PRESS RELEASE – 24 AUGUST 2011
FORCED RETURN OF 11 UIGHURS: IT IS ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT
SUARAM strongly condemns the deportation of 11 Chinese citizens of Uighur ethnicity by the Malaysian government on August 18 and views it as another international embarrassment for Malaysia.
“It is a blatant violation of international law and/or international customary law against refoulement (forced return)”. It is also an international embarrassment for Malaysian government to deport vulnerable individuals or a group of people to the country where they may face dangers and risks.
SUARAM is also urged the Malaysian government to publicly clarify the return of these 11 Uighurs and to be answerable and responsible to the question of why the Malaysian government had not given access for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine and verify the status of these vulnerable individuals. The government should firstly ensure the safety of these people before returning them back to their country or at least to give access to UNHCR to make verification for asylum claim.
Apart from that, SUARAM strongly urges the Malaysian government to immediately ensure that another five ethnic Uighurs among 16 arrested in raids on August 6 are not forcibly returned to China.
Arbitrary detention, repression and torture against Muslim ethnic minorities including the Uighurs by the Chinese government are well-documented. Handing over (the return) this vulnerable ethnic minority group may lead to grave risk of torture and repression in China.
As a member for United Nations for Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Once again, SUARAM reminds the Malaysia government to not show a bad example of treatment of asylum seekers and refugees to other countries in the region and to immediately halt any plans or actions that can bring a shame to this nation.
SUARAM also urges the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol in order to protect and promote the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia.
Andika Ab. Wahab
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)