Wife of Canadian held in Uzbekistan pleads for help

Wife of Canadian held in Uzbekistan pleads for help
Apr. 5, 2006. 06:26 PM
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 residents of Hamilton, 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.”
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs confirmed that a Canadian citizen was being detained in the capital city of Tashkent and that the family has been granted consular assistance.
But 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,” said Celil.
“(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 was a political activist fighting for the rights of the Uighur population in Xinjiang province, in northwestern China, when he was arrested and tortured there.
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, 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 in Hamilton since 2002, were in Tashkent when he was taken and remain there with relatives, who are awaiting news of his condition.
Celil also has three other children that he was forced to leave behind when he fled China, said Seyit Aydogan, a Hamilton resident who alerted the media to his friend’s plight.
Celil travelled to Tashkent last month in the hopes of reuniting his family, said Aydogan.
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 adding the plaintive plea: “Please help me.”
In a report published last month, the United Nations found that torture by authorities remains commonplace in China. A UN investigator based his findings on visits to detention centres in Beijing, Tibet and the Xinjiang province in late 2005.
Uzbekistan, a former republic of the Soviet Union, is a close ally of Beijing.

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