Friday, May 26, 2023

Abuduwaili Abudureheman has not been heard from since he sent a text message to a friend on 10 May

Hong Kong authorities must reveal the whereabouts and fate of a Uyghur student who has been missing since he arrived in the city from South Korea earlier this month, amid fears he has been unlawfully extradited to mainland China without due process and is at risk of arbitrary detention and torture, Amnesty International said today.

Abuduwaili Abudureheman has not been heard from since he sent a text message to a friend on 10 May. In the message, Abudureheman said he was being interrogated by Chinese police after arriving at Hong Kong airport.

“The unknown fate of Abuduwaili Abudureheman is deeply worrying, given the background of crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, and its ongoing pursuit of Uyghurs who have travelled overseas,” said Alkan Akad, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

“That Abuduwaili appears to have been detained on arrival and interrogated raises questions about the potential complicity of the Hong Kong government in human rights violations being committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government.”

Abuduwaili Abudureheman was born in the city of Karamay, Xinjiang, in western China. He spent the last seven years studying in Seoul – completing a PhD in Sports Industry and Leisure in 2022. His friend described him as a softly spoken, hard-working student whose favourite hobby is to play football.

Unless there is sufficient and concrete evidence pointing to an internationally recognizable crime, Abuduwaili Abudureheman must be immediately released.

Alkan Akad, Amnesty International

On 10 May 2023, Abuduwaili travelled to Hong Kong to visit a friend, but he has been missing since his text message that evening, saying that he was being questioned at the airport by Chinese police. The friend has made Abuduwaili’s disappearance public after becoming increasingly concerned for his safety.

Amnesty International understands that Abuduwaili was on a Chinese government “watch list” of Uyghurs and other Muslims from the Xinjiang region, based on the fact that he had a history of overseas travel. Amnesty International has documented numerous instances of the Chinese government targeting Uyghurs both at home and abroad with arbitrary incommunicado detention, lengthy imprisonment and torture purely based on the fact that they had travelled outside of China.

The Chinese authorities have increasingly pursued and threatened victims outside of China’s borders, to silence dissent or even force their repatriation. In some cases the Chinese authorities have requested that other governments detain Chinese Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims with a view to transferring them back to China. Such extradition violates the UN Convention Against Torture and general international law if the individual is at real risk of torture or other serious human rights violations.

“The Hong Kong authorities must urgently reveal the whereabouts of Abuduwaili Abudureheman, who has not made contact with loved ones for more than two weeks and is at grave risk of torture based on his ethnicity and religion. If he is detained, he must be provided with access to a lawyer and relatives, and protected against any ill-treatment,” Alkan Akad said.

“Unless there is sufficient and concrete evidence pointing to an internationally recognizable crime, Abuduwaili Abudureheman must be immediately released.”

Since 2017, there has been extensive documentation of China’s crackdown against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, carried out under the guise of fighting terrorism. In 2021, a comprehensive report by Amnesty International demonstrated that the systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution perpetrated by Chinese authorities amounted to crimes against humanity. Many of Amnesty’s findings were confirmed by a report by the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights’ in August 2022. 

Amnesty International’s Free Xinjiang Detainees campaign has, to date, profiled more than 126 individuals who are among the perhaps one million or more people in arbitrary detention in internment camps and prisons in Xinjiang.  

China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong on 1 July 1997, but a “one country, two systems” model remains in place. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region exercises its own immigration control. In 2019, the then Chief Executive proposed an amendment bill to enable Hong Kong to enter into ‘special surrender arrangements’ with mainland China. The proposal was dropped after an unprecedented wave of mass protests broke out in the city.

Tags: Hong Kong, airport, Amnesty International, authorities.