Wife of Canadian detained in Uzbekistan makes desperate plea for helpBy: The Canadian Press

at 20:25 on April 5, 2006, EST.

(CP) - The wife of an Ontario man detained in Uzbekistan urged the Canadian government Wednesday to save her husband from possible deportation to China, where she fears he faces execution as a political dissident.
Kamila Celil has not been allowed to speak with husband Huseyincan Celil, both of Burlington, Ont., since he was arrested on March 26 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. "China wants to take him. He can't go to China, because they will arrest and they will kill him," Celil said in a phone interview from Tashkent.
"The Canadian government has to take him from Uzbekistan."
A letter outlining Celil's plight has been sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton, and several other officials, said Burhan Celik, an Ottawa-area man working on Celil's behalf.
Celik, who began making calls to the government last Friday, said a consular official told him there may be bilateral agreements between Uzbekistan and China that supersede any protection Celil's Canadian passport could offer.
Foreign Affairs acknowledged that a Canadian citizen was being detained, and that the family has been granted consular assistance, but cited privacy laws in declining to provide specifics on the case.
"We are in touch with the wife, who is the next of kin," said spokeswoman Kim Girtel.
"I can assure you that everything that is possible to be done is being done."
While the family has spoken with consular officials, Celil said they were able to offer little information on her husband.
"I have been in the consulate in Tashkent, but they didn't see (my husband) and they didn't talk with him yet," Celil said.
"(The Uzbekistan government) said they will not send (him) to China, but we are afraid because we don't believe them. We are very afraid about that."
The family says Huseyincan Celil, 37, was a political activist fighting for the rights of the Uighur population in Xinjiang province, in northwestern China, when he was arrested there and tortured.
Authorities in Beijing view the region as a potential powder keg of separatist sentiment fuelled by the Uighurs, who are Muslim.
Celil escaped from prison in 1998, and fled to Uzbekistan and Turkey before coming to Canada as a refugee in 2001. He became a Canadian citizen late last year.
His wife and three of his children, all Canadian citizens who have lived since 2002 in Burlington, some 60 kilometres west of Toronto, were in Tashkent when he was taken and remain there with relatives, who are awaiting news of his condition.
Two of the children were born in Canada, while the third was born in Turkey.
Celil also has three other children that he was forced to leave behind when he fled China, said Seyit Aydogan, a Hamilton man helping alert the media to his friend's plight.
Celil travelled to Tashkent last month in the hopes of reuniting his family, Aydogan said.
He was renewing his visitor's visa on March 26 at a government office in Tashkent when he was arrested, his wife said.
"I couldn't talk with him; they didn't allow it," she said before pleading: "Please help me."
In a report published last month, the United Nations found that torture by authorities remains common in China. A UN investigator based his findings on visits to detention centres in Beijing, Tibet and Xinjiang province in late 2005.
Uzbekistan, a former republic of the Soviet Union, is a close ally of Beijing.

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