Huseyin Celil is seen in this undated family handout photo.
Updated Fri. Mar. 28 2008 7:23 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The family of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen imprisoned in China, says they have no idea where he's being held.
In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sent jointly with Amnesty International, Celil's family is urging the government to do more to ensure his safety.
"Prime minister, we call on you to renew and fortify Canada's efforts to ensure Mr. Celil's human rights are protected," the letter states.
"We appreciated the concern and action demonstrated by the government in the past, including by you personally, but are concerned Canada's attention to Mr. Celil's fate appears to have waned."
CTV's Steve Chao, reporting Friday from Beijing, said the big concern right now surrounds Celil's whereabouts.
"As of last fall, his sister was still being allowed to visit him in a prison but then earlier this month, when she went to the same prison, government authorities told her that he had been moved but they refused to let her know where exactly he had been moved to," said Chao.
Celil, who belongs to the Uighur Muslim minority of far western China, holds Canadian citizenship. The Chinese-born man came to Canada via Uzbekistan and Turkey after escaping from a Chinese jail in 2000.
In late March 2006, Celil visited Uzbekistan and was arrested and returned to China.
Chinese authorities claim that militants among the Uighurs -- Turkic-speaking Muslims -- are backing a violent Islamic separatist movement in an attempt to set up an independent state of "East Turkistan.''
China's line has long been that because Celil was born in China they will not recognize his Canadian citizenship.
"This is against international agreements however the Chinese government says this is their matter... and they do not want Canada involved," said Chao.
In April 2007, a Chinese court found Celil guilty for the two crimes of "separating China and ... organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups, organizations."
He was given a life sentence for the crimes. In July 2007, a Chinese court rejected Celil's appeal.
Celil's family says he is being held in jail because he is a human rights activist.
Canadian diplomats have never been granted access to Celil, said Chao.
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Another example of China's total disregard for human rights. This person has Canadian citizenship but China does not respect this. He was acting on behalf of a repressed minority group in China… Shame on China! Boycott the Bejing Olympics! Release the Canadian Huseyin Celil!
To bad we rely so heavily on China for goods.
Why was a Chinese citizen who escaped from jail given Canadian citizenship in the first place? I am not in favor of spending any taxpayer money to try to help people like this.
We continue to support this communist regime because of our greed for the cheap manufactured goods. Our manufacturing sectors are collapsing and they are gobbling up world resources, polluting the world as they go. Human rights have no place in their philosophy and their population continues to be impoverished, when will the west wake up to what is happening?
Ellery, I would venture to say that Mr. Celil was imprisoned in China for speaking up for the human rights of his repressed minority group. Canda has a habit of supporting people who are being persecuted by repressive governments. At least Canada tries to practice basic human rights. Shame on China! Boycott the Bejing Olympices. Free Mr Celil!
Presumably, he was a political prisoner. Be that as it may, he was granted citizenship so Canada should stand by him.
Alan in Vancouver
How many times do we need to know about China's communist totalitarian government's human rights abuses, before we finally have the fortitude to take reprisals.
The Olympic games boycott and trade sanctions are a good start.
Mr. Harper, where are you?
Seriously? So is the family of every person who is jailed outside of Canada going to go to the media and the government about it? These ventures are just huge wastes of taxpayer money and need to stop!
This is one more story to show that our taxpayers are supporting what kind of business the government is doing. But this is not a news. We all knew he was a Chinese before he became a Canadian.
I am sick and tired of having to "rescue" people that freely go to these crazy countries expecting to be treated like in Canada. Stay at home and don't travel, especially when you are a wanted man. It's if we have to spend millions on saving these folks and I say too bad. Stay at home if your want freedom. ANd another thing, stop trying to change the world. Countries are the way they are and let them be. I am sick of trying to save the world from poverty and oppression. It's time we focused on Canada and spend less time with trying to change other countries.
Why are we trying to "save" convenient Canadians? We shouldn't be jumping in where these criminals are every time they call for help. I agree with those who say to stop trying to change the world. Do we want other nations telling us how to behave or run our country? How about we respect the laws of other nations as we want them to respect ours?
Wow. Has the day actually come where more people are concerned about their money as 'taxpayers' than about the life and rights of other human beings? I really hope not, but I fear it might be the case. What sad times we are in. I grew up in a Canada that was much more understanding and compassionate that what it seems to be today. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you must, but I'd like to think at least I have a heart.
I will never work trying to apply Canada's Law in China. So try Chinese Law in China, it might help.
Although I agree he showed poor judgement in going back, I don't think we should just leave him there to rot in a chinese prison.
My understanding of the timeline is.
1. A Chinese citizen is convicted on terrorism charges.
2. He breaks out of jail and flees to Canada.
3. He is granted Canadian citizenship.
4. China does not recognize his Canadian Citizenship and insists he remains a Chinese citizen.
5. China insists he is an escaped prisoner and must complete his sentence.
6. He travels to a China friendly country and gets arrested.
7. He gets deported back to China to finish his sentence.
Seems open and shut that Canada is interfering with a domestic Chinese law enforcement issue. We as a country must not grant Canadian citizenship as some sort of global get out of jail free card to convicted criminals.
It is shame some people believe we shouldn't help others in time of need. It is the right of every Canadian to be looked after by his country just as it is the obligation of every Canadian to serve the best interest of his country even if abroad. You won't appreciate this concept until you've been yourself kidnapped or persecuted when on another country's soil.
I am with Bettina on this one. After escaping the region, Celil travelled back to that region, was arrested and turned over to the Chinese. It amazes me that people don't understand that the due process in other countries is different then Canada and that your 'Rights' (for the most part) don't exist outside of Canada.
The Chinese government can run their country how every they see fit and if we don't like it, we should buy or support anything they do make or do.
Also, the other issue might be that if by international law he is considered a Canadian then the world needs a recognized court that has authority to handle such issues as this. Without a court to uphold the law, the law is meaningless.
Nothwithstanding the current situation and in view on China's grip on the world economy and their total disregard for human rights and clean earth -we do have the will to boycott the Olympics AND stop buying Made in China. I know it's difficult but I have been doing it for well over a year. And I am very vocal with retailers who sell Chinese made goods.
Fog of Life
Seems that the majority of these, "Canadian jailed abroad", cases relate to naturalized citizens. Maybe during citizenship ceremonies we should have people understand that the Canadian passport is not bullet proof and provides NO immunity in foreign countries. People seem to know that the Canadian media will take up their cause if something happens so they consciously run the risk. Its time this mentality changes.
Let's hope China can socially and politically enter the 21st Century (ie rule of law, respect for the individual etc) before she self destructs. Business and wealth creation require political stability and if history is any guide, the Chinese economic miracle of the last 2 decades is unlikely to continue in a country where people simply disappear.
Ok, here we have a guy, who escaped a Chinese prison, came to Canada, attained Canadian Citizenship and even though he know's he's a wanted man in that part of the world goes back, gets arrested and finds himself yet again detained in a Chinese prison. People, regardless of his Canadian Citizenship, he is also a Chinese citizen and in China they do not recognize duel citizenship. We all know that China has total disregard for human rights, so why test the Chinese government on human rights when we all know what the outcome will be. Should the Canadian Government get involved? Well, at least should be talking to the Chinese government about him, but there's really not a hole lot that can be done. Another lesson all Canadians should learn about travelling abroad to certain countries such as China.
Capitalism and communism have joined hands in a perfect partnership. Some collateral damage is to be expected. Corporations [eg. olympics inc.] and commies have no regard for human rights. Please include our neo-government under "corporations".
I have to agree with Matt, Sean and Dean on this one. Why are we trying to "save" a person charged with a crime in their own country just because they recieved a Canadian Citizenship, (after they escaped from prison?) Where did our system breakdown by letting convicted escaped prisoners into our country- legally! If we were as compassionate for orphans and undereducated children as we are convicted criminals we may just get somewhere eventually
This is getting very old. Our politicians have more important matters to concentrate on than these people who continue to travel into countries where everyone knows questionable human rights exist. It is a hard lesson, but damnit, take your medicine!
It's time some Canadians stop asking what their country will do for them and instead ask what they can do for their country. Going back to any area where Canadian law has no jurisdiction is simply futile at best. Boycotting the Olympics is punishing the athletes who have done nothing wrong. Until the Chinese people can change their communist leadership, fighting for human rights needs to be done at a safe distance, and through diplomatic means.
The reason he returned to Uzbekistan was to try to get his remaining three children out of China. I pay a huge amount in taxes every year and I am quite happy to have my tax dollars spent helping a man who is willing to risk his life for his children.
Does anyone out there have even the remotest clue what it takes to govern 1.3 billion people. That's 1300 million compared to our 30 million and the 300 million in the US. Think of the problems of our elections and those in the US and then do the math and also recognise that China has a very diverse population. There is no way we can even imagine the problems of a population that size and think our method of democracy is the only solution. We also do not understand the dangers of allowing dissention within a population that large. I think maybe the people of Canada need to stop judging other governments based on their own standards and recognize that there are other cultures out there with problems we do not have a clue about.
We have to worry about our TAXPAYER money because we work hard and pay taxes. We are not paying taxes for the mistakes of other people.
Human right is fine but we should not firght for human rights on expense of other people's hard money(taxes) that is again voilation of Human right.
Government should spend money for we Canadians which are working and contributing to Canadian Economy, not on the people involved in criminal activities of any kind.
Canada has oil. China wants access to it. As a result, we have considerable diplomatic leverage. We should exploit that to its fullest potential to extract whatever human rights concessions we can, at every opportunity.
People, he is a human being, deserving of our compassion. We do not know his life story but we know he is a human being. The Chinese government has a long and horrific history of crushing dissent. Now they seem to think that this ability extends outside of their border. They have become like the American governement; "do as I say or watch out." No government is above the laws protecting human rights. Individuals have the absolute right to live in peace and security above all other considerations, all others. If not, the human race will cease to exist, suppressed by faceless governments and corporations. Shane on China! Boycott the Bejing Olympics! Free Huseyin Celil.
I think there is an important issue here that people seem to be missing.
Doesn't his family have the right to know where he is? If he is even still alive?
Should be in jail, shouldnt be in jail, that is a question for the government and law to answer.
I feel sorry for the family members. If I had a loved one in jail (be it for any reason), I would like to know where that loved one was, and if he/she was okay.