Two Uyghurs living abroad – 26-year-old Huseyin Imin Tohti and 17-year-old Osmanjan Omer – were arrested mid-October by Dubai police in the United Arab Emirates. Their families have not been informed of their whereabouts or any charges against them. According to a news report from Radio Free Asia, both men hold Chinese passports and may have been arrested as part of China’s international call for the return of ethnic Uyghurs with Chinese passports. The Uyghur community outside of Eastern Turkistan is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in their homeland and China’s international persecution of Uyghurs under the pretext of national security.
We were informed that Huseyin was a businessman who was previously forced out of Turkey after being suspected of having traveled to Syria. Osmanjan fled to the UAE from Egypt with his brother 14-year-old brother Hezritili Omer. Huseyin was in the process of registering with the UNHCR and Omanjan was looking for opportunities educational opportunities in Dubai before their arrest. Osmanjan’s brother Hezritili suspects his brother was arrested because he and Huseyin were staying at the same apartment.
We’re concerned about the plight of these Uyghur men and worry that Dubai law enforcement may hand over the two Uyghur men to Chinese authorities. We call on relevant states and international organizations to investigate the matter with the UAE and prevent their refoulment to China.
About Huseyin Imin Tohti
Huseyin (Yushen Yimingtohet) was born in Hoten and fled to Turkey after being harassed by Chinese police while studying at the Zhengzhou Medical University. He opened up a cell phone shop and a restaurant in Istanbul before being arrested by Turkish police and sent to an immigration detention center in Erzurum after being suspected of traveling to Syria. While he was in detention, his wife gave birth to their third child. Because he wanted to see his new child and get treatment for his worsening liver problem, he requested removal to a country other than China before a decision was made on his case in Erzurum. He was removed to the UAE where he sought asylum through the UNHCR in Dubai. The Chinese Embassy refused to issue a passport to his youngest Child because, stating that the father need to be with the child when applying for a passport. He was unable to realize his dream of reuniting with his family in the UAE.
On October 9, Huseyin sent a message to his wife Nigare saying that he was informed that Dubai police were looking for him and if he was not online for more than three days then to know that he had been arrested. Huseyin was last online on October 12 at 4:22 p.m.
About Osmanjan Omer
After Egypt started rounding up Uyghur students to deport to China, Osmanjan and his 14-year-old brother fled to the UAE, fearing that Egypt would refoul them to China. He was searching for educational opportunities in Dubai. The brothers registered for an English language program through a Chinese company called “Ni Hao” and were waiting for classes to begin when Osmanjan was detained and questioned by police. According to his brother, while he was at a restaurant, a police officer had shown Osmanjan a picture of Huseyin and asked if he knew him. Scared, Osmanjan had told the police he didn’t know Huseyin. A week later, Osmanjan was arrested by Dubai police.
In December 2009, Cambodia deported approximately 20 Uyghurs to China. In 2015, Thailand deported more than 100 Uyghurs. Some of those returned received long-term and life sentences while the majority were disappeared.
The situation in Eastern Turkistan has been rapidly deteriorating since May of this year. It’s clear that these two men will face a dangerous fate if handed over to Chinese authorities. Thus, we call on human rights organizations and states to act immediately to investigate the matter and prevent the two Uyghur mens’ refoulement to China.