Monday, February 05, 2007

Comment to a Friend about the Celil case

I quite agree that the Chinese authorities will likely finger Mr. Celil for things that he did not do in a future proceeding. As we know Mehmet believes that the whole thing is about trying to intimidate Uyghurs abroad, so it is not actually about anything specifically Mr. Celil did in China, Canada or anywhere else. Certainly the Canadian Government has already requested his immediate return to Burlington. But from a human rights prespective there is by international treaty supposed to be due process of law extended to Canadians (and of course Chinese citizens as well) who are arrested while abroad. My feeling is that simply demanding Mr. Celil's release does not serve our cause as well as demanding that the Chinese Government get into compliance with its international obligations. Of course if the trial turns out to be inconsistent with international norms for openness and proper use of evidence as is most likely then the Canadian Government should demand he either gets a proper hearing or immediate release as we don't think there is sufficient basis for his imprisonment. It would be ideal if the Chinese authorities acknowledge he is innocent of all charges and releases him, but that happy result would be well-nigh unprecedented. But they are less likely to respond to our simply telling the Chinese Government what it should do unconditionally, in my view.

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