A Turkish court has rejected Beijing’s request to extradite Uyghur religious teacher Abduqadir Yapchan to China to face the “terrorism” allegation, his lawyer said, ending years of legal detention and limbo under the threat of harsh Chinese sanctions.
A secret hearing at the Istanbul Çağlayan Judicial Palace on Thursday dismissed his case, citing the lack of credible evidence, his lawyer said.
“China’s request to extradite Mr. Abduqadir has been rejected by the judge,” said his lawyer, Mehmet Anas.
“In an earlier trial, Mr. Abduqadir was banned from going abroad, and the decision was reversed. Mr. Abduqadir is now free,” the lawyer added.
“In order to disturb my peaceful life and disturb the order of East Turkestan, China has pressured other governments with accusations of slander of terrorism against me,” 62-year-old Yapchan told the Service Uyghur of RFA.
“Today, all Chinese slander, that is, deception against me and against the people of East Turkestan, has been stopped,” he added. “We must fight together against China’s genocide and the crime against humanity in East Turkestan.”
East Turkestan is the Uighur name for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in western China, where they aspired to reestablish an independent state that briefly existed before its founding. Communist China in 1949.
Yapchan, who was granted political asylum by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and lived in Istanbul for 18 years, fled China in 1998 with a fake passport obtained in order to travel to Saudi Arabia. Suneo joins Haj, a pilgrimage made by devout Muslims.
In the years since the Kashgar natives left China, the persecution of the Uyghurs has worsened significantly, with the detention of approximately 1.8 million Turkic Muslims in detention camps since five. 2017 and other policies prompted the US government and some Western parliaments this year to designate abuse in the XUAR part of the state-backed genocide.
The ETIM allegation
Hidayatullah Oguzkhan, president of the International Union of East Turkestan Institutions and President of the East Turkestan Association for Education and Cooperation, said the court’s decision was significant for Uyghurs facing the threat. threaten an extradition treaty between China and Turkey, home to 50,000 Uyghurs.
“This decision means that Turkey is moving in the direction of East Turkestan, taking into account the values and sensitivities of the people of East Turkestan,” he told RFA.
“Four years ago, China asked Turkey to extradite Abduqadir Yapchan by falsely accusing him of being a ‘terrorist’, and he was put on trial many times during those four years,” said Oguzkhan. .
“The court today rejected China’s request for the extradition of Abduqadir Yapchan. All restrictions have been lifted and his trip outside of Turkey will no longer be hindered by the decision to close. this case again, “he added.
China has accused Yapchan of being part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group that the US State Department removed from its list of terrorist organizations last October because, they said ” for more than a decade, nothing to be trusted. proof that ETIMs still exist. “
China often refers to exiled Uighur activists as members of the ETIM as part of an attempt to discredit their ongoing human rights abuses in the region and advocate for Their story is that the Uyghurs in XUAR lead a happy life under Beijing’s rule, while the ETIM promotes separatism and directs attacks inside China from abroad.
Yapchan was arrested by Turkish police on August 31, 2016 on charges of “terrorism” and was subsequently detained or placed under house arrest.
Ibrahim Ergin, a lawyer, said the Chinese government’s extradition request in 2016 and 2019 was supported by a five-page indictment, but in June 2020, China filed an indictment. 68 pages long.
“The Turkish court confirmed that it could not prove the allegations of the Chinese side and asked the Chinese side to provide more evidence, but the Chinese side did not provide any evidence,” he said.
Beijing put Yapchan on a blacklist in 2003 when it included him on the first list of the country with alleged terrorism and terrorist organizations. All 11 terror suspects and 5 organizations on the list are identified as “East Turkestan” terrorist organizations, such as ETIMs, or individuals.
Yapchan spent 12 years in prisons in China when he was jailed on three separate occasions for taking a class at an underground religious school, spreading separatist ideology and illegally possessing a copy. Sentencing convicted by a Chinese court to another Uyghur activist.
Reported by Arslan Tash and Mamatjan Juma translated for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.