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Uyghur Refugee In Kazakhstan Faces Extradition To China

Chinese riot police march pass local Uyghur residents near a mosque just before Friday prayers in Urumqi in July 2009, soon after the height of the Han-Uyghur violence.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Uyghur refugee who fled to Kazakhstan after ethnically charged clashes in China's northwest Xinjiang province is facing extradition to China, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Arshiddin Israil, 39, who fled China in 2009 in the wake of the deadly violence between Uyghurs and Han Chinese, is currently in a detention center in Almaty.

Almaty-based lawyer Denis Dzhivaga told RFE/RL that Kazakh authorities arrested Israil at Beijing's request last summer, even though the UN office in Almaty granted him refugee status in 2009 and Swedish officials agreed last year to grant him asylum.

Dzhivaga said that Israil would probably be tortured and jailed, or even sentenced to death, if he were extradited to China.

Qaharman Qozhamberdiev and Alizhan Tilivaldi, both prominent members of the Uyghur diaspora in Kazakhstan, declined to comment on Israil's plight.

Israil's lawyer, Yury Sukhanov, also refused to discuss the case, saying that his client does not want it to be made public.

Zhanna Dosova of the UN Office in Almaty told RFE/RL that for reasons of confidentiality the UN office does not comment on individual cases.

Sweden's charge d'affaires in Kazakhstan, Manne Wangborg, confirmed to RFE/RL that Sweden granted Israil asylum last year. He said he therefore attends all hearings in the case.

China's Xinhua news agency reported in 2009 that 197 people were killed and 1,721 were injured during clashes between Uyghurs and Han Chinese and the subsequent intervention by Chinese security forces.

Uyghur rights organizations abroad claim that the number of Uyghurs killed was much higher.