EXTRADITION TREATY BETWEEN TURKEY, CHINA ENDANGERS UIGHUR REFUGEES
January 14, 2021:
The Uighur community in Turkey could be in jeopardy after a recent agreement was reached between Turkey and China, Voice Of America (VOA) wrote on 7 January 2021. (Source: VOA, 07/01/2021)
An estimated 50,000 Uighurs are believed to reside in Turkey, constituting the largest Uighur refugee community in the world.
Uighur diaspora activists cite a significant shift since 26 December 2020, when the Standing Committee of Chinese People's Congress ratified an extradition accord with Turkey.
The treaty dates to May 2017, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Initiative Forum.
“If we look at China's systematic assimilationist and genocidal policies in East Turkistan, the dangers that this agreement may bring will be severe,” said Erkin Ekrem, director of Ankara-based Uighur Research Institute, using the Uighur preferred “East Turkistan” term for China’s Xinjiang region.
Ekrem told VOA the extradition treaty tilts largely in favor of China, where capital punishment is applied. He said Uighur refugees who are at risk of a death sentence if they return to China are particularly made vulnerable by the treaty, which makes no stipulation that those who are facing the death penalty there cannot be extradited.
The agreement, consisting of 22 articles, obligates a signing country to extradite any person wanted on charges of criminal activity to the requesting country.
“Extradition can only be granted if the conduct targeted by the extradition request constitutes a crime under the laws of both countries,” the agreement states.
Turkish and Chinese officials have dismissed claims the treaty provides a legal window for the deportation of Uighurs from Turkey.