No sign of Uyghurs in Afghanistan: Taliban assures China
Uyghurs, who fear extradition to China post-Taliban takeover of the country, are not present in Afghanistan and will not be allowed to return, a Taliban spokesperson has reassured China, according to a media report.
"A shadowy Uyghurs Islamic group that China has used as justification for increasingly harsh rule over the Muslim ethnic minority in its far-western Xinjiang region is not present in Afghanistan and won't be allowed to return," Radio Free Asia reported citing a Taliban spokesperson.
As the Taliban control over Afghanistan, Uyghurs are worried that they could be deported to China, which in recent times have escalated religious crackdown in Xinjiang, CNN reported.
China often brands Uyghur activists in exile as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and cites the threat of terrorism to discredit the minority group's campaign to raise awareness of widespread rights abuses in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), reported Radio Free Asia.
The fall of the Afghan government last month to the Taliban following the pullout of US forces has raised both concerns in Beijing about instability and fears among Uyghurs.
According to the publication, China will add to harsh measures in the XUAR, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of internment camps since early 2017.
Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, said that ETIM members are no longer in Afghanistan because "the Taliban has categorically told them that there is no place for anyone to use Afghanistan against other counties, including its neighbouring countries," Radio Free Asia reported citing Chinese state-run media.
Meanwhile, China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and subjecting them to abuse including forced labour.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.
The US banned imports of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang in January, and Canada and the United Kingdom followed suit.
Many international brands, including H&M, Nike and Ralph Lauren, have also gone on record to declare their products are not made from Xinjiang cotton.