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Coalition
25-04-06, 17:59
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

April 26, 2006

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

We are writing out of concern for the plight of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen of Uighur origin from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China. Mr. Celil has been imprisoned in Uzbekistan for the past month, following his arrest by Uzbekistani authorities on March 27. We urge that his case become a matter of utmost priority for the Canadian government, and for you personally.

We are gravely concerned that Mr. Celil may imminently be extradited to China, where he would be at serious risk of grave human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention and execution. In the 1990s, he suffered persecution and detention in China for his work advocating for the religious and political rights of the Uighur people. After fleeing China, he ultimately made his way to Turkey, where he was recognized as a refugee by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He was resettled to Canada in 2001.

His experience is consistent with well-documented human rights concerns in China and in central Asia. In the midst of an ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang by the Chinese government, widespread human rights violations directed against the region’s Uighur community continue. Many Uighurs have fled the country as a result. Those who have fled to neighbouring central Asian countries continue to be at risk, as there is a well-established pattern of governments in the region forcibly returning Uighurs to China, often as a result of direct pressure from the Chinese government. In some recent cases, returnees have been subjected to serious human rights violations, including torture, unfair trials and even execution.

We are concerned that the government of Kyrgyzstan is also seeking Mr. Celil’s extradition. Mr. Celil would not be safe in Kyrgyzstan, as there is a strong likelihood that he would be sent from there to China.

Prime Minister, please intervene personally and do all that you can to press relevant governments to protect Mr. Celil’s fundamental human rights, including by:

• Insisting that the Uzbekistani government immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Celil and allow him to return to Canada, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and given prompt access to a fair judicial process that meets international standards.

• Asking for assurances from the Uzbekistani government that Mr. Celil will not be handed over in any manner to authorities of either Kyrgyzstan or China.

• Obtaining regular, private consular access to Mr. Celil while he is in detention, as well as guarantees that his rights to independent legal representation, contact with family, and access to health care will be fully respected.

• Seeking assistance from other governments, notably Russia and the United States, in raising Mr. Celil’s case with Uzbekistani authorities such as through a personal request from you to Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President George Bush.

We look forward to hearing of intensified Canadian efforts on Mr. Celil’s behalf.

Sincerely,



Alex Neve
Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada
English branch

Michel Frenette
Directeur General
Amnistie Internationale
Section canadienne francophone

Tenzin Dargyal
Canada Tibet Committee

Elizabeth McWeeny
President
Canadian Council for Refugees

Faisal Kutty, General Counsel
Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association

Karl Nickner, Executive Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada

Michael To, Chair
Democracy China-Ottawa

Shahina Siddiqui, President
Islamic Social Services Association

Alan Cumyn, Chair
Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Canada

Jean Louis Roy, President
Rights & Democracy

Cheuk Kwan, Chair
Toronto Association for Democracy in China

Mohamed Tohti
Uyghur Canadian Association

Kevin Yang, Executive Director
World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (Canada)