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2 Uyghur students returned from Egypt, dead in China police custody

Photo of Yasinjan, an Uyghur student who died in police custody after returning to China from Egypt [World Uyghur Congress/Facebook]

Two Uyghur students have died in police custody after they voluntarily returned to China's Xinjiang region from Egypt this year.

The students returned to Xinjiang after Chinese authorities made a call for members of the ethnic group living abroad to come back home.

According to a Xinjiang resident, who spoke to Radio Free Asia, students Abdusalam Mamat and Yasinjan, both from Korla city, had been studying at the Islamic University of Al-Azhar in Cairo since 2015.

Xinjiang authorities issued an order earlier this year for Uyghurs living abroad to return to "register" themselves, which Mamat returned to do in January this year and Yasinjan did in April.

Both men were arrested on their arrival and later died in police custody. Neither had any illnesses that would've contributed to their deaths and it is unclear when they died.

A crackdown on China's minority Muslim group in Xinjiang escalated last year after the Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo, was appointed to the post in August. Many Uyghurs have faced untold repression after being accused of harbouring "extremist" and "politically incorrect" views and sent to political re-education camps and prisons throughout Xinjiang.

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According to the Communist Party of Korla's Aq-Eriq village, 23 people are currently detained in the village. It confirmed that Mamat and Yasinjan had both died "in prison".

Mamat was the son of an imam at the Grand Mosque, and Yasinjan was the sibling of an officer from Korla's Charbagh township police station who, despite his role, could not even "save his brother's life".

Yasinjan's brother was reportedly "dismissed from his police work prior to Yasinjan's death", when he began to inquire about Yasinjan's detention.

Around 20 Uyghur students in Cairo are still missing months after Egyptian authorities launched a targeted campaign against the students living in Cairo at the behest of China. Over 200 Uyghurs have been detained since 4 July after they were rounded up in the streets of Cairo and in their homes or arrested at airports as they tried to flee for safety.

Many of the Uyghurs have since been deported to Xinjiang where they are likely to have faced arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of Xinjiang authorities.

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