Many Uyghurs have fled China to escape persecution from the communist regime. However, they are still being troubled in foreign lands by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agents who seek to get them deported back to China.
A recent brief submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the self-proclaimed East Turkistan government in exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement states that Chinese officials in foreign nations are creating visa problems for Uyghurs as well as coercing them into becoming Beijing’s informants.
This is the third brief submitted to the ICC on the plight of Uyghurs. Previous complaints were rejected by the court since China is not a signatory and was thus outside the jurisdiction of the ICC. The court had left matters undecided and asked for more evidence on the issue.
The brief expects the ICC to conduct an investigation into China’s human rights abuses and forced exile of Uyghurs living abroad. The complaint includes testimonies from Uyghurs who have been subjected to such forced deportations from Tajikistan, a country that is a signatory to the ICC.
“They can give evidence directly to the ICC about how [Chinese officials] would focus their strategies on coming into Tajikistan and getting Uyghurs detained, arrested and deported out… So it’s first-hand testimony from witnesses who are now accessible to the ICC to be interviewed, about how Chinese officers are operating on Tajikistan soil,” Rodney Dixon QC, the lead lawyer for the group, told The Guardian.
According to new evidence submitted in the brief, the population of Uyghurs in Tajikistan fell by over 85 percent due to forced deportations. In Kyrgyzstan, there was an 87 percent decline.
A recently published study by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs also confirms that Uyghurs all across the world are facing harassment and threats from Chinese authorities. Some of the Uyghurs interviewed in the study revealed that Beijing had threatened their family members to force them to comply with its demands.
Out of the 500,000 Uyghurs estimated to be living abroad, almost 96 percent were found to “reportedly feeling threatened” by the Chinese regime. 73.5 percent said that they have experienced digital risks, threats, or other forms of online harassment. Though these Uyghurs live in democratic nations in North America, Europe, etc., they believe their respective governments have failed to take their concerns seriously. In the United States, Uyghurs have received digital threats via WeChat.
“During some of these interactions, Chinese officials have reportedly requested passport information and other details and information on future protests and organizing activity from Uyghurs living in the United States. Many Uyghur community members in and around D.C. often wear masks and sunglasses to obscure their faces and hide their identities from people taking photos when they attend protests in the United States,” the report states.
Back in September, the FBI had warned about China’s attempts to intimidate American Uyghurs. In one incident from June, Beijing imprisoned family members of six Uyghur journalists working in the U.S.
An Uyghur woman received messages between 2019 and 2021 to stop talking about her community’s persecution. Beijing eventually sent the woman’s relatives into detention camps. Failing to comply with Beijing’s dictates can also result in an Uyghur person’s assets in China being seized, forced repatriation, hacking, and so on, according to an FBI report.
“The Chinese government continues to conduct this activity, even as the US government (USG) has sanctioned Chinese officials and increased public and diplomatic messaging to counter China’s human rights and democratic abuses in Xinjiang over the past year. This transnational repression activity violates US laws and individual rights,” the report said.