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Uyghurs who fled China still await asylum status, say world have abandoned them

ANI | Updated: Nov 10, 2021 22:22 IST


Washington [US], November 10 (ANI): Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang who fled China amid discrimination, imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution has still not been granted asylum and they said that the world has abandoned them.
Tahir Hamut Izgil, an Uyghur asylum seeker who came to the US in 2017 with his wife and three children and has not yet been granted asylum by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
"My two daughters' China-issued passports expired in 2019, and they have no official status here in the US," Izgil told Voice of America (VOA). "Without any status, my daughter who is now a freshman at Virginia Tech is not able to apply for a student loan or scholarship."
China has been "arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs under the pretext of countering extremism or separatism" and confiscating the passports of Uyghurs.
According to Victoria Palmer, USCIS spokesperson, the agency reviews applications for asylum and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
"Uyghur asylum-seekers are lawfully allowed to remain in the United States while their case is pending," Palmer told VOA.
Citing Beijing's "systematic attempt to destroy" Uyghurs, including the imprisonment of more than 1 million people, the US denounced Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as crimes against humanity this year.
Last month on behalf of Uyghur asylum-seekers in the US and Uyghur refugees around the world, Izgil testified at a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
"Uyghurs who have been able to go abroad still have great difficulty in achieving secure living conditions," Izgil told VOA after the hearing.

"There are thousands of Uyghur refugees around the world who may be returned to China where they will face the life-threatening situation if deported," Izgil said. "For example, Thailand is holding more than 50 Uyghur refugees in its prison for more than five years."
Meanwhile, Turkey has an estimated 50,000 Uyghur refugees living. Ihsan Kartal who with his wife and three children lives in Istanbul shared his experience.
Kartal said he arrived in Turkey in 2018 from Dubai after police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) interrogated him and warned him of the possibility of being deported to China.
"I had been working and living in Dubai since 2010," Kartal told VOA. "But everything changed in 2017 and 2018 there. I witnessed some of my Uyghur friends in UAE being detained by UAE authorities and deported back to China."
UAE is among countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have deported Uyghurs to China in recent years, CNN reported.
In Turkey, according to Kartal, he and his fellow Uyghur refugees live in constant fear of being arrested by Turkish authorities and returned to China.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed an extradition treaty with China in 2017.
"These days, we always see and hear that some of our fellow Uyghur refugees (are) being arrested at midnight from their residence by Turkish security force," Kartal told VOA.
"The US is calling what we face in China a genocide, but not doing anything to help Uyghur refugees like us around the world," Kartal said. "They say big words but even a small, good deed of helping the vulnerable like us is not in their agenda."
According to a State Department spokesperson, Uyghurs outside of China currently are eligible to access the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) through UNHCR Priority 1 referrals or referral from a US embassy. (ANI)

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