Tuhan, who’s utilizing a pseudonym to guard her identification from the Taliban, is caught between a homeland the place Uyghurs are going through rising repression, and an adopted nation the place they’re thought-about outsiders.
What worries them most is that they could possibly be deported to China.
Former detainees allege they had been subjected to intense political indoctrination, pressured labor, torture, and even sexual abuse. China vehemently denies allegations of human rights abuses, insisting the camps are voluntary “vocational coaching facilities” designed to stamp out non secular extremism and terrorism.
Tuhan stated she fears what is going to occur to her and her household in the event that they’re pressured to return.
“All these previous years, life was tough … However what is occurring now could be the worst,” she stated, referring to the Taliban takeover. “It’s only a matter of time earlier than (the Taliban) discover out that we’re Uyghurs. Our lives are at risk.”
Tuhan was simply 7 years previous when she and her dad and mom fled Yarkand, an oasis on the traditional Silk Street close to the Chinese language border with Afghanistan.
Lots of them fled China after the Communist Social gathering took management of Xinjiang in 1949. Some — like Tuhan — migrated within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, through the chaos of the final years of the Cultural Revolution, crossing mountain passes within the south of Xinjiang to hunt refuge, Roberts stated.
Most of the Uyghurs now maintain Afghan citizenship, however their identification playing cards nonetheless determine them as Chinese language refugees — together with second era immigrants, based on an ID photograph shared with CNN and accounts of two Uyghurs.
Abdul Aziz Naseri, whose dad and mom fled Xinjiang in 1976, stated his ID nonetheless identifies him as a “China refugee,” despite the fact that he was born in Kabul.
Naseri, who now lives in Turkey, stated he has collected the names of greater than 100 Uyghur households who wish to flee Afghanistan.
“They’re afraid from China, as a result of the Taliban was coping with China behind the door. And they’re afraid to (be) despatched again to China,” he stated.
A “good buddy”
There’s motive for Uyghurs in Afghanistan to be nervous, say consultants.
In July, a Taliban delegation paid a high-profile go to to Tianjin, the place they met with Chinese language International Minister Wang Yi.
Wang referred to as the Taliban “an essential navy and political pressure in Afghanistan” and declared that they might play “an essential position within the nation’s peace, reconciliation and reconstruction course of.”
“China is an important and robust nation in our neighborhood, and we now have had very optimistic and good relations with China previously,” Zabihullah Mujahid stated. “We wish to make these relations even stronger and wish to enhance the mutual belief stage.”
Roberts stated Uyghurs’ fears the Taliban might deport them to China to realize extra favor with Beijing had been authentic.
“(The Taliban) have numerous causes to attempt to ingratiate Beijing by way of gaining worldwide recognition, by way of getting monetary help on the time when a lot of the worldwide neighborhood just isn’t giving them monetary help,” he stated.
Tuhan’s concern over probably being pressured to return to China is deepened by Beijing’s more and more aggressive efforts lately to deliver abroad Uyghurs again to Xinjiang, together with from Muslim international locations.
In a report revealed in June, the Uyghur Human Rights Challenge stated there have been least 395 circumstances of Uyghurs being deported, extradited, or rendered again to China from international locations the world over since 1997.
In a press release to CNN, China’s International Ministry referred to as the Uyghur Human Rights Challenge an “outright anti-China separatist group.”
“The so-called knowledge and stories launched by them don’t have any impartiality and credibility, and should not price refuting in any respect,” it stated.
Cracking down on militants
The Chinese language authorities has an extended historical past of participating with the Taliban, courting again to the late Nineties, when the militant group final managed Afghanistan.
Throughout his July assembly with Taliban officers in Tianjin, Wang, the Chinese language international minister, stated ETIM “poses a direct risk to China’s state safety and territory integrity.”
However consultants say there may be little impartial proof to verify China’s claims of ETIM’s dimension, capabilities and affect — and there are doubts that it nonetheless exists right this moment.
ETIM began as a small group of Uyghurs who got here to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in 1998 with the intent to determine an insurgency in opposition to Chinese language rule, based on Roberts.
“They have been very prolific by way of producing movies threatening Beijing, however there is not any proof of them having the ability to perform any assaults inside China,” Roberts stated.
However the Chinese language authorities has continued to make use of the existence of the TIP — which Beijing nonetheless refers to by the identify ETIM — to spotlight the specter of terrorism and justify its ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang, stated consultants and Uyghur activists.
“Why ship a buddy?”
Now in her early 50s, Tuhan lives in northern Afghanistan, making a residing by tailoring individuals’s garments, whereas her youngsters do odd jobs, like portray neighbors’ homes, for no matter cash they’ll get.
However even common individuals like her might discover themselves swept up in Beijing’s marketing campaign in opposition to terror teams.
Roberts stated it’s unclear that TIP has a major presence in Afghanistan, though a small variety of its members are believed to be residing within the nation. If the Taliban had been to deport anybody to China, it might most definitely be bizarre Uyghurs quite than the TIP members they’ve had long-term relations with, he stated.
“In the event that they wish to present Beijing they had been being receptive to its calls for (for repatriation), why ship a buddy they know after they might simply ship any random Uyghurs in Afghanistan and recommend they’re a risk to Beijing?” Roberts stated.
Regardless of having lived for many years in Afghanistan, the Uyghurs are thought-about outsiders, and in contrast to hundreds of individuals airlifted to security by the US and its allies, they don’t have any nation to assist negotiate their exit.
“They do not actually have anyone to advocate on their behalf, to assist them get in a foreign country,” Roberts stated.
Tuhan stated she and her household do not even have passports, so that they have restricted choices to depart Afghanistan, even when one other nation was keen to take them.
“They do not give passport without spending a dime, and we won’t afford it. However now they’ve stopped issuing the passports anyway,” she stated.
“It has been 45 years since we fled right here. We have now grown previous with out seeing a very good day,” she stated. “Hopefully our children might have a greater life. That is all we wish. We simply wish to be saved from this oppression.”
Arslan Khakiyev and James Griffiths contributed to this report.