Uyghurs fear deportation if Turkey-China extradition agreement comes into force

Untitled design (9)

December 30, 2020 1:16 PM EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is deeply concerned that an extradition treaty soon to be reached between China and Turkey may lead to the illegal forced deportation of Uyghurs fleeing persecution.

“The Chinese government stops at nothing to persecute Uyghurs beyond its borders,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “The Uyghur community in Turkey is terrified. It’s our worst nightmare–that China will use strongarm diplomacy to force Turkey to deport innocent Uyghurs to China, where they face certain detention and torture, or worse.”

The Chinese and Turkish governments are set to ratify the treaty, after it was discussed by China’s National People’s Congress over the weekend. The treaty was initially signed during the Turkish Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing in 2017, but will not come into force until ratification by both states.

UHRP is encouraged by statements by Turkish government representatives that Uyghurs would not be deported under the agreement. But deportation fears are based on the warming relationship between the two countries in recent years, past extradition requests from the Chinese government, and at least one reported case of deportation of a Uyghur mother and her two children from China via Tajikistan from 2019.

As the UHRP has documented, the Turkish government has been inconsistent in providing official documents to recently arrived Uyghurs, keeping many in a perpetual state of insecurity. In other cases, Uyghurs have been sent back and forth from regular detention to immigration detention facilities.

Turkey is home to one of the largest Uyghur diaspora communities anywhere in the word, including thousands arriving since 2016, when the Chinese government began to arbitrarily detain Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples en masse.