Munich [Germany], December 30 (ANI): The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) on Tuesday called on Turkey to abide by international law and the "principle of non-refoulement" and refrain from signing the extradition treaty with the government of China.
"If adopted by Turkey, the extradition treaty is likely to become another instrument of persecution for China, aiding the Chinese government in its coordinated efforts to forcibly return Uyghurs living abroad," WUC said in a statement.
This statement comes after the extradition treaty between the two countries was announced on Monday, when China's Standing Committee of the People's Congress ratified the bilateral agreement signed in 2017.
The pro-Uyghur body said that latest Sino-Turkish treaty aims to target ''Uyghurs'' who are suspected of terrorism.
"Since 2017, China has been interning an estimated 1.8-3 millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps, under the guise of counterterrorism. Recent leaked documents revealed that China has criminalised and detained Uyghurs for everyday lawful, non-violent behaviour, as well as for travelling or having family abroad," the statement said.
It said that announcement of ratification of the treaty has created great worry among the Uyghur community in Turkey, which is home to an estimated 50,000 Uyghurs.
"Due to the repression against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan, a large number of these Uyghurs have fled and become stateless, living under precarious conditions. The new treaty would aggravate their situation even further, as it would place these Uyghurs at a greater risk of being forcibly returned to China, where they could face severe maltreatment," the statement further said.
After Uyghurs flee China, the Chinese government relentlessly pursues Uyghur refugees and uses its power and influence to pressure host countries into returning Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers. Upon their return, Uyghurs are subjected to enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and other serious human rights violations.
In the past 20 years, over 300 confirmed Uyghurs have been forcibly returned to China from 16 different countries. These numbers don't include the Uyghurs who were secretly returned to China by neighbouring states. These individuals were students, refugees, and asylum seekers.
"Turkey is considered to be a second home for Uyghurs, who have taken refuge in this country that has cultural and linguistic ties with the Uyghur people," WUC president Dolkun Isa said. "Given the genocide that is unfolding in East Turkistan, the Turkish government has a responsibility to protect all Uyghurs living in Turkey."
"Turkey has an obligation under international law and the principle of non-refoulement to prevent Uyghurs in Turkey from being returned to China. Failing to do so will put these Uyghurs at risk of severe maltreatment. It would also taint Turkey's reputation as a country that has long welcomed Uyghurs fleeing persecution in China and has spoken out against these abuses," WUC said.
In international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement means that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture or inhuman treatment. (ANI)