Cambodia to Expel Uighur Asylum-Seekers from China (Updated)

The group of 22 Uighurs who escaped to Cambodia will be deported. News of their deportation follows reports that China disputed the United Nations’ refugee system. From the Associated Press:

A group of Muslims who fled China after deadly ethnic rioting and sought asylum in Cambodia will be deported.

The group of 22 ethnic Uighurs — who fled China with the help of a secret network of missionaries and arrived in Phnom Penh in recent weeks — was being expelled because it was determined they entered the country illegally, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said. Two Uighurs have gone missing, he said.

Cambodian Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said the group would be expelled within a week and could be returned to China.

“I can’t say where they will be sent, but I assume their final destination will be China, the place where they come from,” he said.

The deportations follow intense pressure from China, which has called the Uighurs criminals. The move comes as Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Cambodia on Sunday as part of a four-country tour.

The group was deported Saturday evening. From AFP:

A group of 20 Muslim Uighurs who were seeking refuge in Cambodia after unrest in the Chinese region of Xinjiang were deported back to China late Saturday, an interior ministry spokesman said.

“The 20 Uighurs have been sent back to China on a Chinese plane Saturday night,” spokesman Khieu Sopheak told AFP.

Cambodia had said earlier Saturday it would expel the Uighurs despite protests from the United States and rights activists.

Read also coverage in the New York Times.

December 18, 2009 9:46 PM
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