled independently by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In order to allow Hong Kong to engage in “special surrender arrangements” with mainland China, the then-Chief Executive submitted an amendment law in 2019. After an unexpected surge of widespread protests erupted in the city, the project was shelved.

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