Posts Tagged ‘extradition’

China goes after dissidents abroad

January 18, 2022

On 18 January 2022 a new report by Safeguard Defenders, inspired Al-Jazeera (Erin Hale) to write about how the Chinese authorities are trying to coerce critics thousands of miles from home into returning.

Wang Jingyou was living in Turkey last year when he found that the 7,000 kilometres (4350 miles) between him and his homeland was no obstacle to an offended Chinese state. Wang had left China after voicing his support on TikTok for Hong Kong’s democracy protests, but after he questioned the outcome of an Indian-Chinese border clash on social media in February 2021, mainland authorities sprung into action.

Within half an hour of the post, police in his hometown of Chongqing had visited his parents. Then they detained them. They said Wang, who is in his early twenties, had “slandered and belittled heroes” while also “picking quarrels”, two charges that in China are often used to silence government critics.

“I’m not in China, I’m in Europe,” Wang told Al Jazeera. “I just said something. I didn’t do anything and they put my (name) on a wanted (list) in the government website, in the official media, also in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs too.”

Wang soon found himself on a months-long journey of harassment that saw him detained while flying through Dubai in April 2021 and threatened with deportation to China – which he narrowly avoided when his story became international news. Wang and his fiancée travelled through several countries before they eventually claimed asylum in the Netherlands, but not before China had cancelled their passports.

“We are in the Netherlands, but they also have many, many ways to find us,” Wang said, alleging that even with a Dutch phone number he continues to receive threatening text messages and phone calls.

Chinese paramilitary police in summer unoforms march outside a new museum to the Chinese Commuist Party

Wang’s story may sound dramatic, but it is far from extraordinary in Xi Jinping’s China, according to human rights watchdog Safeguard Defenders, which released a new report on Tuesday on the country’s widespread practice of “involuntary returns”. Such pressure has been used on more than 10,000 alleged Chinese “fugitives” who since 2014 have been coerced into returning from abroad to face detention or prosecution for alleged corruption and other crimes, the report said citing official data.

Methods to “encourage” return can vary from harassment and coercion of friends and family online, to approaching a citizen overseas through Chinese or domestic security agents, and more “irregular” methods like state-sponsored kidnapping, Safeguard Defenders said. In some cases, authorities may freeze family assets or even threaten to remove children from families.

Kidnappings typically occur in countries with a strong relationship with China, like Thailand or Myanmar, but Safeguard Defenders said as many as 10 people may have been kidnapped from among Australia’s large Chinese diaspora in recent years.

The list also includes the 2015 disappearance of five staff members associated with a Hong Kong book store specialising in books banned in China. One bookseller, Gui Minhai, disappeared in Thailand while the others went missing on trips to China, only to later emerge in Chinese detention

China has also made use of Interpol “red notices“, which flag a citizen to police and immigration departments around the world so they can be deported back home, where they face a 99 percent conviction rate if prosecuted, the watchdog said.

“Involuntary returns” have become increasingly common since China first launched an ambitious anti-corruption campaign in 2012, followed by Operation Foxhunt in 2014 to repatriate Communist Party officials facing corruption charges who have fled abroad, and the broader Operation Sky Net in 2015 to target money laundering.

While nominally law-enforcement based, Operation Foxhunt has been described as a “campaign to enforce political loyalty, avoid in-Party factionalism and to more generally instil Party discipline”, Safeguard Defenders said in the report.

Both campaigns have corresponded to a 700 percent jump in Chinese people seeking asylum abroad between 2012 and 2020 as China’s already limited civil and political rights have been curtailed even further under President Xi, the rights group said.

That number does not include the 88,000 Hong Kong people who applied to resettle in the UK in 2021 under a new immigration scheme, after the imposition of a national security law for the Chinese territory that Amnesty says has “decimated” freedoms and rights that Beijing had promised to respect until at least 2047.

More than 175,000 people have been officially recognised as refugees, but that has not kept Chinese authorities from orchestrating “involuntary returns” whether they are government defectors, Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders, political dissidents, or even ordinary citizens like Wang who have fallen afoul of increasingly strict authorities.

Wang says he was just doing what millions of other people do everyday — sharing his views on social media.

“We didn’t do anything against China,” he said. “I wrote something. I never thought they would (begin to) watch me.”

https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/involuntary-returns-report-exposes-long-arm-policing-overseas

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/18/china-critics-overseas-feel-the-long-reach-of-beijing-report

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/18/china-forced-2500-fugitives-back-from-overseas-during-pandemic-report-finds

China – EU investment deal off the rail

May 21, 2021
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing's sanctions were a 'necessary and justified response'
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing’s sanctions were a ‘necessary and justified response’ GREG BAKER AFP

As earlier reported human rights defenders objected to the proposed EU-China investment deal {https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/06/china-eu-deal-what-about-human-rights], now the European Parliament has rejected it. HRW said: “On May 21, only a few months after the conclusion of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), a trade deal between the EU and China, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to freeze its ratification. The deal has been controversial in the Parliament given concerns about forced labor in China, its rushed conclusion, and its lack of human rights protections and redress mechanisms. Beijing’s counter-sanctions against several European lawmakers and institutions managed to unite the European Parliament on CAI like nothing else has, and will now prevent any movement on ratification as long as they remain in place“.

But the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday to refuse any consideration of the EU-China investment deal as long as Chinese sanctions against MEPs and scholars were in place. France24 on 212 May gives China’s expected angry reaction:

China slammed the European Union’s “confrontational approach” after MEPs voted to block a landmark investment deal over Beijing’s tit-for-tat sanctions against EU lawmakers. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing’s sanctions were a “necessary and justified response” to previous EU measures against Chinese officials over human rights concerns in Xinjiang.

China has imposed sanctions on relevant institutions and personnel of the EU who spread Xinjiang-related lies and false information and who have seriously damaged China’s sovereignty and interests,” Zhao said at a regular press briefing.

He urged the EU to “immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, abandon its confrontational approach” and push EU-China relations “back to the right track of dialogue and cooperation”.

Defenders of the pact see it as a much-needed opening of China’s economy to European companies, but it is set to face a difficult ratification process among the 27 member states and European Parliament.

The investment deal aims to open China’s market and eliminate discriminatory laws and practices preventing European companies from competing on an equal footing, according to the European Commission.

EU foreign direct investment in China since 2000 — excluding Britain — amounted to $181 billion. The corresponding sum from China is $138 billion.

Ties between the EU and China soured suddenly in March after an angry exchange of sanctions over human rights concerns.

The EU sanctioned four Chinese officials over suspected human rights violations in China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Beijing responded by imposing its own sanctions against European politicians, scholars and research groups.

Adding to the pressure, about 50 human rights defenders from China who have gone into exile in Europe — including the artist Ai Weiwei — asked the EU on Thursday to suspend extradition treaties with Beijing.

In an open letter to EU leaders, they asked Brussels to freeze or revoke arrangements made by 10 EU member states, including France, Belgium and Spain.

These bilateral treaties “not only present a potential threat to our freedom of movement within the European Union, but to our freedom of association and freedom of expression, as Beijing may seek our extradition for statements we make in Europe”, it said.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/05/20/european-parliament-freezes-trade-deal-china

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210521-china-slams-eu-s-confrontational-approach-after-investment-deal-blocked

Bahrain feels forced to drop extradition request against footballer Hakeem al-Araibi who is on the plane back home

February 11, 2019
That international’s pressure can have a good result – sometimes – is shown in today’s court order in Thailand to release Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi.  Bahrain dropped the extradition request, said the prosecutor working on the case.
Thailand to free Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi
Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 and subsequently received refugee status in Australia [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]

Monday’s decision comes after the 25-year-old footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was jailed for weeks in Bangkok’s Klong Prem Remand Prison. Bahrain wanted him returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia in 2014 for an arson attack that damaged a police station. Al-Araibi denied those charges. See also Craig Foster, Australian footballer and …human rights defender!

Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November at a Bangkok airport while on his honeymoon following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morisson, meanwhile, praised the decision and said al-Araibi was on his way to the airport, where he should arrive in 12 hours from now.

“This is a huge victory for the human rights movement in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia, and even the whole world,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Let’s continue the fight to release all political prisoners who languish in Bahrain’s prisons.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/thailand-free-refugee-bahraini-footballer-hakeem-al-araibi-190211083252299.html

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/02/14/global-sports-groups-new-human-rights-ally-bahrain

 

Craig Foster, Australian footballer and …human rights defender!

January 2, 2019

Football’s power to fight injustice motivates Craig Foster. The former Socceroos captain who played for Hong Kong’s Ernest Borel in the early ’90s is a broadcaster in Australia and also works for Amnesty International as a human rights and refugee ambassador. He is among the most vocal of activists in calling out human rights transgressions in football and sport and is one of the many prominent figures fighting for the release of Bahrain’s Hakeem al-Araibi, an Australia-based refugee footballer who is in a Thai jail awaiting extradition to his home country where he fears torture and persecution. [For some of my other posts on football and human rights, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/football/]

On  Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, Nazvi Careem Nazvi Careem wrote a long piece about Craig Foster’s work and dedication:

And if he ever doubted just how powerful this sport can be, he only needs to recall the heartbreaking words of a young African refugee who had lost everything – fleeing his war-torn homeland after his parents, sibling and other members of his family were killed. “He was involved in a football programme over a period of time. He was very, very quiet and said very little,” said Foster. “He was in a new country and was experiencing psychological difficulties, which is totally understandable. “When he was asked why he liked the programme, he simply said: ‘The only thing that still exists in my life is football. It is the only thing that hasn’t been taken away from me’. And he was crying when he said it.

He [Craig Foster] is among the most vocal of activists in calling out human rights transgressions in football and sport and is one of the many prominent figures fighting for the release of Bahrain’s Hakeem al-Araibi, an Australia-based refugee footballer who is in a Thai jail awaiting extradition to his home country where he fears torture and persecution. (AFC must be held to account if Bahraini refugee player is extradited from Thailand, says ex-Socceroos captain Craig Foster)

…Since retiring as a player in 2002, Foster became involved in social issues related to football, working with disadvantaged, minority and indigenous communities in a variety of programmes. “I’m just finishing my law degree, which has given me some further insight into the challenges of human rights and international refugee law. I feel strongly about these issues and in football, we are at an advantage because we are the most diverse, multicultural community in Australia.

…..Foster, who played for Portsmouth and Crystal Palace in England and also had a stint in Singapore, said he felt an obligation to give something back to the sport. As an ex-player and a broadcaster with the SBS organisation in Australia, Foster is in an ideal position to reach out to the masses. At the same time, he puts his contribution to social issues in perspective, admitting that he is in a position of comfort compared with activists whose lives are on the line in their efforts to effect change.

“Of course, you can’t fight every battle, but there are key ones which take a huge amount time. But the people I have immense respect for are the human rights defenders in their countries….In Australia we have serious human rights issues, with indigenous Australians and also in terms of refugees and arrivals.

Qatar extradited human rights defender Otaibi to Saudi Arabia ignoring Norway’s grant of asylum

June 1, 2017
IMG_1127
On 31 May 2017 ALQST reported that Qatar has extradited the prominent Saudi human rights defender Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Otaibi to Saudi Arabia, even after Norway accepted his application for political asylum.  Otaibi was arrested at Doha International Airport on Wednesday 24 May, 2017 as he was about to travel with his wife to Norway, on travel documents provided by the Norwegians.  Days later, on Sunday, 28 May 28 3 a.m., Otaibi was deported overland to Saudi Arabia via the Salwa border crossing and delivered to the Saudi authorities, who sent him with an escort of Saudi security vehicles to the Dammam Prisons Department.
For more details see the piece referred to below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Edward Snowden can still not collect his award(s)

September 29, 2016

The Norwegian branch of the PEN Club had hoped to honor whistleblower Edward Snowden in Oslo, but a Norwegian court has dismissed a bid for assurances he would not be extradited should he visit Norway to collect the Carl von Ossietzky award which was granted to him in 2014 [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/edward-snowden-gets-another-human-rights-award-in-berlin/]. Read the rest of this entry »

EU Parliament says Snowden is human rights defender

October 30, 2015

Media reported on the EU Parliament’s vote to drop criminal charges against Edward Snowden and to encourage members to block his extradition Read the rest of this entry »

Mourad Dhina, Algerian head of the human rights organization Alkarama detained in France

January 20, 2012

On 17 January 2012, the Geneva-based Alkarama group, which campaigns for human rights in Arab countries, said its executive director Mourad Dhina was arrested and detained in France at Paris-Orly airport. Alkarama spokesman Michael Romig said Dhina appeared before a French magistrate on Tuesday to hear Algeria’s extradition request on decades-old terrorism charges and was then returned to custody. This a complex case with heavy political overtones.Dhina was a former top official in the Islamic Salvation Front (le ‘FIS’), the organisation which was poised to win the Algerian elections in 1992, which then led to an army crackdown and a decade-long bloody civil war, with severe violations from both sides.

Dhina has lived in Switzerland for 20 years, but – contrary to some press statements – he was not a recognized refugee. He is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained physicist who worked at CERN. He became an opponent of the Algerian government following the coup d’état of January 1992 that banned the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), starting the Algerian Civil War. After being spokesman for the Coordination Committee of the FIS, he became head of the Executive Office of the FIS from October 2002 to October 2004, and in 2006 he discretely left the party, but more because he regarded it as ineffective than because he disapproved of its violent methods. In 2007, he co-founded Rachad , an organisation dedicated to overthrowing the Algerian government through mass nonviolent resistance. He rejects any reconciliation with the present regime. According to Le Matin de Dimanche  of 15 October 2006  his position is: “There was a putsch in Algeria in 1992, so I find armed resistance legitimate. I said and I’ll say it again.”

According to a Wikipedia entry he was accused by the former French minister Charles Pasqua of having links with arms dealers, and therefore he left Saint-Genis-Pouilly, Geneva in 1993. When he was sentenced in absentia to twenty years imprisonment in his country he replied “I am honored to have been condemned by tyrants. History, one day, will prove me right”

Because the Algerian Embassy in Bern regularly asked for his extradition, Mourad stated in the same 2006 interview in le Dimanche de Dimanche: «Nous n’avons pas de documents pour voyager. Nous ne pouvons pas quitter la Suisse». In spite of this he appears to have travelled several times through French territory without having been arrested. So, why was he now arrested? And what is the likelihood of him being extradited? Clearly his vehement opposition and use of television aimed at Algeria must anger the Government but that would not be the right ground for extradition. But the timing seems to indicate that there might be such a link. If it is the old charges of terrorism, then it will depend op the strength of the evidence. In this context it is pity that Dhina’s taking distance from the FIS was not accompanied by a clear condemnation of human rights violations also by the FIS itself. Even if one qualifies the Algerian conflict as a civil war, it does not condone violation of humanitarian law by any party. Let’s see what happens!