China may be operating secret prisons outside the country

in August 18th, 2021

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China may be operating a secret jail in Dubai, according to one woman who claims she was detained at a converted villa alongside two Uyghur prisoners. While China denies the accusation, the 26-year-old says she was abducted from her hotel, held for over a week in Dubai, and forced to sign legal documents incriminating her fiancé for harassing her. Her fiancé is being sought out by the Chinese government for openly opposing the country’s official policies.

If her claims are true, the site would be the first evidence that China is operating black sites outside its borders. A military term, black sites are essentially secret jails often known for torturing prisoners. The U.S. has been running CIA-operated black sites following 9/11 as a part of their fight against the “war on terror.” The gruesome interrogation tactics used were shared last year when an American psychologist said he’d force prisoners to stand through sleep deprivation, slap them repeatedly into a wall, and even waterboard them repeatedly. A Supreme Court case is now exploring whether the location of such sites should remain confidential. Regardless of the outcome, it’s difficult to determine the future of black sites as jurisdiction can be questionable and governments worry over political and economic relationships. Still, hope lies in how other governments act against aggressors.

Though current condemnations are shaping up to be inadequate in China’s case, especially when it comes to Uyghurs, the Chinese Muslim minority being held in camps and subjected to torture, starvation, rape, and more. In fact, there have been a number of reports on China seizing overseas Uyghurs fleeing for refuge.

  • In June, lawyers for Uyghur exiles found that such abductions shrunk the Uyghur community in neighboring Tajikistan from 3,000 to just 100 people.
  • The legal team showed a similar trend in Cambodia and had presented both to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a plea to open an investigation against senior Chinese officials. Previously, attempts to open an investigation were denied due to lack of evidence around jurisdiction.
  • And in July, Moroccan authorities arrested a Uyghur activist at China’s request . The 33-year-old had initially fled Turkey after being arrested repeatedly for working on a Uyghur diaspora newspaper online.
  • And any Uyghur activists safely overseas still risk their families back in China. One Uyghur exile living in Washington, D.C. even broke up with her boyfriend after her family at home started being harassed for information on his budding Uyghur rights organization.

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