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China asked to explain fate of Uighurs from Cambodia

Human Rights Watch has called on Beijing to explain the fate of 20 Uighurs deported from Cambodia a year ago
BEIJING —(AFP) Human Rights Watch has called on Beijing to explain the
fate of 20 Uighurs deported from Cambodia a year ago who had sought
asylum following deadly ethnic violence in China’s far-western Xinjiang
region.
The Uighurs, members of a mainly Muslim minority group
who have complained of oppression in Xinjiang, were handed over to
China despite their application for UN refugee status, after Beijing
had pressed Cambodia for their return.
China said they were
wanted in connection with rioting that erupted in July 2009 in the
Xinjiang capital Urumqi between Uighurs and China’s majority Han ethnic
group that left nearly 200 people dead, according to official tolls.
“Uighurs
deported to China are at clear risk of torture,” Human Rights Watch’s
Asia advocacy director, Sophie Richardson, said in a statement released
Friday in New York, where the group is based.
“China’s failure to account for any of those asylum seekers a year after their forced return is extremely worrying.”
Cambodia’s
decision to deport the Uighurs was quickly followed by a
1.2-billion-dollar aid and loan package from Beijing. China has
rejected accusations of a link between the two.
The Uighurs had
expressed fears of persecution and torture if they were sent home to
China, which implemented a massive security crackdown in Xinjiang
following the violence.
Phnom Penh said the group, which Beijing had labelled as “criminals”, was expelled in line with domestic law.
But
the US, the European Union, the United Nations and rights groups
deplored the move as an apparent breach of an international convention
on refugees.
“Both China and Cambodia should be held accountable
for their flagrant disregard of their obligations under international
law,” Richardson said.
“This case is a stark reminder that no country should deport Uighur asylum seekers back to China.”
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