China: Fabricated evidence used in deportation
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||15 June 2011|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, China: Fabricated evidence used in deportation, 15 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e0c3b31b.html [accessed 9 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Court documents show that a Uyghur refugee was repatriated to China under false pretenses.
Documents used by Kazakhstan as grounds to deport an ethnic Uyghur to China were irrelevant and doctored, according to the man's brother and a Uyghur rights activist.
Ershidin Israil, a 38-year-old former geography teacher, was initially given refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and accepted for resettlement by Sweden after having fled on foot across the border to Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, from China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in July 2009.
But the UNHCR later stripped him of his refugee status, paving the way for Kazakhstan to deport him to Xinjiang, where he is likely to face punishment for exposing the torture and death of a fellow Uyghur in a Chinese prison.
Anne Enochsson, a Swedish MP, has demanded that her country's Ministry for Foreign Affairs conduct an investigation into how Israil was allowed to be deported to China when he had been accepted for resettlement.
"Now Sweden is directly involved in an asylum case and therefore should stand up for human rights," she said in a statement.
"When the U.N. fails, Sweden must have the courage to stand up against the methods of dictatorships."
The Chinese documents detailing Israil's alleged crimes of terrorism were obtained by his lawyer, Yuri Sergeivich Stukanov, and provided to RFA by Israil's sister-in-law, Asiye Kerimova.
They were released shortly after a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that Israil had been extradited to China where he is being held on charges of "terrorism."
World Uyghur Congress General Secretary Dolkun Isa said evidence used against Israil was fabricated and "typical" of the Chinese approach to targeting dissidents.
"According to the documents, only two items of evidence determined Ershidin Israil's fate of deportation. One is a photo of him wearing a long beard, which was made artificially. Another is linking him to a so-called terrorist, Repket Abdukerim," Isa said.
He said Abdukerim was not known as having taken part in any pro-Uyghur activities or organizations.
"It's the first time I have heard this name. Probably he was on China's blacklist and his information has not been publicized yet, or he was newly added to the blacklist in order to fabricate the story according to China's needs," Isa said.
"How could the UNHCR believe China's accusations just based on these two pieces of evidence without even investigating who Repket Abdukerim is? This is a shameful example of UNHCR irresponsibility or corruption," he said.
Linked to 'terrorist'
Ershidin Israil in an undated photo provided by a friend.
The court documents accused Israil of terrorism because of his connection with Abdukerim, who Chinese authorities said had been trained in Afghanistan and was a member of the Taliban, though they said his whereabouts were unknown.
According to Israil's relatives, Abdukerim was a prominent young businessman in the Xinjiang's Qorghas (in Chinese, Huocheng) county, in Ili prefecture, who had received a good education and who had previously worked for the Chinese government.
They said he had fled from Xinjiang in 2006 and is now living in Turkey.
On Tuesday, RFA spoke with Repket Abdukerim by phone.
"Yes I know Ershidin Israil because we grew up in the same town, in the same county. I was never interested or involved in any political activities or organizations in the Uyghur region or abroad. I have only sought a safe place to conduct my business and I have found it in Turkey," Abdukerim said.
"I know Ershidin Israil was just a schoolteacher."
He confirmed that he had lived in Kazakhstan, but denied that he had been working with any Uyghur organizations.
"I don't want to talk about my life in Central Asia and in my homeland in the past. I just want to concentrate on my future and on my business," he said.
Abdukerim also denied that he had ever been to Afghanistan.
Enver Israil, Ershidin Israil's brother, said that Abdulkerim had suffered a similar experience to what his brother endured.
"Abdukerim nearly had the same fate as Ershidin. He was also sought after by the police in China. But he was lucky because he was able to reach Turkey with a business visa," he said.
Enver Israil had earlier told RFA it was only after relocating to Kazakhstan that he learned Chinese authorities were trying to arrest his brother as a terrorist. In Xinjiang, he had only been aware that his brother was wanted for "leaking state secrets" about the death in detention case.
He said he had been surprised when he saw a picture attached to a copy of the documents of his brother with a long beard, which he said his brother had never worn.
"Besides that, when the Kazakh authorities presented the picture to me, they said it was taken when Ershidin was on trial [in China] in 1999," he said.
"Everyone knows that in the Chinese system, no one is allowed to attend a trial with a beard."
Ershidin Israil had previously served a six-year jail sentence in China in 1999 for "acts of separatism."
Kathy Polias, who was assigned by the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress to prevent Israil's forcible return to China, earlier told RFA that authorities in Kazakhstan were also complicit in fabricating evidence about him to the organizations monitoring his safety.
She said they told the UNHCR that Israil was a Chinese spy at the same time that they informed the European Union that he was a terrorist.
"The fact that the Kazakhstan government was telling drastically different stories about Ershidin to two entities at the same time showed clearly that the government was lying and playing games with this man's life," Polias said in a statement to RFA.
Polias said she was shocked to learn that the UNHCR withdrew Israil's refugee status based on information from the Chinese government, which she called "notorious for lying and falsifying evidence."
"[China] consistently labels Uyghurs who peacefully protest government policies as terrorists, terrorizes and persecutes its own citizens, and repeatedly tries to pressure its neighbors to violate their commitments under refugee law and return political dissidents to China," she said.
"What happened to looking at the source of the evidence in addition to the evidence itself?"
The UNHCR has refused to provide details of Israil's case, citing its policy of confidentiality.
Reported and translated by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.