Uyghur student not missing in Hong Kong: Amnesty

May 31, 2023
Abuduwaili Abudureheman's university colleagues say he is safe in Seoul
Abuduwaili Abudureheman's university colleagues say he is safe in Seoul

HONG KONG — Rights group Amnesty International has corrected its report alleging a Uyghur student went missing from Hong Kong airport, saying he is "accounted for".

"Abuduwaili Abudureheman... told us he did not travel to Hong Kong, contrary to previous information received," the group's correction read.

Abuduwaili is safe in Seoul, his base for the last seven years, his university colleagues say.

The Hong Kong government is calling on Amnesty to "apologize".

"We will continue to strive to offer support to people who reach out to us when they believe they or their loved ones are at risk," Amnesty said in a correction added to its original report.

Amnesty had claimed on Friday that Abuduwaili had boarded a flight from Seoul to Hong Kong on 10 May, before losing contact with family and friends.

His last correspondence, Amnesty said, was a text message to a friend claiming "he was being interrogated by Chinese police after arriving at Hong Kong airport". The Hong Kong government refuted the allegations at the time.

On Monday, the dean at Seoul's Kookmin University's College of Physical Education - where Abuduwaili is studying for a doctorate - contradicted Amnesty's report in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

Cho Wook-yeon said he had been in constant contact with Abuduwaili, who had recently confirmed with Mr Cho that he was in Seoul.

"Abudureheman has not left Hong Kong and is staying in Korea safely," he said, adding that he was "surprised" to see reports of the disappearance.

A director at the college repeated this account when contacted by the BBC.

The BBC contacted Abuduwaili for a response, but the student has yet to reply.

Amnesty referred the BBC to its corrected statement when asked about the university staff's statements. The rights organisation has yet to respond to follow-up questions on how it verified the initial claims about Abuduwaili and his latest statement to Amnesty.

In response to Amnesty's correction, the Hong Kong government said the organisation had "maliciously smeared" and "slandered" Hong Kong and China, and called for a "sincere apology (made) responsibly".

Beijing has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and possible genocide against the Uyghur population and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in China's north-western Xinjiang region, which are allegations the government strenuously denies.

There are about 12 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and the region is cloaked in a pervasive network of surveillance, including police, checkpoints, and cameras that scan everything from number plates to individual faces.

A landmark UN report released in 2022 accused China of "serious human rights violations" in Xinjiang that "may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity".

It also urged China to release "all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty".

Beijing called the UN report a "farce" arranged by Western powers.

The US, UK and international human rights monitors have accused Beijing of detaining about one million Uyghurs in so-called "re-education camps", separating children from their families and breaking their cultural traditions. — BBC

May 31, 2023
2 hours ago

US-China rivalry spurs investment in space tech

2 hours ago

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to meet King Charles in state visit

2 hours ago

Philippines removes Chinese barrier in contested South China Sea