Washington DC [US], December 31 (ANI): The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday expressed shock over the reports that China has ratified an extradition treaty with Turkey that could target Muslim minority Uyghurs fleeing persecution from Xinjiang province.
"USCIRF is alarmed by reports that China has ratified an extradition treaty with Turkey that could target Uyghurs fleeing persecution, and calls on the Turkish Parliament to reject ratification and make every effort to protect Uyghurs and others at risk," USCIRF tweeted.
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.
On Tuesday, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) called on Turkey to abide by international law and the "principle of non-refoulment" 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.
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," 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.
The Uyghur Congress said that in the past 20 years, over 300 confirmed Uyghurs have been forcibly returned to China from 16 different countries. (ANI)