Uighur refugees face deportation to China from Turkey


Turkey is threatening to deport Uighur refugees back to China, where they could face imprisonment, after Turkish officials rejected their applications for asylum and long-term residency. Documents obtained by Middle East Eye showed that Turkey has rejected several applications for Uighurs hoping to obtain long-term residency inside the country. Immigration officials did not specify why they had rejected the Uighurs' applications, but said they would be deported within 10 days.Some refugees had applied for their long-term residency in 2017 and told about the outcome a month ago. The rejection papers state that the refugees could reapply but only from their country of origin.

Abuduaini Abulaiti, a Uighur refugee who has lived in Turkey since 2012, reapplied for long-term residency in 2017. He said this request was rejected a week ago, in a letter that stated he had 10 days to leave the country. "When the letter arrived, I was very very shocked that this had happened," Abulaiti told Middle East Eye from his home in Istanbul.

Having gone to Turkey via Malaysia to attend his fathers funeral and escape persecution in China, Abulaiti explained how three of his brothers had gone missing in the last two years. "I had to go to Turkey through Malaysia because taking a direct flight to the country would have caused suspicion from Chinese authorities," said Abulaiti.

"We know that two of my brothers are in the re-education camps [in China] and alive after someone told us, but one of them is still missing, and we don't know whether he is dead or alive.

"I don't know what will happen to me if I go back. I may face the same fate as my brothers."