Imam's location unknown

Moved out of Uzbekistan centre
Burlington family fears he'll be killed

Jun. 13, 2006. 01:00 AM

Burlington imam Huseyincan Celil, an advocate for China's Uighur minority group held since April in an Uzbekistan detention centre, has been transferred to an undisclosed location, his relatives say.Celil's wife Kamila Telendibaeva told the Toronto Star that when her father visited the detention centre on Saturday, the guards there told him Celil had been transferred, but they wouldn't provide any details. Telendibaeva said she hasn't been able to sleep since learning of her husband's transfer. "I can't do anything," she said yesterday. "I'm always thinking, where is he?"Celil's family here worries he will be deported to China — which has strong ties with Uzbekistan — and killed. Celil was once imprisoned in China for working on behalf of the minority Uighur population in China's northwest Xinjiang province. He and his family arrived in Canada as refugees in 2001. They settled in Hamilton before moving to Burlington last year. Celil was sentenced to death in absentia by a Chinese court. He is also charged with murder and kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan..Celil was in Uzbekistan to visit his wife's relatives. He was arrested in March while trying to renew his visitor's visa in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, expressed concern about the latest development. "We're quite worried about Mr. Celil's whereabouts and safety right now in any country and that certainly includes a country where human rights violations are rampant like Uzbekistan. "It's precisely at a time when a government is refusing to provide information about a detainee's whereabouts that they're often at the gravest risk. Neve urged the Canadian government to be more involved. "It's a critical time for the Canadian government to be intervening very forcefully at very high levels of both the Canadian and Uzbek governments." Celil's lawyer Chris MacLeod agreed. "The only solution is for the prime minister to authorize a high-level parliamentary delegation ... to go to Uzbekistan with the intention of seeking Celil's release."