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CHINA: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF FAMILY OF FOUR UYGHURS IN XINJIANG RE-EDUCATION CAMPS

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of China to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 6/2022 concerning Abdurashid Tohti, Tajigul Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Ali Abdurashid (China) starting with their immediate release and according them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Abdurashid Tohti, Tajigul Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Ali Abdurashid (China): Opinion No. 6/2022


FAMILY OF FOUR UYGHURS HELD INCOMMUNICADO IN A RE-EDUCATION CAMP IN XINJIANG PROVINCE


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 6/2022 concerns a Chinese family of four: father, mother and two adult sons, all belonging to the Uyghur minority and living in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. The Working Group noted that the four members of the family are allegedly being held incommunicado in a so-called re-education camp in Xinjiang province, a situation that placed them outside the protection of the law, in violation of their right to be recognized as a person before the law under article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Moreover, the Working Group noted that all four individuals appear to be in de facto indefinite detention in a so-called re-education camp. Such a situation, as clearly stipulated by the Working Group in its deliberation No. 4, is inherently arbitrary, in violation of article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Working Group took the opportunity to recall the follow-up report to the joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism by the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/49/45) reiterating and highlighting the ongoing concerns about the conditions of the internment of Uyghurs in “re-education camps” including the practice of ‘re-education’ which impinges on the most fundamental of rights.


The Working Group emphasized being disturbed at the total secrecy which appears to surround the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Tohti, Ms. Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Abdurashid. Their family members abroad have been unable to establish the exact details of their arrests and trials or their exact whereabouts, leading the Working Group to recall that it is the duty of all governments to treat their detainees with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity as a human being.


The Working Group therefore concluded that the arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. Tohti, Ms. Qadir and Ametjan and Mohamed Abdurashid are arbitrary and fall under category I.


PROCEEDINGS CHARACTERIZED BY BLATANT OPACITY IN VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT OF DUE PROCESS


The Working Group noted that very little appears to be known about the trial proceedings against Mr. Tohti, Ms. Qadir and their sons since the charges against them are unknown and the dates of their trials, as well as details of those proceedings, if they ever took place, are equally unknown. In these circumstances, noting the opacity of the proceedings the Working Group considered that Mr. Tohti, Ms. Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Abdurashid were deprived of their right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in violation of their rights under article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The Working Group highlighted that the fact that to date, some six and seven years after their detention, family members have been unable to find out anything about their respective trials is a striking testament to this, leading the Working Group to conclude that the detention was thus arbitrary and falls under category III.


A PATTERN OF DISCRIMINATORY PERSECUTIONS BASED ON THEIR BELONGING TO THE UYGHUR MINORITY AND MUSLIM FAITH


The Working Group noted that Mr. Tohti, Ms. Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Abdurashid were arrested and remain detained owing to their belonging to the Uyghur minority and being of the Muslim faith. The Working recalled the Special Rapporteur report recording the ongoing practice of arbitrary mass and secret detention directed at the Uighurs.


Therefore, the Working Group concluded that the arrest and detention of the four individuals was based on discrimination on the basis of their belonging to the Uyghur minority and being of Muslim faith, in violation of article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, hence falling under category V.


A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM WITH ARBITRARY DETENTION IN CHINA THAT MAY CONSTITUTE A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY


The Working Group noted that in its 30-year history, it has found China in violation of its international human rights obligations in numerous cases and cited 98 previous opinions in this sense, before concluding that this indicates a systemic problem with arbitrary detention in China, which amounts to a serious violation of international law.

The Working Group recalled that, under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of the Chinese family of four all belonging to the Uyghur minority is arbitrary and falls under falls within categories I, III and V because the deprivation of liberty of Abdurashid Tohti, Tajigul Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Ali Abdurashid is in contravention of articles 2, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of China take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Abdurashid Tohti, Tajigul Qadir, Ametjan Abdurashid and Mohamed Ali Abdurashid without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with their immediate release and and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.


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