NCCM calls on federal government to seek return of Canadian held in China

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – September 22, 2016) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise the issue of a Canadian citizen unjustly held in China since 2007 with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

According to human rights observers, dual national Huseyin Celil, was arrested in Uzbekistan and extradited to China to be tried and convicted in a faulty process that targeted him for advocating for the rights of the Uyghur minority in China. He was sentenced to a life sentence; however the Chinese government announced earlier this year that he would be serving 19 to 20 years instead.

« We have seen the Canadian government successfully advocate for the return of Canadian Kevin Garatt, who was falsely accused of being a spy, » says Ihsaan Gardee, NCCM’s Executive Director. « It’s time now for the Canadian government to exert increasing pressure for Mr. Celil’s immediate release so that he can rejoin his wife and four children in Canada where they have been without a husband and father for over ten years. »

The Prime Minister will be meeting with China’s Premier in Ottawa today.

« We understand there will be several key issues discussed this week, including extradition, » adds Gardee. « This government must be clear that its own citizen who is unfairly imprisoned must be released. This government also has a duty to ensure that any cooperation with foreign states complies with international obligations and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. »

In late January, former imprisoned journalist Mohamed Fahmy and Amnesty International released a Protection Charter, calling on Ottawa to do more to guarantee the rights of Canadians held abroad. Mr. Celil’s wife Kamila Telendibaeva is a signatory to the charter.

Other Canadians who remain unjustly held overseas include Bashir Makhtal in Ethiopia and Professor Homa Hoodfar in Iran.

« All Canadians expect the government to go to bat in upholding and protecting human rights, » concludes Gardee. « Mr. Celil’s decade-long ordeal must come to an end. »

Background commentary:
The tale of two wrongfully imprisoned Canadians in China
Extradition treaty with China would be an affront to human rights