12th anniversary of the riots in Urumqi (July 5, 2009)

Uyghur refugees still threatened with deportation to China (Press Release)

On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the riots in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to draw attention to the fact that many countries are still sending Uyghur refugees back to China – despite the ruthlessness with which the Chinese regime treats this population group. The brutal crackdown on the protests had marked the beginning of a relentless campaign against the Muslim nationalities in the region. "States such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, continue to send Uyghur refugees back to China against their will – despite the Chinese government's policy of genocide: They are locked up in reeducation camps, sentenced to draconic prison sentences, tortured, or even sentenced to death," stated Hanno Schedler, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. "Although these states have signed the UN Convention against Torture, they continue to extradite Uyghur refugees, although they are in acute danger in China."

On July 5, 2009, a large number of Uyghur people had gathered to protest against the killing of an Uyghur worker in the Province of Guangdong in southern China. At least 200 people were killed in the crackdown on the peaceful protests. "Hundreds of people who were detained in the course of the protests are missing until today," Schedler criticized. "Back then, many Uyghurs decided to flee – often to Muslim countries such as Pakistan or Turkey." According to a report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project and the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, a total number of 1,327 Uyghur refugees were arrested or sent back to China during the past seven years – by a total number of 20 states – despite the deteriorating human rights situation in Xinjiang / East Turkestan.

In 2009, the Chinese government had blamed the former President of the Uyghur World Congress, Rebiya Kadeer, for the outbreak of violence – but without any tangible proof. Kadeer has been living in the United States since 2005. Before that, she had been imprisoned in China for six years. She stated that 38 of her relatives were detained, only because of their family ties, and – according to Radio Free Asia – her younger sister Arzugul Kadeer died one week after she was released from a Chinese reeducation center. She had been imprisoned twice before she was locked up in a reeducation center in 2017, at the age of 69. "One of the Chinese government's preferred methods to silence Uyghur human rights advocates such as Rebiya Kadeer is collective punishment for the person's family," Schedler added.