TORONTO — The wife of a Canadian Uighur lawyer who has been in a Chinese prison for 15 years says the federal government should use the 2022 Beijing Olympics as a bargaining chip to bring her husband home.
Kamila Telendibayeva told Granthshala’s Question Hour on Sunday that Canada should boycott the Olympics or consider not sending athletes to Beijing over China’s human rights abuses.
“First of all, before the Olympics start, before we are going to send athletes to Beijing, I want to see Selil home, I want to see my husband in Canada,” Telendibayeva said.
Telendibeva’s husband, Hussein Selil, has been detained in China since 2006. He was arrested in Uzbekistan and deported to China after long advocating for the human rights of his Muslim ethnic Uighur minority.
Telendibeva said the family’s requests to the Chinese authorities to see Selil in person have been unsuccessful. His visit to the prison was halted nearly five years ago, when Beijing first cracked down on Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, citing the need to fight terrorism, encircling them in prison camps.
Telendibaeva said that she has not heard from her husband by phone or mail since then.
He said, ‘I don’t know anything about him.
She said she hasn’t heard from Canadian officials about the status of Selil’s case in several years.
“Since Trudeau has been in power, I haven’t met any Canadian politicians, Canadian officials, not Trudeau, not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or anybody.
In a statement to Granthshala’s Question Hour, Global Affairs Canada said that Canadian authorities have been “actively engaged” in Selil’s case since her initial detention and added that they are in “regular contact and assistance” to her family. continue to provide”.
“While the Chinese government has refused to recognize Mr. Selil’s Canadian citizenship, the Canadian authorities continue to raise their case with Chinese officials at a senior level and press for consular access. Mr. Selil’s ongoing detention. We have a deep connection with China and we continue to engage with China to verify their health and well-being,” the part in the statement read.
While Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were recently released, Telendibeva said more needs to be done for Canadians who are still in detention in China.
Kovrig and Spavor returned to Canada last weekend after spending more than 1,000 days in Chinese custody on espionage charges, widely attributed to the Canadian December 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran. was seen as a counter-reaction to. . China has consistently denied that the cases were connected in any way.
However, hours after the release of the two Canadians, a B.C. judge dismissed the extradition case against Meng when US Justice Department officials reached an agreement to resolve criminal charges against him, giving Meng a Allowed to enter into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and leave Canada. Conditions.
Canada’s ambassador to the US previously told Granthshala’s Question Hour that the Chinese government had begun talks to release Kovrig and Spavor, noting that the US did not recognize the freedoms of the two Canadians as a condition of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Meng. Made.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry has said that both Canadians have been released on bail for health reasons.
Both Canadians were being tried in China, and Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Kovrig was yet to be sentenced before his release. In a statement emailed to Granthshala.ca, Global Affairs Canada said Kovrig and Spavor were innocent.
While Telendibaeva said she was relieved that the two Michaels were back in Canada, she said she wished her husband would also be returning home.
“We are so happy that the two Michaels have been reunited with their families … it’s really amazing,” Teledibaeva said.
Telendibayeva held back tears, saying that raising her four children alone has been “very difficult”. She said that Selil never met her youngest son, who is now a teenager.
“I was the father, I was the mother, and then I’ve been a member of the family. I was the only one to raise four boys,” said Telendibayeva. “Boys, they were very young. Now, they became adults, they became men.”
Asked why the government had not been successful in securing the release of Cecil, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the two Michaels were detained for political reasons, which “agitated public opinion in Canada and around the world.” ” did.
“We were able to demonstrate that we are a country with the rule of law, and we have never hesitated to apply the fundamental rules of our justice system,” Trudeau said.
“We will continue to advocate for those who are wrongfully imprisoned around the world, as we have for many years, as we will continue.”
With files from the Canadian Press