Ex-Detainee Says China Holds Uyghurs In Secret Dubai Jails
A young Chinese woman says she was held for eight days at a Chinese-run secret detention facility in Dubai along with at least two Uyghurs, in what may be the first evidence that China is operating a so-called “black site” beyond its borders, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Photo Insert: Human rights issues regarding the Uyghurs have been at the core of souring relations between China and the world.
The woman, 26-year-old Wu Huan, was on the run to avoid extradition back to China because her fiancé was considered a Chinese dissident. Wu told AP she was abducted from a hotel in Dubai and detained by Chinese officials at a villa converted into a jail, where she saw or heard two other prisoners, both Uyghurs.
Black sites are clandestine jails where prisoners generally are not charged with a crime and have no legal recourse, with no bail or court order. Many in China are used to stop petitioners with grievances against local governments, and they often take the form of rooms in hotels or guesthouses.
Yu-Jie Chen, an assistant professor at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, said she had not heard of a Chinese secret jail in Dubai, and such a facility in another country would be unusual.
Wu Huan was questioned and threatened in Chinese and forced to sign legal documents incriminating her fiancé for harassing her, she said. She was finally released on June 8 and is now seeking asylum in the Netherlands. While “black sites” are common in China, Wu’s account is the only testimony known to experts that Beijing has set one up in another country.
Such a site would reflect how China is increasingly using its international clout to detain or bring back citizens it wants from overseas, whether they are dissidents, corruption suspects, or ethnic minorities like the Uyghurs.
AP was unable to confirm or disprove Wu’s account independently, and she could not pinpoint the exact location of the black site. However, reporters have seen and heard corroborating evidence including stamps on her passport, a phone recording of a Chinese official asking her questions, and text messages that she sent from jail to a pastor helping the couple. China’s Foreign Ministry denied her story.
“What I can tell you is that the situation the person talked about is not true,” ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Monday. The Chinese Consulate in Dubai did not respond to several requests for comment.
Dubai also did not respond to multiple phone calls and requests for comment to the Dubai Police, the Dubai Media Office and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.