Malaysia defied China in its efforts to prosecute its Uighur Muslim ethnic minority, and Beijing is furious.
The Muslim majority, Southeast Asian country on Thursday released from detention 11 Uyghurs who requested Beijing to be extradited to China, and sent them to Turkey instead, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing the unnamed Uyghurs & # 39; lawyer.
Fahmi Moin, the lawyer, told Reuters: "The accusations were withdrawn because the Attorney General's rooms agreed with the [appeal] For our part."
China subjects Uighurs to one of the most cruel and intrusive surveillance measures in the world, including being on a register of DNA samples and blood groups and followed by about 40,000 facial recognition cameras in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where 11 million Uyghurs live.
The China Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters Friday in a statement: "These people are all Chinese citizens, and we resolutely oppose the fact that they are being deported to a third country."
The decision of Malaysia made it the second Muslim ally of China to criticize Beijing's oppression of the Uyghur minority.
Last month, Pakistan warned that Beijing's regulation of Uighur is fueling extremists rather than fighting terrorism, which directly justifies China's justification of the Uyghur brutality, namely that it discourages people from religious extremism and terrorism.
Leaders of the Muslim world were deafeningly silent because more and more reports of the oppression by China of Uighurs rose last year, although hundreds of people in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan have protested.
Experts told Business Insider that the silence of the Muslim leaders is probably due to their reluctance to endanger economic relations or to expose human rights violations in their own country.
The journey of the 11 Uyghurs
The 11 Uighurs were detained in Malaysia earlier this year after they had ended up in a prison in Thailand, near the border with Malaysia last November.
During the prison the prisoners were digging holes in cell walls and the use of blankets as ladders to climb over the barbed wire of the prison, the BBC reported.
They were among more than 200 Uighurs who were held in Thailand in 2014. Many Uighurs flee to Southeast Asia and try to flee to Turkey, a country with a Muslim majority.
Although the people in the group identified themselves as Turkish citizens and asked to be sent to Turkey, over 100 were forced to return to China in 2015, reported Reuters.
Beijing in February put great pressure on Kuala Lumpur to deport the men from Malaysia back to China, Reuters reported.
Tensions between Malaysia and China
The tensions between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing emerged after the election of Mahathir Mohamad as Malaysian Prime Minister.
Mahathir has canceled over $ 22 billion in China-funded infrastructure projects in his country over the past month to avoid growing national debt and because we do not need them & # 39 ;.
The Raillink and gas pipeline projects were part of the China & Belt's Road and Initiative (BRI), a huge project to connect China with more than 70 countries around the world via infrastructure projects.
Beijign has already invested between $ 1 trillion and $ 8 trillion in those projects, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The BRI is one of the pets projects of President Xi.
The project cancellations also came when Mahathir suggested that the BRI was "a new version of colonialism," according to the Financial Times.
The Malaysian Prime Minister said, however, that the Chinese leadership "understood the situation and accepted its decision" and added, according to the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times: "I do not think China wants us to go bankrupt.
China's interest in extradition from the Uighurs
China has tried to hold the Uighurs firmly, even though they were no longer in China.
Beijing seems to create a global register of the Ukur diaspora, where several members report threats made directly to them or their relatives in China if they have not provided personal information, such as number plates and bank details.
Dozens of Uighurs have been deported to China from abroad in the past. Egypt, one of the economic partners of China, deported at least 12 Uighurs back to China last summer, with at least 22 more without reason, according to The New York Times.
Malaysia has also sent detained Uyghurs to China in the past, Reuters said.
Last month, Business Insider reported that Abudulijiji Supi, a Chinese Uighur who lives in the United Arab Emirates, was arrested for no apparent reason and threatened to be deported to China. His family thinks he will be locked up in a detention center or a re-education camp if he is sent there.
Activists have accused China of holding 1 million Uighurs in detention centers or re-education centers, where prisoners are chained to chairs, beaten up and forced to sing patriotic songs about Chinese President Xi Jinping to get food, according to witnesses and former prisoners.
Earlier this week, the authorities in Xinjiang revised local laws to encourage "re-education institutions" to help "those affected by extremism" despite previous denials from Beijing that such camps did not exist.