27th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) A Uyghur student has been missing in Hong Kong for more than two weeks since he sent a message saying he was being interrogated by Chinese police at the city’s airport, a human rights group said Friday. Amnesty International said Abuduwaili Abudureheman, who was born in Xinjiang in western China, traveled to Hong Kong from South Korea to visit a friend on May 10 but has not been heard from since he texted his friend about being interrogated after his arrival.
The human rights group expressed concern about Abudureheman’s safety, given the Chinese government’s track record of committing crimes against humanity against Uyghurs in Xinjiang and its ongoing pursuit of Uyghurs who have traveled overseas. Amnesty International China researcher Alkan Akad said in a statement that the student appears to have been detained and interrogated, raising questions about the Hong Kong government’s possible involvement in human rights violations committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government.
The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a promise that it could retain its Western-style freedoms and autonomy for 50 years. But critics say Beijing is increasing its control over the territory and reducing its liberties.
The United Nations and human rights groups accuse China of detaining a million or more Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim groups in camps where many have said they were tortured, sexually assaulted, and forced to abandon their language and religion. China denies the accusations, which are based on interviews with survivors and photos and satellite images of the Xinjiang region where many Uyghurs live.
Amnesty International said it understood that Abudureheman, who has been studying in Seoul for seven years, was on a Chinese government “watch list” because of his history of overseas travel and urged Hong Kong authorities to reveal his whereabouts. Alkan Akad, the researcher from Amnesty International China, said that Abudureheman is at grave risk of torture based on his ethnicity and religion. If he is detained, he must be provided with access to a lawyer and relatives and protected against any ill-treatment.
The disappearance of Abudureheman has raised concerns about the safety of Uyghurs who travel overseas and the possibility of Chinese authorities targeting them for detention and interrogation. Amnesty International has called on the Hong Kong government to investigate the matter and ensure that Uyghurs are not subjected to human rights violations while in the territory.