Missing in China-Still no word from Canadian human rights activist facing death penalty in China

By Sharda Vaidyanath
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Jul 27, 2006

This photo shows Muslim Uighurs in the old quarter of Kashgar of narrow alleys and adobe-style homes, in the far flung outpost of the ancient Silk Road in China's far western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The Central Asian home to Turkic speaking Muslim Uighurs has seen growing numbers of Han Chinese migrants after 55 years of communist domination and an eroding traditional lifestyle. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

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- Canadian Could Face Execution in China Thursday, June 29, 2006

Despite weeks of pressure from the Canadian government, China has yet to release Canadian citizen and Burlington resident Huseyincan Celil, who was arrested because of his political activism on behalf of human rights in China's Xinjiang Province and who faces a possible death sentence.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pamela Greenwell confirmed that he is in Chinese custody but specifics about his whereabouts and well-being are still unknown. Greenwell said that "the communication is ongoing to secure Consular visits."

The Chinese consider Celil "a terrorist" and that is very worrying, said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty Canada, which launched a letter writing campaign on Celil's behalf in April when he was extradited by Uzbekistan to China.

Celil, 37, was visiting his in-laws in Uzbekistan, accompanied by his wife and children, when authorities arrested him on March 27, and secretly deported him to China roughly a month ago. Neve said, "obviously he didn't think the risk was serious." Amnesty is in touch with his family and the situation for his pregnant wife is "very stressful." Neve said.

Neve added that the Canadian government needed "a very intense and comprehensive strategy" to deal with this case and that Canadians must maintain high level pressure to secure Celil's release. Neve said, "It is precisely at such a time when you are held in incommunicado detention that the risk of serious human rights abuses, most particularly torture, exists." He explained that torture was very commonplace in China, a country that he said routinely victimized weak detainees.

Celil, who worked for the human rights for the Muslim Uighur minority of China's northwest Xinjiang Province, fled China's persecution of that community in 1994 and was sentenced to death in absentia for his political activism. He came to Canada in 2001. After obtaining refugee status, he subsequently became a Canadian citizen, settling with his family of four young children in Burlington.

In many ways, Xinjiang Province suffered a fate similar to Tibet since the predominantly Han Chinese took control of the province in 1956. The discrimination and lack of rights the Uighur Muslim minority faced pushed them towards separation from Mainland China. Huseyincan Celil fought for freedom from Communist control of his people and province and is therefore considered a threat to China.

Uzbekistan, much like other central Asian republics, has a security arrangement with Beijing to turn in outspoken separatists or political activists. According to the Amnesty International website, China is using the War on Terror that began after the September 11 attacks to harshly suppress many political dissidents.


Canadian's detention in China sparks furor

Critics rally outside consulate in Toronto, as secrecy envelops Huseyin Celil

With a report from Reuters

At least once a week three-year-old Abdul Celil picks up the telephone and pretends to talk to his father, Huseyin.

With nothing but a dial tone at the other end, the boy asks how his daddy is and when he's coming home.

He never gets an answer so he asks his mother. She tells him soon but fears that may be a lie.

The truth is Kamila Telendibaeva doesn't know when or even if her husband is coming back to their Burlington, Ont., home. She doesn't even know if he's alive.

"That's my worst fear," she said yesterday outside the Chinese consulate in Toronto.

"I don't know if he's being tortured or killed. I can't talk to him. I don't even know where he is. No one does."

Mr. Celil (pronounced je-lil) became a Canadian citizen last November.

This year he travelled to Uzbekistan to visit his wife's family. He was arrested in March and extradited last month to China, where he could face the death penalty for "separatist" activities.

He is being held in China under a veil of secrecy. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Beijing will not say where Mr. Celil is and won't even acknowledge his Canadian citizenship.

He hasn't spoken with his family or his lawyer since his arrest.

Critics are calling the official Canadian response too slow and too weak.

"The Canadian embassy in Beijing has not done everything I wish they would do to express our distress," said Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat based in China.

"I feel the ambassador should be more involved in the case. We need to be speaking to the foreign ministry and finding out where Mr. Celil is and ensure his rights are being respected."

Ms. Telendibaeva, who is seven months pregnant with her fourth child, said she is exhausted by efforts to find her husband.

At a protest yesterday, she joined about 20 people shouting "Shame on China" in an effort to raise awareness about the case.

Mr. Celil was born in China's far-western Xinjiang province. He is a Uighur -- a Muslim, Turkic-language minority group that has long fought with the Chinese government for greater freedom.

Before his arrest, Mr. Celil was an imam at a Hamilton mosque and studying accounting at Mohawk College. Family and friends say he is a devoted husband.

Cihan Aydin describes him as a mentor.

"He's just so peaceful and is always looking to help people however he can," said Mr. Uildirim, 30, who asked Mr. Celil to be the imam at his wedding.

"He taught me a lot and was there when anyone needed him."

Chinese officials say Mr. Celil is a terrorist who, among other things, helped assassinate a political leader in Kyrgyzstan.

In 1994, he was arrested in China on charges of forming a political party, his wife said. After serving just a month in prison, he escaped, eventually buying false documents to enter Uzbekistan.

That is where the couple met, while he was working as a fabric salesman in 1998. They married a year later and spent two years in Turkey before coming to Canada as refugees in 2001.

Meanwhile, in China, a court sentenced Mr. Celil to death in absentia for his alleged role in the anti-government political movement.

Amnesty International yesterday slammed the Chinese government for failing to uphold basic human rights. It also called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally address the issue before the situation deteriorates.

"I think we are worried that we are not yet seeing a firm and assertive response now that [Mr. Celil] is in China," said Alex Neve, general secretary of Amnesty International Canada.

"We need our highest levels of government involved."

Mr. MacKay wouldn't disclose the government's next move, only saying it's doing everything it can.

"The Chinese won't acknowledge it . . . When you mention his name -- we've approached the ambassador, we've approached the foreign minister -- what they say is 'Oh, do you mean that terrorist, that Uighur terrorist?' " the Foreign Minister said.

In the meantime, Ms. Telendibaeva waits and worries about her husband's fate.

"I don't know what to do any more," she said. "I want him to see his baby but I don't know if he will. We need help. I think the government is our only hope."

One Weak Rally For Brother Huseyincan Celil that was a shame

A rally had taken place in front of the Chinese Consul in Toronto. Unfortunately, more then supporters and politicians there were media personals.

In contrast, that should not have the outcome of our contributions. There were merely 20 people who mostly Turkish-Canadians neither Uyghurs nor Canadians even though rally organized by Uyghur Canadian Association that claimed its efforts respectful on the cause of the brother Celil. This might be the result of complex issues of our society in general which confuse us sometimes in application.

Earlier our friends and supporters in Ottawa via www.huseyincelil.com and brothers who organized rally last Tuesday the 18 with conclusion no action due to the sabotage they report that we believe this rally would concluded with more supporters.

This showed us how politics would be a dysfunctional and harmful tool in the hands of the people who are not capable of, which same result might cause by the people who ideologically oppose for the cause of our brother Husyincan and sadly His condition remains unknown.

As a community we should be more concern of our struggles.


NDP calls for diplomatic delegation to secure Celil's release from China

China mum on fate of detained Canadian

Demands for legal consular access denied more than three weeks into disappearance

BEIJING -- More than three weeks after a Canadian citizen vanished into Chinese police custody, Chinese authorities are rejecting all of Canada's requests for information on the fate of the 37-year-old man.

The prisoner, Huseyincan Celil, was allowed into Canada as a political refugee in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen. But he was arrested in Uzbekistan on March 27 and extradited last month to China, where he could face the death penalty for alleged "separatist" activities in a Muslim province.

For three weeks, the Canadian government has been trying to get access to Mr. Celil to give him the consular service that any imprisoned Canadian is entitled to receive. But Chinese authorities are refusing to give any details of his whereabouts, even though they are obliged under international law to permit consular access to a foreigner who is detained in their custody.

The Globe and Mail has also made repeated requests for information about Mr. Celil to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security over the past several weeks, but both ministries have refused to comment.

The only hint of his fate has come from a Chinese newspaper, which mentioned his case as an example of China's fight against "terrorism."

The Canadian embassy in Beijing has confirmed that it has failed to obtain any details of Mr. Celil's fate or whereabouts, even after three weeks of requests and a formal diplomatic note -- one of the toughest actions that a government can take without affecting its relations with another country.

"We are making every effort to obtain immediate consular access to Mr. Celil in China," a spokeswoman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry said recently. "We will continue efforts to confirm Mr. Celil's well-being and to ensure he is afforded due process and his rights are protected."

Mr. Celil was arrested in China in the mid-1990s for his work on behalf of the Uighur people, the Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province of western China. He was sentenced to death in absentia for founding a political party to work for the Uighurs. After escaping from China, he travelled to Turkey and came to Canada as a refugee in 2001.

Chris MacLeod, the lawyer for Mr. Celil's family in Burlington, Ont., says the Canadian government is not taking enough action in the case.

"It's very troubling," he said in an interview. "A Canadian citizen is being punted around like a football. He travels to Uzbekistan and finds himself in the interior of China. It's unbelievable."

Mr. MacLeod is seeking a visa to enter China to search for Mr. Celil. He also wants Canada to send an official envoy to China to pursue the case.

"Diplomatic notes just aren't going to solve this," he said. "Canada hasn't taken any significant steps yet. We're a country of immigrants and refugees, and there should be an onus on the Canadian government to take a clear stand in protecting him. We should be a safe haven for people who are persecuted elsewhere."

Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uighur Canadian Association, said the Chinese government seems to be saying that Mr. Celil is still a Chinese citizen, even though the Chinese constitution specifies that someone who gains citizenship in a foreign country automatically loses Chinese citizenship.

"If this loophole opens, there are a million Chinese-Canadians who could be punished by China," he said.

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China who is now a political scientist at Brock University, said the Chinese authorities are using the Celil case to send "a message of disdain" to the new Conservative government in Ottawa.

"China has developed greater confidence of its role in the world in recent years," Mr. Burton said in an interview, "and sees Canada as less and less important to its national interests."

He criticized the Canadian embassy for failing to act strongly enough. "I cannot but think that if Mr. Celil was not a Uighur-Canadian, the embassy would be much more vigorous in pursuing this matter."







Uyghur Community in Toronto will have a peaceful rally in front of the Chinese Consulate General on Tuesday July 20, 2006 at 01.00pm

Please advise your friends to take part in the rally.

Chinese Consulate General
240 St. George Street,
Ontario M5R 2P4

Take Action


Passport status a mystery

MPs press to help Canadian in China
By Daniel NolanThe Hamilton Spectator(Jul 7, 2006)
A Burlington man appears to be in custody in China without his Canadian passport, raising fears China still regards him as a Chinese national and is ignoring Canadian requests to see him and check on his wellbeing.
China has still not confirmed to Canadian authorities that Huseyincan Celil, who fled China in 1994 because of his political work with the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province, has been in their custody for the past two weeks after being extradited from Uzbekistan.
Calgary Tory MP Jason Kenny, who has taken a personal interest in the case as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's parliamentary assistant, said this follows a diplomatic note, appeals from the Canadian ambassador in Beijing and appeals to the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.
Celil's wife in Burlington said that her brother in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, says Uzbeki authorities have told him Celil's Canadian passport remains in their hands, even after they handed him over to Chinese authorities at the end of June.
"When I heard that, I was really upset and angry," Celil's wife Kamila Telendibaeva said yesterday.
"It's really upsetting. They didn't give his Canadian passport when the government sent him to China. Maybe China didn't want the Canadian passport?"
She and her lawyer Chris MacLeod of Hamilton hope the government can do more to pressure China. MacLeod has appealed to Harper to send an envoy to China. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek New Democrat MP Wayne Marston, his party's human rights critic, also called on Ottawa to do more yesterday.
MacLeod is worried China's lack of response and not taking the passport indicates the father of six is viewed "as a Chinese national who left China and is now coming back to China . . . That fits the bill for China (that) this is not about a Canadian citizen."
Kyrgyzstan, a neighbour of China and Uzbekistan, accuses Celil of being behind two terrorist attacks in 2000, but his friends and family say that's impossible because he was living in Turkey as a refugee. He was sentenced to death in absentia in China for his political work, but Uzbekistan says China has told it he will not face capital punishment. Celil, who lived in Kyrgyzstan before moving to Turkey, came to Canada in 2001. Celil was detained in Uzbekistan in March while he and his wife visited family.
Kenny said Canada has asked Uzbekistan to confirm whether they transferred Celil to China without his passport. He called it a complex problem because China does not recognize dual nationalities. The Foreign Affairs website warns Chinese who have become Canadians that recognition of Canadian citizenship is not automatic.
"These are very pertinent questions," Kenny said. "There are many countries that don't recognize dual citizenship for a national, but we, of course, are treating Mr. Celil as a Canadian who deserves full consular access."
He said the government is looking at other measures to press its case with China.

Diplomacy isn't working

By Robert HowardThe Hamilton Spectator(Jul 4, 2006)
Huseyincan Celil is a Canadian citizen believed to be in a jail cell somewhere in China. It is outrageous that a foreign government will not even say whether it has a Canadian in prison.
China is not even acknowledging it has the Burlington resident. His wife isn't sure he is still alive. That's utterly unacceptable and Beijing must be informed, in the strongest possible language, that Canada will not tolerate denial of basic human rights to Canadian citizens.
China is a trading superpower, which influences how tough other governments are in confronting it on its appalling human rights record. But Ottawa must insist, inside or outside traditional diplomacy, that Canadians are treated in accordance with international standards of justice.
Citizenship doesn't provide immunity against arrest or imprisonment in another country. But it must ensure Ottawa will go to bat for its citizens -- insisting on such basic rights as competent counsel and a fair and transparent judicial process.
Celil is accused by his native China of working for a violent separatist movement in Xinjiang province. He escaped China and received refugee status and later citizenship in Canada. Sentenced to death in absentia by a Chinese court, Celil was arrested in March in neighbouring Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan says he has been sent to China. Beijing is saying nothing.
This is all-too-familiar ground for Ottawa:
* William Sampson was imprisoned without a lawyer, brutally tortured and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia in 2001. Released in 2003.
* Canadian Zahra Kazemi died in Iran during interrogation after being arrested taking photos outside a prison. A medical witness says she was brutally tortured and raped and died of head injuries. No autopsy was ever allowed and the only person ever charged in her murder was acquitted.
* Maher Arar is a Syrian-born Canadian who was held as a terrorism suspect for a year without charges in a Syrian jail.
Diplomacy is traditionally based on notes and niceties. A rapid non-traditional response -- perhaps even a phone call from the Prime Minister's Office to one of Beijing's aging despots -- may be needed to save another Canadian from torture or death. Ottawa needs to act.

Quote of the Day

Harper gets plea to save Canadian

PM to aid detainee in China

Kyrgyzstan: human rights activists stage a picket in front of the Embassy of China

Friday , 07 July 2006
Activists of the Uigur diaspora of Kyrgyzstan and local human rights community staged a picket in front of the Embassy of China in Bishkek on July 5.Protesters' first demand concerned citizen of Canada Huseyincan Celil detained by the Uzbek authorities this March and extradited to China where he was wanted as a religious extremist [see Ferghana.Ru report on June 28]. The Uigurs and human rights activists demanded his release. They also demanded to put an end to harassment of the family of Rabija Kadyr, the head of the Uigur Association in the United States.
The demands to Chinese Chairman Hu Jintao were turned over to Embassy officials, a copy was sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

China’s Islamic Frontier

On June 27 the government of Uzbekistan transferred Huseyincan Celil, now a Canadian citizen, to Chinese custody to await execution. While authorities of the People’s Republic of China charge that Mr. Cecil is guilty of killing Chinese delegates in Kyrgyzstan in 2000, the evidence suggests that Cecil was in fact in Turkey at the time under the direction of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The Toronto Star noted that the man “was sentenced to death in absentia for founding a political party to work on behalf of the Uighur people in Xinjiang province.” Beijing’s insistence on the execution of a man who is likely to be purely a human rights activist is not difficult to explain, but rather illustrative of the anxiety the Chinese Communist Party maintains over the country’s Muslim west.
If China’s west is to be won, it will largely take place in the following decade. The Xinjiang Autonomous Uighur Region, located in China’s northwest, is home to approximately eight million Uighur Muslims – there are several million Hui, Kazakh, and Tajik Muslims as well – and is the likely flashpoint should any ethnic separatist movement threaten the mainland’s territorial integrity. The region’s most radical group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), not only has ties to al-Qaeda, but is also providing the government in Beijing with a pretext for solidifying their control over the province’s Uighur population.
The vast majority of the limited debate that has occurred in the United States on this matter has mistakenly focused on the question of whether the Chinese do indeed have a terrorist problem, and in either conclusion, whether the CCP has manipulated the situation to consolidate their hold on the country’s restive population. While both issues must be taken into account when examining the situation in Xinjiang, the aspect that best encompasses the question of China’s Islamic west is the frontier factor.

The total population of Xinjiang remains relatively sparse. Of China’s 1.3 billion people, only about 20 million live in Xinjiang despite the fact that the province constitutes about one-sixth of China’s total landmass. The region’s expanding importance to China’s economy, the Islamic presence in the region, and the threat of separatist and terrorist organizations have led Beijing to conclude that the country’s northwestern frontier must be tamed.

The government’s handling of their Muslim citizens in the Chinese west has been both authoritarian and effective. Under the “Strike Hard” campaign begun in the mid-nineties, those who have studied in madrassahs abroad are monitored by Chinese authorities, and all material considered subversive is confiscated at the border from those returning from the Central Asia or the Middle East. Executions of suspected terrorists are frequent, while arrests are often made for the slightest potential infraction. Last year more than 18,000 were arrested in Xinjiang for what Beijing classifies as “endangering state security.”

As is the case with all religions in China, few decisions by Muslim leaders are made independent of CCP interference. There is one Islamic seminary in China and all imams must be graduates of this state-run institution. Imams are employees of the state and few actions are conducted without supervision by the official security apparatus or their informers. Such efforts are not limited to Chinese territory. About 350,000 Uighur immigrants live in neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and Beijing has called on these Central Asian states to maintain a firm control of these populations to ensure that none come to pose a threat to China’s hold on Xinjiang.

The People’s Republic of China is among the world’s foremost violators of human rights. This has created a dilemma for Washington in both conducting the war on terror and in its relations with Beijing. In a diplomatic row between the two countries in May, Chinese officials harshly condemned the United States’ decision to send five Chinese Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay to Albania rather than back to their home country. Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao revealed his displeasure when he noted: “This act by the US and Albanian sides is a gross violation of international law and we are strongly opposed to this.” Pressure from Beijing was so strong not to accept these Chinese citizens that Albania was the sole country of more than twenty not to be intimated by the PRC’s demands.

In a piece in The Wall Street Journal on June 27, Uighur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer detailed the nefarious methods used by the PRC in maintaining their uncontested authoritarian rule over Xinjiang. Ms. Kadeer was arrested in 1999 for sending newspaper clippings to the United States and planning to meet with a U.S. congressional delegation in the Xinjiang capitol of Urumqi. After the Bush administration secured her release in March 2005, a stern warning was issued. “Before I left Beijing, Chinese officials warned me that if I spoke out against the plight of the Uighurs, my children and my business would be ‘finished,” wrote Kadeer. Earlier this month Chinese authorities followed through on their word when they beat Ms. Kadeer’s children – allowing the female to call the mother during the beatings so she could hear the suffering – and latter arrested the three on charges of “plotting to split the state” and tax evasion.

While China’s leadership may falsely categorize those seeking human rights and greater autonomy as terrorists, and their methods of control fail to follow acceptable norms, it is clear that the PRC faces a real and legitimate terrorist threat. Islamists in Xinjiang maintain extensive ties to international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda. The leading terrorist organization, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), maintains communications with jihadist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of its more experienced members fought with the mujahadeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and safe houses and cells have been uncovered everywhere from Germany to Pakistan. In fact, in late June, Chinese diplomats in Pakistan wrote the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they had information that members of ETIM were operating in Pakistan and maintain plans to kidnap them.

Not only do Xinjiang Islamists operate in a diverse variety of states, but foreign extremists have sought refuge in the radical sectors of China’s Uighur community as well. Chinese authorities have captured Taliban militants in Xinjiang, and there have been reports that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan maintains a cell in the province. It is also worth noting that outside terrorist groups come to Xinjiang not because of a perceived regional lawlessness, but because they expect to find elements in the Muslim community that will harbor them.

Extremist groups in Xinjiang also look to foreign terrorist organizations to draw inspiration for their propaganda efforts. According to Rohan Gunaratna and Kenneth George Pereire in the most recent issue of the China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, “ETIM, and associated groups, have learned from groups, such as the Chechen terrorists, to exploit Western human rights and humanitarian associations, to assist various activities.” Thus, the organization’s principle propaganda outlet is strategically based in Munich where the group hopes to capitalize on European liberalism.

On occasion ETIM has released videos that appear to emulate those produced by al-Qaeda. Footage of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center has been celebrated in these videos and one such propaganda piece claims that the group has brought down a Chinese plane. While this claim has not been substantiated and is likely a fabrication, some analysts believe that the PRC’s efforts to contain ETIM’s profile – as well as limit the dissemination of information that could discourage human and capital investment in the region – provide for the possibility that such an event could have occurred.

The Chinese labeled ‘three evils’ of terrorism, separatism, and extremism may be a burden to the leadership in Beijing, but they also play to the CCP’s benefit. Chien-peng Chung, an Assistant Professor of Politics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, noted in CEF Quarterly: “For all their collective malfeasance, it must be admitted that the ‘three evils’ offer rather good mass media propaganda for the PRC government to keep ethnic demands on the defensive, dismiss foreign scrutiny … and perhaps most importantly, sustain the unity of the Han Chinese ethnicity.”

The Han Chinese – the national majority constituting 92 percent of China’s population – are just beginning to settle China’s northwest in large numbers, but the demographics of Xinjiang have already greatly been altered in the last half-century. As was noted by the BBC, in 1950 Uighurs made up 94 percent of Xinjiang’s population, whereas today they are estimated to be just less than half. Nevertheless, Chinese officials maintain that they possess no plans to dilute the influence of Muslim Uighurs in the province as one official recently suggested: “There's very little difference in the ethnic balance between now and the early 1950s,” and Beijing’s encouragement of westward migration “certainly isn’t an issue of moving Han people to Xinjiang.”

Beijing’s lack of sincerity in their statements regarding the demographic implications of the Han Chinese settlement of the country’s northwest frontier is an inevitable result of the government seeking to avoid alarming Xinjiang’s Uighurs. The state has taken measures to contain any such future developments where “reactionary” elements may attract widespread support. This is largely being accomplished by Han migrations to Xinjiang. As Chien-peng Chung stated in his aforementioned work, “the government has been promoting an unstated but deliberate policy of ethnic encirclement by authorizing Han settlements in neighborhoods separate from, but close to, Uighur” communities.

The emphasis on maintaining a firm grip on the situation in Xinjiang is not only aimed at preventing a popular secessionist movement, but it also represents a concerted effort to ensure the economic stability of the region. The province of Xinjiang is becoming increasingly important to China’s economic growth, and its geographic location bordering Central Asia and Pakistan ensures the region’s vital role as a gateway for energy resources. While the Xinjiang is a significant producer of domestic coal and oil, it is also essential for the expanding quantities of oil and natural gas imported from Central Asia that must pass through the province on their way to China’s high consumption eastern cities. With Beijing’s efforts to secure energy resources across the globe, it is doubtful they will ease their grip on Xinjiang anytime soon.

China is settling its west and is likely to achieve success in bringing both economic prosperity and repression of regional autonomy to Xinjiang. Beijing and the region’s Islamic terrorists will continue to clash, and as Henry Kissinger stated during the Iran-Iraq War, it’s a shame they both can’t lose. But one thing is for certain: there will be many more Huseyincan Celil’s caught in the struggle for China’s Islamic frontier.

China: More Security for Envoys in Region

Published: July 4, 2006
Chinese officials have urged Central and South Asian countries to increase security for Chinese diplomats after the deportations of Uighurs to China from neighboring countries. Uzbekistan announced last week the deportation of Huseyincan Celil, a Uighur in exile from China. Beijing says he is a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which it calls a terrorist group. Mr. Celil was arrested in Uzbekistan in March and faces the death penalty if put on trial in China. In May, Kazakhstan deported two Uighurs to China to face charges of terrorism and sedition. Uighurs, who are Muslim, are half the population of Xinjiang Province, on the border with Kazakhstan.

Update on Uyghur in Uzbekistan, Husein Dzhelil or Celil

I received this from Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to my letter about Husein Celil. This is the first time I have received a response from authorities when I've written about a prisoner of conscience. Of course the difference here is that Canada is not the perpetrator in this case, but rather trying to free Husein Celil. Still, I am impressed that Canada took the time to respond to me. Here you can read about Husein Celil and email/mail your own letters on his behalf, to Canada (where he is a citizen) and Uzbekistan (where he is being held and likely to be extradited to China for execution).
I would be curious to hear whether other activists have received responses from authorities concerning any human rights concerns.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G2

May 15, 2006

Ms. Celia Llopis-Jepsen

Dear Ms. Llopis-Jepsen:

This is in response to your email of April 26, 2006, in which you
express concerns regarding the detention of Mr. Huseyincan Celil, in Uzbekistan.

I wish to assure you that officials of Foreign Affairs Canada in
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in Moscow, Russia, and in Ottawa, are aware of Mr. Celil's case and have been working tirelessly towards a resolution. Officials are actively continuing their diplomatic efforts and are in regular communication with Mr. Celil's family.

The Consular Affairs Bureau is mandated by the Privacy Act, which
prohibits the disclosure of personal information by a government department or agency unless the consent of the individual(s) who are the subject of the information has been obtained. Any personal information cannot be disclosed to unauthorized parties without the explicit consent of the individual(s) concerned.

As you can appreciate, the Canadian government has a legal obligation to safeguard the privacy of Canadian citizens. We would like to stress, however, that the Government of Canada is pursuing this matter very seriously in order to bring an end to Mr. Celil's detention in Uzbekistan.

Thank you for writing and taking the time to express your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Janice Hayes
Ministerial Correspondence Division


Family losing hope for missing Canadian

Harper has yet to respond, they say
Ex-activist may be in Chinese prison

Jul. 5, 2006. 10:44 AM



After 100 days since Huseyincan Celil was taken into foreign custody, questions still swirl around his disappearance, his whereabouts and the Canadian government's response.

The Chinese-born Muslim refugee is a Canadian citizen and father of six who has been shuttled between captors so secretively that his family isn't even sure he's still alive.

Aside from comments from Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay that his office began trying months ago to secure Celil's release, Ottawa has barely acknowledged the fact the Burlington imam and former political activist is a prisoner whose prospects turned grim when he apparently surfaced in Chinese custody last week. He faces a death sentence there.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not responded to a letter sent last week by Celil's Hamilton-based lawyer, Chris MacLeod, requesting he send a special envoy to secure Celil's release. Harper's help, Celil's family says, is their only hope.

Sandra Buckler, Harper's spokeswoman, said the letter was received. She could not say how long it will take Harper to respond, adding that response time varies depending on how many ministries are involved.

The case against Celil, who became a Canadian citizen last year, is confusing and complex. It involves allegations that he has multiple aliases, and that he used at least one of them to assassinate a political leader and commit terror-related crimes in Kyrgyzstan and China.

Celil's lawyer has deemed the allegations bizarre, and says he has documents to prove his client's innocence. It's unclear whether Ottawa has its own information on Celil's alleged crimes, or whether, over the past 100 days, he's simply slipped further into the cracks.

The saga of Celil's captivity began when the 37-year-old was arrested on March 27 in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan. He was there with his wife visiting relatives who travelled to see him from nearby China, and was taken into custody when he tried to renew a visitor's visa.

Celil's family said they suspected he was arrested because of Uzbekistan's close ties with China.

Celil was imprisoned in China in the mid-1990s, allegedly for political activities in Xinjiang province. He was connected to the Uyghurs, a minority group of Turkish-speaking Muslims who have been accused by China of leading a violent separatist movement.

After he escaped, Celil was admitted to Canada as a refugee in 2001. While he and his wife were beginning their new life in Hamilton, a Chinese court sentenced Celil to death in absentia.

When he was arrested in Uzbekistan last March, his family began to fear for his life, worrying he would be extradited to China and killed. But for nearly three months, Uzbek officials kept Celil in custody.

They allowed him three consular visits with Canadian representatives. He had no family contact.

But his future was quickly clouded by a statement issued by the Uzbek Embassy in London, suggesting Celil has multiple aliases, including "Guler Dilaver," a Turkish citizen wanted by neighbouring Kyrgyz law enforcement officials for "for membership in terrorism groups, kidnapping, taking hostages and illegal weapon possession."

A pro-government website alleges Dilaver was involved in a May 2000 attack on a state delegation in Xinjiang province. It also alleges he is responsible for the March 2000 killing of Nigmat Baizakov, former head of the Uyghur Society in Kyrgyzstan.

Celil's lawyer argues the charges are a "ruse" because Celil was in a different country at the time.

Seven month's pregnant with the couple's fourth child, Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, said she was told Uzbek authorities were waiting to see if her husband's fingerprints matched those on file in China and Kyrgyzstan before deporting him.

Last week, Uzbekistan confirmed it had turned Celil over to Chinese officials. Telendibaeva began wondering if her husband is even alive. Last week, she began pleading for help. "Only the Canadian government can help to bring my husband back," she said. "They have to do more. They have to do more."

MacLeod said if he doesn't receive a response from the Prime Minister's Office by the end of the week, he'll make the trip to China himself. He said a high-level intervention is necessary not only to free Celil, but also to ensure the safety of other Canadian immigrants travelling abroad. "They need to know that when they get a Canadian passport, they can actually safely leave this country for other countries."

The Canadian government insists it is doing what it can.

Last Tuesday, a diplomatic note — the strongest instrument governments can use to communicate without damaging relations — was hand-delivered to Chinese officials asking about Celil's whereabouts. So far, there has been no official response.

With files from Michael Mainville, the Star's stringer in Moscow

Kyrgyz Uyghurs Protest At Chinese Embassy

Kyrgyz Uyghurs Protest At Chinese Embassy
Kyrgyzstan/Uygurs – Uyghur minority representaives protest outside Chiene embasy in Bishkek,demanding the release of Huseyin Celil, 5Jul2006
Some of the protesters at July 5 picket in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek
BISHKEK, July 5, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Representatives of ethnic Uyghurs living in Kyrgyzstan today demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek to demand the release of an ethnic Uyghur held in a Chinese jail.

Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen, was detained by Uzbek authorities in Tashkent in March and later deported to China.

Beijing accuses Celil of involvement in an attack six years ago on a state delegation in China's western Xingijang Province, the home of Turkic-speaking Uyghurs.

The demonstrators handed over a petition to a Chinese Embassy official and dispersed peacefully after about one hour.

Canada presses China over deported Uighur activist

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is pressing China to reveal what it has done with a Canadian citizen who is also a member of the Muslim Uighur minority, Canada's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Huseyincan Celil, who friends say fled China in the mid 1990s, was arrested in the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan in March. Uzbekistan has told Ottawa it deported Celil to China, the ministry said.

Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs account for about 8 million of the 19 million people in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang. Beijing has waged a long campaign against Uighur separatists, whom it labels terrorists.

Uighur activists say they fear China could put Celil, 37, on trial and then execute him. Celil has three young children in Canada and his wife is pregnant.

"When we were informed by Uzbekistan that Mr. Celil was extradited to China, Canada made immediate representations to the Chinese government ... we will continue to press China to confirm that he is in fact being held there," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Kim Girtel.

The Uighur Human Rights Project, an activist group based in the United States, said it feared Celil was "at extremely high risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and even execution."

Girtel said Ottawa had formally asked Uzbekistan to release Celil on humanitarian grounds.

Canada angered Uzbekistan last year when it agreed to resettle 50 Uzbek refugees, who fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan after troops quelled an uprising.

Uzbekistan: Family Demands Release Of Uyghur Imam Extradited To China

Uzbekistan: Family Demands Release Of Uyghur Imam Extradited To China
By Breffni O'Rourke
China -- Uyghurs (Uighurs) in Xinjiang
Uyghurs in Xinjiang, where Celil is from (file photo)
The family of a Canadian Muslim religious leader extradited from Uzbekistan to China is demanding his release. Imam Huseyincan Celil, an ethnic Uyghur activist, is reportedly facing possible execution. Family lawyer Chris MacLeod told RFE/RL from Toronto that the Canadian government must make the strongest possible representations to Beijing to get him released.

PRAGUE, June 30, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Huseyincan Celil traveled from his home in Canada to Tashkent early this year to meet in the Uzbek capital with three of his children, who still live in China.

But disaster struck on March 27 when Celil was detained by Uzbek authorities apparently acting on a request from China.

MacLeod says that for Beijing to "flagrantly" trample on human rights when it is in the midst of preparing to host the world at the Olympics "is an offense to all freedom-loving people around the world."

Detained And Extradited

Family members visited him regularly in detention in Tashkent until mid-June, when he disappeared. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs this week informed the family that Uzbekistan had extradited him to China.

"This is terrifying news," said Alim Seytoff, the director of the U.S.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project. He called this development "the worst-case scenario."

Seytoff was referring to the harsh treatment Chinese authorities have meted out to Uyghur rights activists and separatists seeking to restore an "East Turkestan" state in what is now China's western Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Stronger Response From Canada?

In the Canadian capital, Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Department spokeswoman Kim Girtel said Canada would continue to press China to confirm that Celil is being held there.

But the Celil family's lawyer, Chris MacLeod, wants a more forceful approach. He told RFE/RL that Canada must let the world know that it should not "mess with Canadian citizens." He said in this case, Uzbekistan has seen fit to turn over a Canadian citizen to China without even consulting Canada.

"We want the Canadian government to very vigorously remind Beijing that 'A,' this is a Canadian citizen, he belongs nowhere other than in Canada; and 'B,' to remind them as well that China is hosting the 2008 Olympics -- a coming together of nations from around the world -- and that it is very inappropriate for them to be detaining Canadian citizens whose only offense has been exercising their right to express themselves," he said.

Uzbekistan, like Russia and other Central Asian republics, has a security agreement with Beijing that human rights groups say commits them to extradite any political dissidents wanted in China who arrive on their territory. China reportedly negotiated these deals with a view to countering the Uyghur separatists.

MacLeod says that for Beijing to "flagrantly" trample on human rights when it is in the midst of preparing to host the world at the Olympics "is an offense to all freedom-loving people around the world."

An Activist For Uyghur Issues

The lawyer denied that Celil had been involved in any acts of violence to further the Uyghur separatist cause.

"His 'crimes' -- if you can call them that -- in China were teaching Uyghur children -- those under the age of 18 -- their Turkic mother tongue, which is an offense; teaching them the tenets of their [Muslim] faith, and speaking out broadly against the oppressive tactics of the Chinese government in its dealings with the Uyghur people," he said.

Celil carried on similar activities in Canada as a Canadian citizen, advising and reminding the Canadian government of what the Uyghur people face in China. It was for this reason that he came onto the "radar screen" of the Chinese government, MacLeod said, and that's "just unacceptable."

However, China reportedly wants Celil on charges relating to an attack six years ago on a Chinese state delegation visiting Xinjiang province. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Further complicating the situation is that Celil's name appears in the sentencing document of Uyghur activist Ismail Semed, who was sentenced to death in 2005 for separatist activities. Celil is described in that document as an accomplice of Semed. It is not clear if Semed has already been executed.

Neither Uzbekistan or China has publicly commented on Celil's case.

Celil fled China in the 1990s for Turkey, and arrived in Canada in 2001 as a refugee.

The 37-year-old Imam has six children (three of whom are in Canada) and his wife, Kamila, is pregnant.

Canadian citizen facing execution in China

Watch the TV Program

Canadian citizen facing execution in China

Updated Wed. Jun. 28 2006 11:21 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

A Canadian citizen faces execution after being extradited from Uzbekistan to China.

Huseyincan Celil, a 37-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen from Burlington, Ont., was sentenced to death in China for human rights work he did on behalf of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province.

According to reports, Celil founded a political party in China to work on behalf of the Uyghur people.

Celil was arrested in March while he and his wife were visiting her family in Uzbekistan.

On Monday morning, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada informed his wife that he had been extradited to China.

"It's terrible they sent him to China. I have no idea whether he's alive or dead," Kamila Celil told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.

Celil said she has had contact with Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney, but she has little reason to believe they can help.

During the four months her husband spent in prison in Uzbekistan, no foreign affairs representatives visited to speak on his behalf, Celil said.

However, according to reports, MacKay sent a diplomatic note to Uzbekistan demanding Celil's return.

The couple has three children together, and another on the way.

Celil said she spent two days in hospital after learning of the most recent development in her husband's situation.

Huseyincan Celil fled China in the mid-1990s and came to Canada in 2001 as a refugee.

The Foreign Affairs department is attempting to establish contact with China regarding Celil's status, and will reportedly demand that an official from the Canadian consulate be allowed to visit him in jail.