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China demands Malaysia repatriate Uyghurs

Hong Kong (UCAN): “We must remember that the Uyghurs in question have been held at immigration detention facilities for nearly four years now without charge or access to legal representation—an egregiously long time to spend effectively in limbo after escaping China,” Peter Irwin, a project manager for the World Uyghur Congress, said regarding the fate of 11 Uyghurs in Malaysia who face possible c to China.
The group was among 20 who escaped a detention centre in Thailand last year having originally been detained in 2015 along with some 200 other Uyghur asylum seekers from China. Beijing has been demanding their return.
Given the fact the Malaysian government detained three Turkish nationals in May last year before forcibly deported them, it may be likely that the same fate awaits the Uyghur asylum seekers, 
Malaysia is currently in talks with Thailand regarding the issue, but neither side has at this time reached a resolution.
“There is no justification for continuing to hold these men in custody and they should be allowed to move to a safe third country according to international law,” Irwin said.
A United States State Department spokesperson voiced disquiet on February 8 over China’s pressure on Malaysia, telling Reuters in an email that, “We are concerned by media reports regarding Malaysia’s possible deportation of (Uyghur) individuals to China.”
Human rights abuses in China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region reach far and wide under the iron grip of Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary of the area.
Chen has come down particularly hard on Islam, along with tracking people’s phones, vehicles and movements.
He has also instigated the proliferation of re-education camps, where people are interned and often forced to denounce their religion and customs and are instead exposed to Chinese propaganda.
Human Rights Watch has also called on the Malaysian government not to expel the Uyghur asylum seekers.
“Uyghurs forcibly returned to China face credible threats of imprisonment and torture, so it’s critical that Malaysia does not forcibly expel to China anyone the Chinese claim is a Uyghur,” Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said in a February 9 statement.
The Malaysian Bar Association has warned that forcible deportation of the asylum seekers to China, would contravene customary international law which ensures that those in custody are not sent to a place where they would be subjected to major human rights violations.
In December 2012, Malaysia deported six Uyghurs back to China despite the fact that all six had refugee status determinations under review with the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In 2014, some 200 Uyghurs who escaped China and were heading to Turkey, were intercepted in Thailand’s southern Songkhla province. One hundred were forcibly returned 100 to China that same year.
The Berlin-based World Uyghur Congress is an international organisation of exiled Uyghurs lobbying for the Muslim ethnic minority’s collective interests.

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