Coalition Calls on Moroccan Authorities to Cancel Extradition Proceedings and Release Yidiresi Aishan from Detention

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July 19, 2022 | 11:00 a.m. EDT
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

Uyghur activist Yidiresi Aishan at risk of extradition after one year of detention in Morocco

One year after his arrest at Casablanca airport, Yidiresi Aishan, also known as Idris Hasan, a Uyghur activist, remains under threat of extradition from Morocco to China, where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

After arriving in Morocco on a flight from Turkey, where he had been living with his family since 2012, Mr. Aishan was arrested the night of July 19–20, 2021 on the basis of a Red Notice issued by Interpol at China’s request “for belonging to a terrorist organisation”. In recent years, China has increasingly used the Interpol Red Notice system to stifle dissent. 

On July 20, 2021, Mr. Aishan was brought before the prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Casablanca, who ordered that he be remanded in custody in Tiflet prison, pending the decision of the Court of Cassation. Since then, he has remained detained in that same prison. 

On December 15, 2021, the Court of Cassation in Rabat issued a favourable opinion on the extradition request, despite the cancellation by Interpol in August 2021 of the Red Notice issued against him on the grounds that it violated its statutes and Mr. Aishan’s filing of an application for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Since that decision, the issuance of an extradition decree by the Moroccan Prime Minister is the only step separating Mr. Aishan from extradition.

The issuance of such a decree would contradict Morocco’s international obligations, including the Convention against Torture, which states in article 3 that “no State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

When living in Turkey, Mr. Aishan reportedly provided translation assistance to other Uyghurs in exile and helped collect testimonies on human rights violations in Xinjiang. As a member of the Uyghur community and given his activism, Mr. Aishan would face real risks of torture and other ill-treatment as well as prolonged arbitrary detention, if forcibly returned to China.

Uyghurs are increasingly experiencing persecution and large scale human rights violations in Xinjiang. Members of the diaspora who are not firmly settled in third countries are facing a real risk of detention and refoulement. 

Multiple international bodies have thus called on the Kingdom of Morocco not to extradite Mr. Aishan to China in accordance with the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.

On August 11, 2021, several UN Special Procedures mandate holders sent an urgent appeal to Morocco, recalling the absolute and non-derogable prohibition against returning a person to a place where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

The experts reiterated their call in a statement on December 16, 2021, highlighting the risk of “serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” that Mr. Aishan could face if returned to China.

At the request of MENA Rights Group and Safeguard Defenders, the UN Committee against Torture sent a request for interim measures to the Moroccan authorities on December 20, 2021. In order to prevent irreparable harm to Mr. Aishan, the Moroccan authorities were instructed “not to extradite the complainant [Aishan] to China while his request is under consideration by the Committee”. Mr. Aishan’s case remains pending before the Committee, which has yet to issue a final decision.

In light of the above, we, the undersigned organisations, call on the Moroccan authorities to cancel the extradition proceedings against Mr. Aishan and release him from his year-long detention, which, in the absence of periodic judicial review, individual assessment and credible grounds, may amount to arbitrary detention.

List of signatories:

  1. Acat Belgium
  2. Alberta Uyghur Association
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Australian Uyghur Association
  5. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
  6. Belgium Uyghur Association
  7. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  8. Campaign for Uyghurs
  9. Center for Uyghur Studies
  10. China Research Institute
  11. Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
  12. East Turkistan Association of Canada
  13. East Turkistan Foundation
  14. European East Turkistan Union
  15. Front Line Defenders
  16. Human Rights Watch
  17. Ilham Tohti Initiative
  18. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 
  19. Isa Yüsüp Alptekin Foundation
  20. Japan Uyghur Association
  21. MENA Rights group
  22. Norwegian Uyghur Committee
  23. Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic
  24. Safeguard Defenders
  25. Society for Threatened Peoples
  26. Sweden Uyghur Union
  27. Swiss Uyghur Association
  28. Teklemakan Uyghur Publishing House
  29. UK Uyghur Association
  30. Umer Uygur Trust Pakistan
  31. Uyghur Academy
  32. Uyghur Academy Foundation
  33. Uyghur American Association
  34. Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia
  35. Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
  36. Uyghur Community in Austria
  37. Uyghur Cultural and Education Union
  38. Uyghur Human Rights Project
  39. Uyghur Republican Party
  40. Uyghur Research Institue
  41. Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
  42. Uyghur Science and Education Foundation
  43. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  44. World Uyghur Congress
  45. World Uyghur Congress Foundation