China running a secret jail in Dubai to detain dissident suspects?

Representational Image (Photo courtesy: AlterNet)

(, Aug16’21) – As China’s economic power and influence grows globally, so also does its tentacles of repression which has seen even hardline Muslim countries actively refraining from criticizing its genocidal repression of the Uyghur and other Muslims in Xinjiang. And now in what may be the first evidence that it is operating a so-called “black site” beyond its borders, a young Chinese woman has told the AP that she was held for eight days at a Chinese-run secret detention facility in Dubai along with at least two Uyghurs.

AP said Aug 16 that 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. She has spoken of having been 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.

She was questioned and threatened in Chinese and forced to sign legal documents incriminating her fiancé for harassing her. She was finally released on Jun 8 and was now seeking asylum in the Netherlands, the report said.

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“Black sites” are common in China, including those set up in capital Beijing by provincial governments to detain petitioners seeking to complain against local official wrongdoings and others set up by police to deal with dissidents by extrajudicial means without any announcement of their arrest or detention.

Wu’s account, if true, 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, the report said.

The report said China and Dubai did not respond to multiple phone calls and requests for comment on Wu’s account.

Wu Huan speaks during an interview in a safe house in the Ukraine on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Wu claims that she was held for eight days at a Chinese-run “black site” in Dubai along with at least two Uyghurs, in what may be the first evidence that China is operating a secret detention facility beyond its borders. She was on the run from the threat of being sent back to her home country because of her support of her fiance, Wang Jingyu, a perceived Chinese dissident. (Photo courtesy: AP)

The report said Dubai had a history as a place where Uyghurs were interrogated and deported back to China, with activists saying Dubai itself was linked to secret interrogations.

Radha Stirling, a legal advocate who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, has said she had worked with about a dozen people who had reported being held in villas in the UAE, including citizens of Canada, India and Jordan but not China.

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Wu has said that on May 27, she was questioned by Chinese officials at her hotel and then taken by Dubai police to a police station for three days. On the third day, Li Xuhang who was working for the Chinese consulate in Dubai visited her and asked her whether she had taken money from foreign groups to act against China.

She was handcuffed and put in a black Toyota, to be taken about half an hour’s drive away inside a white villa with three stories, where rooms had been converted into individual cells.

Wu has said she was taken to her own cell, with a heavy metal door, a bed, a chair and a white fluorescent light that was on all day and night. She was questioned and threatened several times in Chinese.

About other detainees at the site, Wu has said she saw another prisoner, a Uyghur woman, while waiting to use the bathroom once. A second time, she heard a Uyghur woman shouting in Chinese, “I don’t want to go back to China, I want to go back to Turkey.” From her distinctive appearance and accent Wu has identified the women as Uyghurs.

Wu was made to call her fiancé to find out his location and pastor Bob Fu, the head of ChinaAid, a Christian non-profit, who was helping the couple, and was finally forced to sign the documents before being released.

She flew to Ukraine to reunite with her fiancé Wang. But following threats from Chinese police that Wang could face extradition from Ukraine, the couple fled again to the Netherlands, the report said.


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