Cambodia deports Uygurs back to China

Source: Global Times [02:19 December 21 2009]

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By Lu Te in Phnom Penh and Sun Wei in Beijing

Cambodia deported 20 Chinese Uygurs, who were accused of committing crimes during riots in Xinjiang, back to China on Saturday.

"We were implementing the immigration laws of the country. They came to Cambodia illegally. We had to apply our immigration law," Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.

More than 200 people died during the riots in July. Chinese police said they have evidence that the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the bloody riots.

The 20 Uygurs caught in Cambodia had been smuggled into the country and they applied for asylum at the UN refugee agency office in Phnom Penh.

The UN refugee agency condemned the deportation, saying it was driven by intense pressure from China, the BBC said.

But an official at the Cambodian Ministry of Interior claimed to the Global Times that it was "some Western media and NGOs" who were "ignoring our sovereignty and ordering us to do this and that."

He said those media and NGOs had been criticizing Cambodia ever since they started investigating the Uygurs' initiatives for entry.

The US, the UN and several rights groups urged Cambodia not to deport the group.

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