PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago has urged the Pakatan Harapan government to protect the lives of 11 detained Uighur Muslims by not deporting them to China, ahead of a court decision on their extradition hearing today.
Speaking to FMT, he said the 11, all Chinese nationals, were at risk of persecution, life imprisonment, and torture.
The 11 Uighurs have been charged with entering Malaysia illegally after escaping from an immigration depot in Thailand. In February, the Barisan Nasional administration said that China had made an official request for their extradition.
Santiago said that the general rule of human rights rule was that a person facing a threat to life in their home country should be protected by the country in which the person was located.
The federal government should allow the Uighurs to remain in Malaysia until there is some assurance that they will not be persecuted or tortured in China.
“What they are facing aren’t criminal charges, there are political elements. The fact that they ran away from China shows they have no confidence that the country can uphold human rights, so we shouldn’t be sending them back. It’ll be sending them to the gallows.”
The Uighur people, most of whom are Muslims, live mainly in Xinjiang and Hunan provinces and are one of China’s 57 ethnic minority groups. Muslim Uighurs are reported to have long suffered oppression and discrimination.
Human rights group Tenaganita has also expressed concern that the 11 will be deported.
Tenaganita’s executive director Glorene Das said Malaysia had been one of several countries to forcibly return Uighurs to China in breach of customary international law.
Last year, nearly 120,000 political prisoners from the Uighur community were imprisoned in overcrowded re-education camps of horrible conditions in the Xinjiang region, she said.
She appealed to the Pakatan Harapan-led government to uphold election campaign promises to create a new Malaysian government reputation for policies that respected human rights and provided protection for asylum seekers.