Cambodia has deported 20 Uighurs who fled July’s deadly Urumqi riots back to to China. Both the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. government has criticised the action, with the UN agency saying it breached international refugee law. The 20 Uighurs were seeking political asylum, but Beijing has been pushing hard for their return, saying, as to be expected, that they are wanted for crimes. The Uighurs were flown from a military airfield in Phnom Penh on Saturday (while UNHCR staff were at the civilian airport) ahead of a visit by Vice-President Xi Jingping due to start Sunday. Cambodia maintains the group has terrorist ties and entered the country illegally. It says that two more Uighurs who slipped away from the rest of the group will also be returned if found. In 2002, Nepal returned Shaheer Ali, a Uighur who fled China in 2000 and was recognized as a refugee by the UN. He was reportedly executed a year later.
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