Morocco: Uyghur rights defender at risk of extradition to China
Photo: Kuzzat Altay
A coalition of human rights NGOs calls on the Moroccan authorities to cancel the extradition proceedings against Yidiresi Aishan and release him from his year-long detention.
One year after his arrest at Casablanca airport, Yidiresi Aishan, also known as Idris Hasan, a Uyghur activist, remains under threat of extradition from Morocco to China, where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
After arriving in Morocco on a flight from Turkey, where he had been living with his family since 2012, Mr. Aishan was arrested the night of July 19-20, 2021 on the basis of a Red Notice issued by Interpol at China's request “for belonging to a terrorist organisation”. In recent years, China has increasingly used the Interpol Red Notice system to stifle dissent.
On July 20, 2021, Mr. Aishan was brought before the prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Casablanca, who ordered that he be remanded in custody in Tiflet prison, pending the decision of the Court of Cassation. Since then, he has remained detained in that same prison.
On December 15, 2021, the Court of Cassation in Rabat issued a favourable opinion on the extradition request, despite the cancellation by Interpol in August 2021 of the Red Notice issued against him on the grounds that it violated its statutes and Mr. Aishan’s filing of an application for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Since that decision, the issuance of an extradition decree by the Moroccan Prime Minister is the only step separating Mr. Aishan from extradition.
The issuance of such a decree would contradict Morocco's international obligations, including the Convention against Torture, which states in article 3 that "no State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."
When living in Turkey, Mr. Aishan reportedly provided translation assistance to other Uyghurs in exile and helped collect testimonies on human rights violations in Xinjiang. As a member of the Uyghur community and given his activism, Mr. Aishan would face real risks of torture and other ill-treatment as well as prolonged arbitrary detention, if forcibly returned to China.
Uyghurs are increasingly experiencing persecution and large scale human rights violations in Xinjiang. Members of the diaspora who are not firmly settled in third countries are facing a real risk of detention and refoulement.
Multiple international bodies have thus called on the Kingdom of Morocco not to extradite Mr. Aishan to China in accordance with the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.
On August 11, 2021, several UN Special Procedures mandate holders sent an urgent appeal to Morocco, recalling the absolute and non-derogable prohibition against returning a person to a place where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
The experts reiterated their call in a statement on December 16, 2021, highlighting the risk of "serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" that Mr. Aishan could face if returned to China.
At the request of MENA Rights Group and Safeguard Defenders, the UN Committee against Torture sent a request for interim measures to the Moroccan authorities on December 20, 2021. In order to prevent irreparable harm to Mr. Aishan, the Moroccan authorities were instructed "not to extradite the complainant [Aishan] to China while his request is under consideration by the Committee”. Mr. Aishan’s case remains pending before the Committee, which has yet to issue a final decision.
In light of the above, we, the undersigned organisations, call on the Moroccan authorities to cancel the extradition proceedings against Mr. Aishan and release him from his year-long detention, which, in the absence of periodic judicial review, individual assessment and credible grounds, may amount to arbitrary detention.
List of signatories:
Alberta Uyghur Association
Australian Uyghur Association
Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
Belgium Uyghur Association
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Campaign for Uyghurs
Center for Uyghur Studies
China Research Institute
Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
East Turkistan Association of Canada
East Turkistan Foundation
European East Turkistan Union
Front Line Defenders
Human Rights Watch
Ilham Tohti Initiative
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Isa Yüsüp Alptekin Foundation
Japan Uyghur Association
MENA Rights group
Norwegian Uyghur Committee
Public Association of Uyghurs “Ittipak” of the Kyrgyz Republic
Society for Threatened Peoples
Sweden Uyghur Union
Swiss Uyghur Association
Teklemakan Uyghur Publishing House
UK Uyghur Association
Umer Uygur Trust Pakistan
Uyghur Academy Foundation
Uyghur American Association
Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia
Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Uyghur Community in Austria
Uyghur Cultural and Education Union
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Uyghur Republican Party
Uyghur Research Institue
Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
Uyghur Science and Education Foundation
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
World Uyghur Congress
World Uyghur Congress Foundation