Turkey facing delayed China vaccine amid controversial extradition deal

Turkey facing delayed China vaccine amid controversial extradition deal
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A woman walks with her dog along a deserted street during a curfew on Sunday in Ankara. Turkey has increased precautions to contain COVID-19. (AP)
Turkey facing delayed China vaccine amid controversial extradition deal
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In this Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 file photo, under the watchful eye of Prof. Dr. Iftahar Koksal, left, nurse Arzu Yildirim, center, administers a dose of the CoronaVac vaccine, made by Sinovac, currently on phase III clinical trials at Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul. (AP)
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Updated 29 December 2020

Turkey facing delayed China vaccine amid controversial extradition deal

Turkey facing delayed China vaccine amid controversial extradition deal
  • AKP risks coalition breakdown over anti-Uighur agreement with Beijing

JEDDAH: China’s parliament ratified on Sunday an extradition agreement with Turkey to boost its alleged counterterrorism efforts abroad.

However, critics warn that the agreement will be used in tandem with economic and diplomatic pressure on foreign governments to deport Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority.

The deal was signed in 2017 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to Beijing, but it has yet to be ratified by Turkey’s parliament.

Media have speculated that the extradition deal might be used by Beijing as a bargaining chip to boost its investments in Turkey and increase sales of its coronavirus vaccine in the country.

China has already delayed delivery of the first shipment of the Sinovac vaccine to Turkey for several days after a “customs-related problem” arose.

Beijing is also expected to adjust its trade and business ties with Turkey, which is in dire need of foreign capital, depending on the willingness of Ankara to ratify the extradition deal in the near future.

China is still among Turkey’s largest import partners.

The first train carrying goods from Turkey to China reached its destination on Saturday, having covered a distance of 8,693 km

However, despite the battered Turkish economy facing a depletion of foreign exchange reserves, an expert said Turkey “would not ratify the agreement anytime soon.”

Turkey’s domestic situation means the ruling party risks losing its nationalistic coalition partner over accusations that the agreement will harm Uighur minorities, the expert said.

“The government is likely to receive a huge blow from the opposition parties and its coalition partner if it proceeds with ratifying the bill in parliament amid the fragile political circumstances,” the expert told Arab News.

If the agreement is passed by the Turkish parliament, Uighur refugees in Turkey will face extradition to China if they are accused of committing terror or political crimes.

However, if Uighurs are granted Turkish citizenship, extradition requests could be denied by Turkish authorities.

Turkey’s government already faced heavy criticism earlier this year following reports that some exiled Uighurs were deported to China through third countries, mostly Tajikistan.

Critics have said that the long-term residency applications of some Uighurs were also rejected by Turkey, but Ankara has denied the claims.

A motion brought forward by Turkey’s main opposition party to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate China’s treatment of Uighurs was vetoed by the ruling party earlier this year.

Last month, Yusufujrang Aimaitijiang, an Uighur man who claimed to have been forced by Chinese authorities to provide information about fellow Uighurs in Turkey, was shot twice in Istanbul.

There are also mounting allegations about Uighur refugees being interrogated by Turkish police over terror-related claims.

About 50,000 Uighur refugees are believed to live in Turkey. Many have fled the crackdown in northwest China, and see Turkey as a safe haven.

Several districts on the European side of Istanbul have already become popular among Uighurs, and they are welcomed with solidarity by Turkish locals.

China has faced widespread criticism regarding its policies targeting Uighurs and its use of forced labor in mass internment camps.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently held a phone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

During the call on Dec. 14, Wang said that “both sides should stand against terrorism,” while Cavusoglu said Turkey “will not allow China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to be undermined,” according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry.

Turkey was absent from a group of 22 countries that urged the UN Human Rights Council in July to investigate systemic human rights abuse in China.


Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack
Updated 25 January 2021

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack
  • More than 340 execution orders “for terrorism or criminal acts” were ready to be carried out
  • The orders came after twin suicide attacks claimed by Daesh killed 32 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Rights defenders fear Iraq may give the green light to a spree of executions of convicted militants in a show of strength, days after a deadly suicide attack in Baghdad.
On Sunday, an official from Iraq’s presidency told AFP more than 340 execution orders “for terrorism or criminal acts” were ready to be carried out.
“We are continuing to sign off on more,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The orders were disclosed to AFP after twin suicide attacks claimed by the Daesh group on Thursday killed at least 32 people in a crowded open-air Baghdad market.
The blasts were a jolting reminder of the persistent threat posed by the jihadists, despite the government declaring victory over them in late 2017.
The official, along with judicial sources contacted by AFP, could not provide additional details on when the executions may take place or if they included foreigners convicted of belonging to IS.
A 2005 law carries the death penalty for anyone convicted of “terrorism,” which can include membership of an extremist group even if they are not convicted of any specific acts.
Rights groups have warned that executions were being used for political reasons.
“Leaders resort to announcements of mass executions simply to signal to the public that they’re taking... (these issues) seriously,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The death penalty is used as a political tool more than anything else,” she told AFP on Sunday.
In mid-2018, outgoing Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced 13 executions under the Counter-Terror Law, and for the first time authorities published pictures of the hangings.
That came after Daesh killed eight civilians.

Since the official declaration of victory over Daesh, Iraq’s courts have sentenced hundreds to death for crimes perpetrated during the jihadists’ 2014 seizure of around a third of the country and their brutal three-year hold over cities including Mosul.
But only a small proportion of the sentences have been carried out, as they must be approved by the president.
Barham Saleh, who has held the post since 2018, is known to be personally against capital punishment, and has resisted signing execution orders in the past.
Some Iraqis took to social media to demand tougher action from Saleh after Thursday’s attack, accusing him of “not carrying out the sentences” and risking a prison break.
Despite Saleh’s moderating influence, Iraq in 2019 carried out the fourth highest number of executions among nations worldwide, after China and Iran, according to Amnesty International.
Iraq carried out 100 executions that year — one out of every seven worldwide.
Judicial sources told AFP at least 30 executions took place in 2020.
They include 21 men convicted of “terrorism” and executed at the notorious Nasiriyah prison in November.
The move sparked condemnations from the United Nations, which described the news as “deeply troubling” and called on Iraq to halt any further planned executions.

Rights groups accuse Iraq’s justice system of corruption, carrying out rushed trials on circumstantial evidence and failing to allow the accused a proper defense.
They also condemn cramped conditions in detention centers, saying those arrested for petty crimes are often held with hardened jihadists, facilitating radicalization.
Iraq’s government has declined to provide figures on detention centers or prisoners, including how many are facing terrorism-related charges, although some studies estimate 20,000 are being held for purported Daesh links.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said late last year that given such gaps in Iraq’s legal system, implementing capital punishment “may amount to an arbitrary deprivation of life by the State.”
Ali Bayati, a leading member of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, told AFP the country had “limited options.”
“Capital punishment is part of the Iraqi legal system — and we do not have real rehabilitation centers,” he said.
“We lack clear guarantees and real transparency in the interrogation and ruling sessions, and in allowing human rights organizations to play their role.”