Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Laos deported Uighur asylum seekers: report

Laos deported Uighur asylum seekers: report

Laos deported Uighur asylum seekers: report

Laotian authorities reportedly deported an ethnic Uighur asylum seeker and his family to China in March, three months after 20 of his compatriots were forcibly deported by Cambodian authorities.

The new information – contained in a recent media report – comes a year after Cambodia’s controversial deportation of the Uighurs, which triggered a firestorm of criticism from rights activists and foreign governments.

Last week, Radio Free Asia reported that Memet Eli Rozi, 34, his 28-year-old wife Gulbahar Sadiq and their five children were expelled from Laos in March.

Rozi was reportedly one of the 22 Uighurs who entered Cambodia in search of asylum in late 2009, after fleeing ethnic rioting in China’s Xinjiang province in July.

The report claims he was one of just two of the group who managed to escape before their deportation from Cambodia on December 19.

After his escape from Cambodia, Rozi secretly entered Laos and later asked his family to join him from Guangzhou in southern China, according to an interview with Gulbahar Sadiq.

The family were apprehended by Laotian authorities upon arrival, she told RFA, and were deported to China where they were interrogated by Xinjiang officials for 32 days.

The article claims Memet Eli Rozi’s current location is unknown, while his wife and children have been released to their hometown in the west of the province.

The news falls close to the first anniversary of Cambodia’s deportation of the 20 Uighurs, a move which many rights groups have linked to Beijing’s approval of US$1.2 billion in loans and investment to Cambodia the same week.

In a statement on Friday, Human Rights Watch called Chinese officials to account for the whereabouts of the Uighurs, saying the government had “consistently refused” to provide information about their status and well-being.

“Uighurs deported to China are at clear risk of torture,” Sophie Richardson, HRW’s Asia advocacy director, said in the statement. “China’s failure to account for any of those asylum seekers a year after their forced return is extremely worrying.”

She said the case was “a stark reminder that no country should deport Uighur asylum seekers back to China”.

Ma Zhaoxu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a written statement to The New York Times in February that China was a country “ruled by law” and was set to implement it in the case of the Uighurs, who were set to stand trial for committing “criminal” acts.

No other information has since been given on the fate of the 20 Uighurs, nor of Memet Eli Rozi and the other Uighur from Cambodia whose whereabouts are still unknown.

In a statement on Thursday, Jesuit Refugee Services, which helped the Uighurs during their ill-fated asylum bid, said the deportees would likely have faced harsh treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

It stated that one of the Uighur men had spoken to JRS about “the daily beatings and torture” he suffered whilst in a labour camp in China.

“While in Cambodia he spoke publicly about this persecution and for this reason it is likely that upon return he has either been executed, imprisoned or again subjected to the horrors of re-education through labour.

“We call on the international community to stand vigilant against forced returns on this sad anniversary,” JRS said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman