Archive for Sunday, December 20, 2009

Uighur asylum-seekers sent back to China

December 20, 2009

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— Cambodia deported a group of 20 Muslim asylum-seekers back to China, despite protests from the U.S. and the U.N., which rushed people to the airport in an attempt to physically prevent their expulsion.

As the Uighurs were put in a compound under constant guard in recent days, exile and rights groups grew increasingly nervous that Cambodia would give in to considerable pressure from Beijing, the Southeast Asian nation’s largest foreign investor. The decision to expel them finally was announced on the eve of a visit from Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

Amnesty International warned the Uighurs could be tortured on their return to China, while analysts and exile groups said the deportation showed widespread problems with the refugee system at large.

The Uighurs fled after ethnic rioting in July and slipped out of the country with the help of a secret missionary network in China. Their role in the rioting, China’s worst communal violence in decades, remains unclear.

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