Chinese Uighur refugee fears deportation from Turkey

This Aug. 7, 2017 photo shows a resettlement community where Uighur muslim immigrants from China lives in Kayseri in central Turkey. (AP)
Updated 12 August 2019
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Chinese Uighur refugee fears deportation from Turkey

  • The community is caught in a difficult position since Turkey has been hugely generous at a time when many other Muslim-majority nations have abandoned them for fear of angering China

ISTANBUL: A Chinese Muslim refugee has told AFP he is terrified he may be sent back to China after being detained in a deportation center near Istanbul for more than two months.
The Uighur community in northwest China has faced an intense crackdown in recent years, with an estimated one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities held in internment camps that Beijing calls “vocational education centers.”
Turkey has been the only Muslim-majority nation to criticize China’s policies and offered refuge to tens of thousands of Uighur refugees.
But lately, fears have spread through the community after rumors that some Uighurs were being deported, most notably a woman and her two children who were given Tajik passports and taken to Tajikistan from where they were sent back to China.
The latest case involves a 29-year-old man named Aihemaiti Xianmixiding, who has Turkish residency and work permits, and runs a factory in Istanbul making car accessories.
He was arrested on May 30 and is under investigation for being “one of the main financers” of a little-known “terrorist organization” called the Uighur National Movement, according to court documents seen by AFP.
“I had never heard of (this organization) before,” Xianmixiding told AFP by phone from the Pehlivankoy deportation center in the northwestern province of Kirklareli on Saturday.
He said relatives in China had recently been forced to sign papers requesting his repatriation, which he feared was part of an effort to pressure the Turkish government into agreeing to his deportation.
“I’m worried because I know China has the capacity to achieve this. I have heard of Uighurs who were deported from Turkey to Tajikistan and, from there, to China. I am afraid the same thing will happen to me,” he added.
His wife said on Sunday there was no explanation for why he was being held in a deportation center rather than a regular jail.
Xianmixiding said dozens of other Uighurs were being held in the same center, but most were released after a meeting between Uighur community leaders and Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on August 2. Xianmixiding said there were still eight Uighurs in the center.
His wife, 25-year-old Ekide, burst into tears as she described the situation.
“He is a very hard-working man. We stayed clear of anything that could get us in trouble. What mattered most for him was to make sure his children would have a good future,” she told AFP.
“I am afraid they will send him to Tajikistan and then China.”

Xianmixiding said he had received threats from China via messaging service WeChat since fleeing the country in 2016.
“The police told me ‘We will bring you back, just you wait’,” he said.
With Turkey starting a religious holiday, the government was unavailable for comment.
In a press conference last month, immigration officials denied they would ever send Uighurs back to China, though they also said refugees convicted of crimes could lose their residency status.
Asked about the case of Zinnetgul Tursun — the woman sent back to Tajikistan with her two children — the officials said she had entered Turkey illegally and been claimed as a Tajik citizen by the Tajikistan embassy.
“There were claims (Zinnetgul Tursun) was not Tajik, but (the Tajik embassy) insisted she is their citizen. We will find out what happened. We never deport Uighurs from Turkey to China,” Ramazan Secilmis, a senior official at Turkey’s immigration agency, told reporters.
Uighur activists have told AFP they fear Tajikistan is acting under the orders of Beijing to facilitate deportations through its territory.
The community is caught in a difficult position since Turkey has been hugely generous at a time when many other Muslim-majority nations have abandoned them for fear of angering China.
“Turkey was never planning to send us back. So China is playing these mind games to keep everyone worried so we don’t organize bigger things,” said one activist.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019
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Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.