Middle East

Uighur man issues desperate plea to halt imminent deportation to China


A 54-year-old Uighur man is calling for intervention from western countries and human rights groups after he was reportedly told he would be forced to return to China, where he fears for his safety.

A Uighur man has issued a desperate plea for help after reportedly being told he will be forced to return to China where he fears for his safety.

Abulikemu Yusufu, 53, posted a video to social media from Doha Hamad International Airport where he said he has been detained ahead of being deported to Beijing.

"My name is Ablikim, I am currently being held at Doha airport, about to be deported to Beijing, China tomorrow morning," he said in the video, which had been subtitled in English by Australian-Uighur human rights advocate Arslan Hidayat.

Abulikemu Yusufu and his passport.
Abulikemu Yusufu and his passport.

"I need the world's help."

According to photos posted on social media, Mr Yusufu's flight from Doha to Beijing is set to depart in approximately seven hours at 11.20am local time.

Mr Hidayat, whose comedian father-in-law is also feared missing in Xinjiang, told SBS News Mr Yusufu had been trying to enter Europe through Bosnia on July 31, after flying through Qatar, but he was forced to return to Doha. According to Mr Yusufu, the Qatari authorities are now insisting that he returns to China.

"I can't sleep now until this guy is safe," he said.

"His safety is the most important thing now."

In a statement written in Chinese and provided to SBS News, Mr Yusufu said he had fled China and attempted to enter Bosnia because he feared persecution in his home country. If returned to China, he wrote, he will be "lifeless".

The Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority largely hailing from China's western Xinjiang region.

The UN has estimated that more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim citizens are currently detained in Chinese camps throughout the region, with the remaining population subject to intense surveillance.

Last month, 22 countries - including Australia - signed a letter addressed to the president of the United Nations' Human Rights Council, calling on China to halt its mass detention of the Uighurs.

"We call on China to uphold its national laws and international obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief in Xinjiang and across China," the letter read.

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