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Cambodia to deport Uighur asylum seekers

From Earth Times
Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government has decided to deport 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China despite concerns from human rights groups about their safety, officials said Saturday. The decision to deport the 22 asylum seekers who came from the far western Xinjiang region and arrived in Cambodia last month came days before the arrival of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on an official visit.
"They are not real refugees," Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the German Press Agency dpa. "They will have to leave Cambodia in no later than one week."
The Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang, the site of violent anti-Chinese protests in July, entered Cambodia last month and were given a "people of concern" status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before they were taken into police custody for violating immigration laws.
Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government has decided to deport 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China despite concerns from human rights groups about their safety, officials said Saturday. The decision to deport the 22 asylum seekers who came from the far western Xinjiang region and arrived in Cambodia last month came days before the arrival of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on an official visit.
The Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang, the site of violent anti-Chinese protests in July, entered Cambodia last month and were given a "people of concern" status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before they were taken into police custody for violating immigration laws.
Earlier reports said 22 Uighurs, including three children, arrived in Cambodia overland, but Koy Kuong, spokesman for Cambodia's Foreign Affairs Ministry, said authorities had taken 20 into custody and have no knowledge of the two others.
He added that Phnom Penh had determined the Uighurs had entered the country illegally and would be returned to China.
"All 20 illegally entered Cambodia because they have no immigration papers, no visa," Koy Kuong said. "Therefore, they violated Cambodia's 1994 immigration law. They have to be deported because they are illegal immigrants."
Human rights groups said they fear the Uighurs would be mistreated if returned to China.
The Uighur American Association said some in the group had witnessed security forces killing and beating Uighur demonstrators and if returned to China, they could face persecution, including possible execution.