[ Witness to Organ Harvesting Seeks Asylum in Switzerland ]
A former member of the Chinese security forces, with highly sensitive information on the state’s practice of harvesting organs from prisoners, is currently stuck in immigration limbo in Switzerland and faces deportation to China, where he may face execution.
While Swiss authorities seek to apply the European Union’s recondite and stiff laws on asylum seekers, advocates say the witness has valuable information and should be granted asylum and an audience with the United Nations.
From 1993-1998, Nijat Abudureyimu, himself a Uyghur, was stationed in the prison of Liuwandao in the Northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang. His job was to lead prisoners from their cells to their execution.
But often they weren’t normal executions. Police would shoot the prisoner in the head in such a way as not to kill them, so that organs harvested from the body would be in the best condition.
Mr. Abudureyimu’s story of his time in Chinese labor camps has not yet been released in full. Over the last week, however, he has been granting interviews to European media in an effort to secure his stay in Switzerland, and allow him to testify to the U.N. on what he witnessed in China.
“After a while, I told my boss that I wanted to return to the police but he refused because I had seen too much. I stayed five years until 1998,” he said in an interview with Le Matin. “I saw many scenes of torture … an electrical appliance on women's genitals, deeply thrust into the vagina, the electric shocks, the scream.”
Complicating the matter is the Swiss authorities’ unbending application of the EU’s Dublin Regulation, which says that the EU country of entry bears the legal burden for assessing the asylum seeker’s claim. In Mr. Abudureyimu’s case, that country is Italy. But with hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants, and the suspected presence of Chinese operatives waiting for him, he has refused to go back.
The Swiss government’s obligation to allow him to remain expired on July 27, and given his refusal to return voluntarily, they have reached a standoff.
Advocates say the rigid application of the Dublin Regulation on the case is odd since a large number of Chinese refugee applications are otherwise processed by the Swiss government.
Fleeing from China
Mr. Abudureyimu’s odyssey began in China. After quitting his job as an executioner’s assistant in Xinjiang, he retreated into a world of vodka and nightmares. In late 2006, while drunk, he corrected a doctor on the price of a kidney. “I said too much. Shortly after, a friend of the police told me I was finished, I had to leave the country immediately,” he told Swiss daily newspaper Le Matin.
He spent three months with his brother in Dubai in 2007. Persistent questioning from a Chinese police officer suggested his cover had been blown, so he decided to move to Norway. Passing through Rome for a night in September 2008, he received a visitor visa on the way to Oslo.
His application for refugee status was rejected in Norway and he was threatened by a Chinese man at a Norwegian camp for asylum seekers. Around the same time he received news that his father in Xinjiang had died under mysterious circumstances.
Deported from Norway back to Italy, he submitted another application for asylum. While it was being processed he spent some months in Italian camps for asylum seekers; in Sicily he was photographed by a Chinese man on his cell phone, and again feeling endangered decided to make another break for it.
The Federal Office for Migration in Switzerland is aware of Mr. Abudureyimu’s circumstances, but does not evince much concern for his welfare.
Alard du Bois-Reymond, director of the office, defended the official stance to Swiss media. “Experience shows that Italy doesn’t answer if Switzerland asks for taking back a refugee. If he does not get asylum in Switzerland, he may be sent back to China.”
This is troubling to researchers and human rights advocates, who are puzzled by the Swiss state’s unwillingness to extend themselves in Mr. Abuduremiyu’s case.
Ethan Gutmann, an author and researcher who has been following the story of organ harvesting in China for several years, regards Mr. Abuduremiyu as an important witness.
Mr. Gutmann and his research partner Jaya Gibson (who works for The Epoch Times) first got Mr. Abuduremiyu to go on record about what he had done and seen. Their efforts on his behalf led to a story in Le Temps that has set off a flurry of press attention in Switzerland.
“It is essential that when someone who worked on the inside of special Chinese police forces comes in out of the cold and gives an honest appraisal of what they are involved in that they are rewarded,” Mr. Gutmann said to The Epoch Times. “There are many, many more witnesses out there who want to speak, but they see what is happening to someone like Nijat, and they stay silent. The Swiss government should have Nijat testify before a government organization.”
Mr. Gutmann’s earlier “emotionally raw and extensive” interviews with Mr. Abuduremiyu will be released once an appropriate media partner is found.
“This is the tip of a very large iceberg. In my opinion Uyghurs were used as a testing ground for organ harvesting in the same way they were used as a testing ground for nuclear weapons in the 1960s. The flowering of the organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience did not occur in my opinion until the persecution of Falun Gong, in the years 2001 to the present. What this is suggesting is that in Xinjiang no controls were resident—the inhibitions were very low,” Mr. Gutmann said.
Testimony obtained from Uyghurs, including from Mr. Abuduremiyu, confirms earlier allegations from Falun Gong refugees of a massive prison camp in Xinjiang Province that holds hard-core criminals, and Uyghur and Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. “This could be the locus of major organ harvesting activity,” he said.
In Washington, the Uyghur Human Rights Project is also paying attention. “We kindly request the Swiss authorities to grant Nijat asylum as he will face severe persecution including execution if he is returned to China for any reason,” the group’s director, Alim Seytoff, wrote in an e-mail to The Epoch Times.
“We believe his statement that the Chinese authorities harvested organs from executed Uyghur prisoners is credible. … It is our hope that the international community, especially the U.N., could formally investigate China's organ harvesting. … We hope Geneva will play a proactive role” he wrote.
Yves Brutsch, spokesman for asylum seekers at the Protestant Social Centre in Geneva, echoed many of the same sentiments. “He has important things to inform the international community; this is a special case.”
In an interview with the German-language media "20 Minuten," Mr. Brutsch noted that the Dublin Regulation allows Switzerland to treat the request themselves. “It is a question of political will.”
With additional reporting by Stephen Gregory