‘China has secret jail in Dubai, holds Uyghurs’ – News Vibe24

    'China has secret jail in Dubai, holds Uyghurs' - Times of India
    DUBAI: A young Chinese woman says she was held for eight days in a Chinese secret detention facility in Dubai along with at least two Uighurs, in what may be the first evidence that China operates a so-called “black space” across its borders.
    The woman, 26-year-old Wu Juan, was on the run to avoid extradition back to China because her fiancé was considered a Chinese dissident. Wu told the Associated Press that she was abducted from a hotel in Dubai and held by Chinese officials in a villa turned into a prison, where she saw or heard two other detainees, both Uighurs.
    She was questioned and threatened in Chinese and forced to sign legal documents accusing her fiancé of harassment, she said. He was finally released on June 8 and is now seeking asylum in the Netherlands.
    While “black sites” are common in China, Wu’s account is the only evidence known to experts that Beijing has created one in another country. Such a site would reflect the way China is increasingly using its international influence to hold back or repatriate foreign nationals, whether they are dissidents, corruption suspects or ethnic minorities such as Uighurs.
    The AP could not independently confirm or deny Wu’s account and could not pinpoint the exact location of the black site. However, reporters saw and heard confirmations, such as stamps on her passport, a phone recording of a Chinese official asking her questions, and text messages she sent from prison to a pastor helping the couple.
    China and Dubai have not responded to many phone calls and requests for comment.
    Yu-Jie Chen, an assistant professor at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, said she had not heard of a Chinese secret prison in Dubai and that such a facility in another country would be unusual. However, he also noted that he would agree with China’s efforts to do what it can to bring back select citizens, both through formal means such as signing extradition treaties and through informal means such as visa waivers or family pressure. home.
    “(China) was not really interested in contacting her until recent years,” said Chen, who oversees China ‘s international legal action.
    Chen said the Uighurs were extradited or returned to China, which held the predominantly Muslim minority as a suspected terrorist even for relatively harmless acts such as prayer. Wu and her fiancé, 19-year-old Wang Jingyu, are not Uighurs but rather Chinese Han, the majority ethnic group in China.
    Dubai has a history as a place where Uighurs are interrogated and deported back to China, and activists say Dubai itself has been linked to covert interrogations. Radha Stirling, a lawyer who founded the Dubai-based advocacy group, said she had worked with about a dozen people reportedly being held in villas in the UAE, including citizens of Canada, India and Jordan but not China.
    “There is no doubt that the UAE has detained individuals on behalf of foreign governments with whom it is an ally,” Stirling said. “I do not think they would shrug their shoulders at all at the request of such a powerful ally.”
    However, Patrick Theros, a former US ambassador to Qatar and now a strategic adviser to the International Gulf Forum, described the allegations as “completely out of character” for the Emirates.
    On May 27, Wu said, she was interrogated by Chinese officials at her hotel and then taken by Dubai police to a police station for three days. On the third day, he said, a Chinese man posing as Li Xuhang came to visit. He told her he worked for the Chinese consulate in Dubai and asked her if she had received money from foreign groups to act against China.
    Li Xuhang is listed as Consul General on the website of the Chinese Consulate in Dubai. The consulate did not respond to multiple calls for comment and to speak directly to Lee.
    Wu said she was handcuffed and put in a black Toyota. Half an hour later, she was brought into a white three-story villa, where the rooms had been converted into individual cells, she said.
    Wu was transported to her cell, with a heavy metal door, a bed, a chair and a white fluorescent light that was on all day and night. He said he was interrogated and threatened several times in Chinese.
    He saw another detainee, a Uighur woman, while waiting to use the bathroom once, he said. For the second time, he heard a Uighur woman shout in Chinese: “I do not want to return to China, I want to return to Turkey.” Wu identified the women as Uighurs, she said, based on their characteristic appearance and accent.
    The guards also gave her a phone and a sim card and ordered her to call her fiancé and Pastor Bob Fu, head of ChinaAid, a Christian non-profit organization that helped the couple.
    Wang confirmed to the AP that Wu had called and asked for his position. Fu said he received at least four or five calls from her during this time, some to an unknown Dubai phone number, including one where she was crying and almost incoherent. The AP also looked at the text messages that Wu sent to Fu at that time, which are unrelated and unstable.
    The last thing Wu kidnappers demanded of her, she said, was to sign documents proving that Wang was harassing her.
    “I was really scared and had to sign the documents,” he told the AP.
    After Wu was released, she flew to Ukraine, where she was reunited with Wang. Following threats from Chinese police that Wang could face extradition from Ukraine, the couple fled to the Netherlands again. Wu said she misses her homeland.
    “I discovered that the people who deceive us are Chinese, that our compatriots are harming our compatriots,” he said.

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