In three different corners of the world – China, Egypt and Ethiopia – three Canadian citizens languish in prison. Each has very likely been tortured. Each is at very real risk of being tortured again. None faces any prospect of gaining their freedom soon. All seem to have been forgotten. Each deserves more from their government.
Huseyin Celil has been in prison in China since the end of June 2006. His wife and four children in Burlington have endured anxious fear for his safety ever since. Celil is an ethnic Uighur. In the far western reaches of China a decades-old campaign of brutal repression against the Uighur people has intensified in recent years. Torture, unjust imprisonment and other abuses abound. Celil thought he had escaped to safety. But he was surreptitiously arrested and sent back to China while visiting with his wife's family in nearby Uzbekistan. He has known nothing but injustice ever since. Last year, after a blatantly unfair trial, he was sentenced to a life term in prison. He believes that the Uighur people's rights should be respected. He has been convicted of being a "splitist", a Chinese government euphemism for terrorist.