HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong on Saturday criticized human rights group Amnesty International’s allegation that a Uyghur student had disappeared after being interrogated at the airport, saying government files showed he had failed to enter the city or had been refused entry .
In a statement, the government condemned Amnesty’s “baseless and unfounded statements” in the strongest possible terms as an attempt to denigrate Amnesty.
“Indeed, the records of the Hong Kong SAR government indicate that the person did not enter or that Hong Kong refused entry,” the statement said, referring to the official name of the Hong Kong SAR. “The organization deliberately attacked the Hong Kong SAR government and slandered the human rights situation in Hong Kong without checking the facts.”
The government demanded an apology from the group.
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“Although Abuduwaili remains missing, we remain concerned for his safety. His friend, who has contacted Amnesty International, has still not been able to contact him after sending a message saying he was being questioned by Chinese police at the time he was expected to arrive in Hong Kong,” Amnesty told The Associated Press Response to a request for comment.
China denies the allegations, which are based on interviews with survivors, photos and satellite imagery of the Xinjiang region, where many Uyghurs live.
Uyghur activists abroad have criticized Hong Kong’s denial of its role in the student’s whereabouts.
“If he had flown from South Korea to Hong Kong, there would be a record of him boarding the plane,” said Nyrola Elima, an independent Uyghur researcher based in Sweden.
“Regardless of the Hong Kong government’s efforts to deny or cover up the atrocities committed by the Beijing and Xinjiang governments against Uyghurs, the fact remains that a Uyghur Ph. A student has disappeared at Hong Kong Airport,” she said.
Tahir Imin, a Washington, DC-based Uyghur academic and founder of the Uyghur Times, said the Hong Kong authorities’ statement was a “blatant lie”.
“If it is true that he did not enter Hong Kong, he would have disclosed his whereabouts to his closest friends in the last two weeks,” he said.
“The statement by the Hong Kong authorities is a blatant lie and an attempt to avoid international criticism and to cover up their possible complicity in the Chinese Communist Party’s global hunt for Uyghurs,” he said.
Associated Press writer Kanis Leung contributed to this report.
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