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Saudi Arabia to deport Uyghur scholar to China 'within days,' daughters say

People gather in Turkey to stage a protest against China's policies and human rights violations towards Uyghurs on 25 March 2021 [Eren Bozkurt/Anadolu Agency]
People gather to stage a protest against China's policies and human rights violations towards Uyghurs on 25 March 2021 [Eren Bozkurt/Anadolu Agency]

An Uyghur Muslim scholar detained in Saudi Arabia may be deported back to China "within days" and is at risk of facing imprisonment and torture, his family has revealed.

According to the London-based news outlet Middle East Eye, which the Uyghur scholar and businessman, Aimadoula Waili's daughters spoke to, a Saudi judicial official saw their father last week and informed him that he should be "mentally prepared" to be extradited to China "within days".

They were reportedly told of the news by another Uyghur man in the kingdom who is monitoring the case, and who confirmed Riyadh's plans to deport Waili and a second Uyghur detainee, despite the fact that they are not charged with any crime either in Saudi Arabia or in China.

One of Waili's daughters, Nurin Hemdullah, told the paper that "We have not heard our father's voice for over a year, and it pains us knowing that he could be sent to China and be separated from him forever." She added that "Since hearing about his possible deportation, we have cried non-stop. And whenever we think about this separation, the pain is just unbearable, and our heart breaks every time."

Waili, also known as Hemdullah Abduweli, visited Saudi Arabia in 2020 to perform the pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. After the Chinese consulate in Riyadh was reported to have requested his deportation, he feared that he would be detained and extradited if he attempted to leave the country, so he went into hiding by living off a network of Uyghurs within the kingdom.

READ: The Muslim world must do more to help Uyghurs being persecuted in China

He was caught by Saudi authorities in November 2020, however, and has been detained in Jeddah's Dhahban Central Maximum Security Prison ever since. Waili, who held official residency in Turkey, has already been previously imprisoned twice by Chinese authorities due to his religious teachings.

Over the past few years, numerous reports and substantial evidence has emerged regarding the Chinese government's persecution of the Uyghur Muslims in the north-west province of Xinjiang. The crimes against humanity include the detention of over one million Uyghurs and others in "re-education camps," the conducting of torture, and the sexual abuse and forceful sterilisation of women.

China has repeatedly denied the reports and evidences of the detention camps, and has condemned claims that it is repressing the minority and Islam in the region. Beijing, instead, insists that it is tackling terrorism and extremism by peacefully re-educating those detained.

Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Pakistan, and Morocco have largely refused to condemn or investigate the persecution of the Uyghurs, and many of them have agreed to collaborate with Beijing in deporting Uyghurs abroad back to China.

Riyadh and Beijing have also increased their relations and cooperation in recent years, with the Saudi Foreign Minister yesterday meeting with his Chinese counterpart to discuss economic and security issues.

READ: Saudi ballistic missile program: US-China rivalry in Gulf

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