Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) hereby calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to refrain from handing over two Uyghur Muslims to the Chinese authorities – to do so would risk violating international laws prohibiting the repatriation of people who would thereby face the risk of torture, which the Uyghur minority continues to suffer.
AOHR UK reports that Saudi authorities arrested Hamdallah Abd al-Wali and Nurmit Ruzi in November 2020 whilst they were performing the Umrah (a visit to Mecca). They were detained – still without trial – in a Jeddah prison. On 3 January the authorities informed them of their intention to hand them over to Beijing.
According to Abd al-Wali’s family, he “travelled to Saudi with Ruzi from Turkey, where they live, in February 2020 to perform Umrah. But, with the Corona-19 outbreak, they were unable to leave the Kingdom. In November 2020 they were arrested and sent to Briman Prison in Jeddah, without being given a reason for their arrest. They have since been informed of the Saudi authorities’ intention to extradite them to China.”
AOHR UK warns of the likely fate that awaits the two men if they are extradited to China, where the Uyghur community continues to suffer systematic torture, persecution, and blatant racism. Chinese authorities continue their campaign of repression against the Uyghur people – a full-spectrum effort to erase their identity, including restrictions on movement, forced sterilization, and imprisonment in so-called “political education” camps.
AOHR UK underlines that the Saudi authorities have not only turned a blind eye to those grave violations, but indeed has aided Chinese authorities in their repression – for example, it forcibly deported five Uyghurs between 2017 and 2018. More recently, the Kingdom’s authorities repatriated 1000s of people to Ethiopia’s Tigray’s region, despite the fact of their facing similar persecution to those the Uyghurs are subjected to.
The Chinese authorities are doing everything in their power to repatriate Uyghurs – those who have succeeded in escaping repression. As it appears, the Saudi authorities are willing to support this criminal effort.
AOHR UK therefore implores the relevant groups across international community, including the UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture, to urgently intervene and to pressure Saudi authorities to refuse to hand over Uyghur citizens to China, and to release them immediately.