Saturday, July 15, 2006

On Mr. Celil's Disappearance into the Chinese Prison System and Connection to the Lai Changxing Matter

If Mr. Celil is wanted for murder in Kyrgyzstan then he should have been deported to Kyrgyzstan, not to China where the Chinese political charge is not recognized by Interpol. But it seems he was in Turkey at the time of that murder. Looks like he is not a murderer.

This is not an issue of whether Celil is guilty of the crimes he is charged with. The issue is that he is a Canadian citizen but the Chinese Government will not comply with the international consular convention that obliges them to inform the Embassy of his arrest, the charge and the place of imprisonment within 48 hours and allow Embassy officials to visit him in jail and to attend his trial. If the Chinese cannot produce any valid reason for detaining Mr. Celil (and if they could presumably they would have made this known and evidently they have not), then he should be released forthwith. To my understanding the Celil case is the first time the Chinese Government has refused to allow consular access to a Canadian citizen of Chinese origin. I am aware of past cases where the person arrested by the Chinese police entered China on a Chinese passport (with the Canadian passport in their pocket for use in re-entering Canada on return), but the Chinese authorities have eventually agreed to consular access. Mr. Celil had no Chinese passport as he exited China on a forged Turkish passport after escaping from police custody. I don't see that the circumstances of his departure from China should have any bearing on the legitimacy of subsequent acquisition of Canadian citizenship. Even though his Canadian passport may have been illegally confiscated by the Uzbekistan authorities before they handed him over the Chinese authorities it would have been incumbent on the Chinese police to contact the Canadian Embassy in Beijing to inform them that they were holding someone who claimed to be a Canadian who has lost his identity papers so we could do the necessary investigation so as to verify whether or not this claim is valid or not. Anyway if the Celil case indicates that China has decided not to follow Article 9 of its Nationality Law for people of Chinese origin who change their citizenship on the basis of successful Convention refugee claims, then the Chinese Government should make an explicit statement of this. Then we could take appropriate measures to respond to this.

Of course there are many Canadians in Chinese prisons mostly for drug offences and financial fraud, smuggling, etc.

I cannot claim to be an expert on consular procedure. But in general I think that Canadian Embassy in Beijing has not fully exerted its influence to get the Chinese Government to communicate with us about this case. The Ambassador in Beijing should be much, much more active on this matter. He has only raised it as an aside at other activities (such as with Assistant Minister at a lunch and at a Canada Day Party). We don't know how forcefully he raised Canada's concern over our citizen, Mr. Celil. Also I suggest that Chinese Government agencies other than MFA should be contacted. In Uzbekistan the Ministry of Interior was contacted and Prosecutors Office was contacted but in Beijing it seems our people deal only with the Chinese MFA. A lot of time has passed since Mr. Celil was deported to China and the Chinese authorities perceive that Canada is not really vigorously pursuing the matter --- more like going through the motions mostly with low-level officials involved.

It could be that the fiasco over our advising the PRC Government that Lai Changxing would finally be returned to China (which China announced in their media) only to not return Lai at the last minute has really soured the Chinese MFA toward us. They would have lost face with their senior leadership because of the Canadian Embassy telling them prematurely that the Lai return was finally settled. Lai is a critical figure because of his relationship with senior leaders in Standing Committee of the Poliburo and their families (especially Jia Qinglin, wife of Li Peng and Jiang Zemin's former secretary). We also lack capacity to get info on Mr. Celil through informal means (intelligence gathering) due to relatively low expertise in language and cultural skills of our diplomats in the Political Section in Beijing.

I am thoroughly depressed and distressed by all this.

1 comment:

羽之助 said...

I wonder why Lai wasn't deported. Not enough trust for the Chinese judiciary to keep their promise to not hand him the death penalty, perhaps. Anyway, it's a bit of a surprise to hear about this Mr. Celil. I wonder what he did to get caught - but catching him in Uzbekistan of all places? On what charge (not that one is exactly needed, I know)? I guess DFAIT has its work cut out for it ...