September 5, I wrote the article “Sweden about to deport a Uyghur family to Xinjiang“, and a week later also an update on this case.
The story concerns a Uyghur family of four who were denied asylum to Sweden by both the Migration Board and the Migration Court, and told to contact the Chinese embassy to arrange their return to Xinjiang. The decision was made by staff that apparently did not have sufficient knowledge about the situation in the Xinjiang region.
Now, however, the Swedish Migration Board have decided to temporary stop carrying out deportations of Uyghurs and other minorities back to China. This also applies to cases were asylum have already been denied, such as the above mentioned family, who will not be forced to return to Xinjiang and the almost certain repression awaiting them there.
I just spoke on the phone with Per Hedqvist, senior analyst at the section for information analysis at the Migration Board, who has been involved with the decision.
Hedqvist works with updating the LIFOS database on the current political situation in different countries, that the Migration Board is using as basis for its asylum decisions (described more in detail in my earlier post).
Hedqvist told me that the situation in Xinjiang has just been updated after Fredrik Beijer, Head of Legal Affairs at the Migration board, summoned a crisis group a couple of weeks ago, in order to get a better understanding of the development in the region.
After the meeting with the crisis group – of which Hedqvist was a part – Beijer issued a “judicial comment” on the LIFOS. The comment and a report that was published simultaneously is available in Swedish only.
Let me translate the most important part of Beijer’s judicial comment below:
On the above mentioned grounds, Head of Legal Affairs [Fredrik Beijer] makes the assessment that no deportation of Uyghurs, or other minority groups from Xinjiang, to China is to be carried out for the time being, including cases who already acquired legal force.
As Hedqvist underscores, this includes not only Uyghurs but also other minority groups, and not only deportations to Xinjiang but also other parts of China.
So what do this mean for the Uyghur family who earlier this month was risking immediate deportation to Xinjiang? In short, it means that the family will not be expelled to China, and that their new application for asylum in Sweden is more likely to be accepted than was the case before.
This development is described by Hedqvist as “a quick decision”. It is however impossible to confirm wether it was made thanks to the attention that this case got in social media, with several medias, organisations and concerned individuals contacting the Migration Board as well as the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In any case, the family have avoided a grim fate, and likewise the Swedish authorities have avoided international embarrassment. A “win-win situation”, as the Chinese Communist Party often like to say!