Jun 03, 2011

UN To Hear Chorus of Condemnation Over Israel Extradition

UNPO has addressed its concerns directly to Chinese and Kazakh authorities as human rights organizations across the world have been uniting over the past days to denounce the decision to return ethnic Uyghur, Ershidin Israel, to the People’s Republic of China where he is likely to face detention, possible torture, and an uncertain fate.

Below are statements released by leading human rights organisations:

In a statement, Senator Marco Perduca, co-vice president of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty noted that "The ordeal of Ershidin Israel, an Uyghur currently in Kazakhstan who for some time has enjoyed the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee, seems to have reached a tragic end: deportation towards China. For reasons that remain unknown to the public Mr. Ershidin has been stripped of the status he was granted by UNHCR and will therefore be handed over to Chinese authorities by the Nazarbayev government soon. As the many precedents tell us, Uyghurs, once back in China, suffer harsh prosecution if not executions. […]  At the same time I urge UNHCR to clarify once and for all the status of Mr. Ershidin vis-a-vis the Geneva Convention so that he can be eventually transfered to a country that has a record of not caving in to Chinese pressure when it comes of protecting the human rights of the Uyghurs.  The Nonviolent Radical Party and the World Uyghur Congress will take part in the upcoming session of the UN human Rights Council and will not fail to raise the issue in the next days.

*     *     *

The World Uyghur Congress declared that “Ershidin Israel, 38, a Uyghur refugee currently in detention in an unknown location in Kazakhstan, is in imminent danger of being extradited to China after Kazakh authorities rejected his asylum application. Mr. Israel was taken yesterday [30 May 2011] at 8.00 p.m. (local time) from the prison in Almaty where he was detained by one Kazakh prosecutor and two Chinese men, probably police, to an unknown location. Neither his family nor his lawyer where informed about his whereabouts and his legal status and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) believes that his is on the way to be extradited to China today at 9.00 p.m. (local time) in a flight from Almaty to Urumqi, the regional capital of East Turkestan.

The WUC is extremely worried about Mr. Israel’s fate and calls on the international community to stand up for Mr. Israel and call on the Kazakh authorities to not send him back to China where he would face detention and torture. Uyghurs who have been extradited to China in the past, were detained, imprisoned, sentenced, tortured, executed or disappeared after their return to China.

On 2 July 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, together with the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, sent an urgent appeal to the Chinese government regarding Ershidin Israel.

Ershidin Israel fled East Turkestan in September 2009 after having provided information to Radio Free Asia (RFA, www.rfa.org) about the apparent torture to death of a young Uyghur man named Shohret Tursun […]  The WUC urges the international community to call on China to stop pressuring the Central Asian governments to violate the civil rights of their own citizens.  The WUC also calls on the international community to immediately demand Mr. Israel´s protection and remind the Kazakh government of its obligations to respect the international treaties it is part of.

Kazakhstan has ratified the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol to the Status of Refugees, and the UN Convention against Torture. Importantly, the two Conventions contain various safeguards against the expulsion of refugees. The principle of non-refoulement is so fundamental that no reservations or derogations may be made to it. It provides that no one shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom. By extraditing Ershidin Israel to China, the Kazakh authorities would therefore clearly violate the Conventions they are part of.

Rebiya Kadeer, WUC president and former prisoner of conscience, said that she was “very disappointed by Kazakhstan´s decision to not grant Mr. Israel asylum and put his life under serious threat.”

The WUC calls on the international community to urge the Kazakh authorities to refrain from forcibly returning Israel back to China and grant him instead political asylum and allow him to resettle in a third country.

*     *     *

Human Rights in China (HRIC) is extremely concerned over reports of the deportation of Uyghur refugee Ershidin Israil to China from fellow Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member state Kazakhstan.

Israil fled to Kazakhstan in late September 2009, in the wake of the July 2009 Urumqi riots in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He was initially granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Almaty, Kazakhstan in March 2010, and was scheduled to depart for resettlement in Sweden on April 1, 2010. However, Kazakhstan authorities denied Israil’s application for an exit visa and arrested him on June 23, 2010. In May 2011, a Kazakh court denied his application for political asylum.

Deportation of Israil by the authorities of Kazakhstan – which currently holds the rotating presidency of the SCO and will host the upcoming tenth anniversary “Jubilee Summit” of the organization – raises serious questions about the impact of the SCO framework on respect for human rights. Pursuant to SCO agreements, Kazakhstan is obliged to extradite individuals accused by another member state government of “terrorism,” “separatism,” or “extremism,” and to “prevent the granting of refugee status and corresponding documents” to persons alleged to be involved in offenses related to terrorism. […]

Additionally, in the lead-up to the SCO’s tenth anniversary “Jubilee Summit” on June 15, 2011, HRIC urges the international community to demand an accounting by the SCO for the safety of Ershidin Israil, and for the broader human rights impact of SCO practices such as denials of asylum and forcible returns. HRIC urges further inquiry by the international community into the SCO member states’ ongoing prioritization of questionable regional commitments over their international human rights obligations – particularly those obligations enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture, and the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

*     *     *