letter from Huseyin Celil

letters on behalf of Huseyin Celil, from the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China

open LETTER FROM canadian professionals, from the recognize celil campaign


Letter From Huseyin

Dated March 10, 2008 from prison in Urumqi in northwestern China.

Best Greetings of God over you

From Huseyin Celil

My Lovely, gracious mother, how are you doing?

I caused you tremendous suffer and pain. You spent whole of your life with my suffer. As a your child I only beg your pardon and pray for me.

I missed you very very much. If they allow, if your financial situation permits, I would be feel like myself in heaven with your one more visit along with my two children. Last time I was blessed seeing my sister when she visited me.

I missed my mother and two son from the bottom of my heart. I really want to see them one more time. I wrote twice to you but received no reply so far. Maybe you did not get my letters or the letter you send did not reach me.

I can figure out the reason. How about my all relatives? Are they fine?

How about my son Abdusemi, Abdugheni and Esma?

How about my lovely wife Kamila and my children in Canada? (naming his all children one by one) . were you able to continue to contact with my wife Kamila and my children in Canada? How are they doing? What is my wife Kamila saying on my bad luck? Please ask Kamila, let her continue to do something for me in Canada. I am now loosing my all hopes of returning back to my country and see my wife and children. I can not sleep by thinking my old handicapped son. Because I am in Prison now I am not aware of any thing about outside world. My days are passing with hoping of a miracle that can save me from this place and gives me chance of hugging my wife and children in Canada. I am worrying for my children all days scratching my head as a hopeless and helpless person. When I met with my sister last time she mentioned me in brief that Kamila would be coming to see me?

Any thing new about this? Please if you know any thing let me know with any possible ways.

Dear Mother, you are getting old. Please take care of yourself well, even though this is an empty wish, Please rest well. Do not cry for me too much. I could not stand this unjust world. I am supposed to serve you as your son, I am supposed to help you under your knees all day and night, but now you are helping my son and taking care of them for me. You have raised my two children as you did all my brothers and sisters. This is painful. This is indigestible.

Dear my sisters and brothers, Please take care of my mother well. Every thing can be found, not father and mother. We have only one mother who are precious for all of us. Think of me for a second, now I can do every thing to be able to see the face of my mother, I am thinking all day and night to serve her for a second, but I can not. Therefore you should know the value of our mother when she is alive and take this golden opportunity to serve her.

Please send my heartfelt greetings to my wife Kamila if you have a chance to talk with her on phone.

Dear Kamila, if possible please contact with the Embassy personal in Beijing and let them know my situation. So far nearly two years I have not seen any one from Canada. I am citizen of Canada and I belong to this great country.

If I am in jail know it is just because I got a bad luck. Otherwise I have not done any thing wrong in my whole life. I really want to talk with some one from our Embassy in Beijing, I would like to tell them that I am absolutely innocent person. I want them to know my story. Why they are not coming to see me? I want them to ask for me why I am in jail for so long? What went wrong? What is the reason? I want to know all of these. I could not find any one here to listen me. But our Embassy personal can ask these questions on my behalf.

I am always dreaming of Mehmet Salih and my wife Kamila. I can not pass any single minute without thinking them. So many things presses me all the time. In one hand my children in Kashgar grown up without seeing my fatherhood. Another hand my children in Canada living without knowing what has happened to their father. Also my mother is suffering and crying for me all day and night. Worst thing is I can not do any thing for my mother, children, wife and relatives except pray in my heart.

I pray my mother all the time. She has raised my children without me since years. I can not pay it back in my whole life. When I was about to be a person who can do some thing for my children and family, I ended up in jail for nothing. Please pray for me. That is the only thing that I can ask from you.

I can feel from the bottom of my heart that you came to Urumqi many many times and spent days and night for the hope to see me, visit me. I am grateful, I am thankful for the hardship you have experienced in cold and hot, snow and rain. I know you are doing it. I know the thin heart of my mother and my children and all of my relatives.

I hope my paper is enough to pour ( I think it meant to express) my heart.

I would like to put each and every name of my relatives on this paper and send my greetings from my heart.

He names all of his relatives one by one.

Dear mother, Please forgive me if I have done any thing wrong to you in my life. Please forgive me if I even have spoken loudly in front of you.

It is only God who can help me to meet with all of you.


Huseyin Celil

March 10, 2008

No: 5th subdivision of 6th district, Number 1 prison in Urumqi

Huseyin Celil

Letter and its translation taken from The Globe and Mail.

Coalition urges Prime Minister to put human rights on his agenda in China, Dec 2009

On the eve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first official visit to China , the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China strongly urges him to publicly push for improvement in China’s poor human rights record.

“The Prime Minister must not be persuaded that speaking out on human rights concerns is counterproductive or inappropriate to the occasion,” said Alex Neve , of Amnesty International, one of ten organizations in the Coalition. “The government of Canada must show moral courage in addressing human rights issues with Chinese authorities.”

The Coalition urges Prime Minister Harper to show that Canada views human rights as a central plank of its relationship with China . There have been two recent examples of the Canadian government taking a clear stand on cases of individual Chinese dissidents – both the activist Lu Decheng and journalist Jiang Weiping have been able to settle in Canada with their families because Canadian officials took action.

Some critics argue that pressing the Chinese government on human rights concerns is bad for business, insisting that Canada’s trade with China will suffer. But “trade statistics do not support that position,” said Cheuk Kwan, of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China . “Quiet diplomacy with China has not benefited Canada economically, nor does frankness about Canadians’ concerns over China’s human rights record hurt Canada economically.”

In 1997, when the Canadian government abandoned public criticism of human rights violations in China and opted instead for a policy of quiet diplomacy, Canada had a 1.41% share of the market for total imports into China . During the years of quiet diplomacy, that dropped – to 1.06% in 2003 and .97% in 2006. More recently, the government suspended the quiet human rights dialogue process with China and, coincidentally or not, Canada’s share of Chinese imports modestly increased to 1.12% in 2008.

“Dialogue on sensitive issues like human rights is not only appropriate,” said Neve, “It is a measure of the respect between nations.”

Twenty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, China’s human rights record continues to deteriorate by almost every measure. Despite much-touted promises, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games did not bring about positive changes to the rule of law and respect for the rights of citizens. Instead they led to numerous human rights violations.

“Thousands of Chinese, Uyghur, and Tibetan activists and human rights lawyers continue to face arbitrary detention, harassment and imprisonment following unfair trials,” said Tenzin Wangkhang, Students for a Free Tibet Canada . “Authorities continue to execute more people than the rest of the world combined.”

The coalition has provided the government with a list of eleven cases to raise with Chinese authorities, and also asks that the case of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen of Uyghur origin, serving a life prison term in China after an unfair trial, be discussed.

The letter to the Prime Minister was signed by the following members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China: Amnesty International Canada (English branch), Amnistie international Canada francophone, Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Falun Dafa Association of Canada , Federation for a Democratic China , PEN Canada , Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement in China , Students for a Free Tibet Canada , Toronto Association for Democracy in China , the Uyghur Canadian Association, and the Movement for Democracy in China (Calgary).

Letter from the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China to Prime Minister Harper on eve of visit to China, 2012

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you, as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,1 in advance of your upcoming visit to China. We view your visit as a valuable opportunity to advance human rights as a key priority in Canada’s relationship with China and in particular to highlight a number of critical issues, including the plight of prisoners of conscience.   We recognize that you face competing pressures regarding issues to prioritize, including trade considerations at a time of economic uncertainty. We trust that you will agree with us that human rights cannot be sold short to these interests. The rights of the many millions of people who face injustices at the hands of Chinese authorities on a daily basis matter too much to be given secondary attention. And ultimately, the relationship between Canada and China will be stronger if it is grounded in mutual respect for key international human rights principles.

A critical moment

Prime Minister, you travel to China at a critical time for increased and more forceful attention to human rights in the China/Canada relationship for three key reasons.

First, the past year has been a very difficult time for human rights protection in China. Coming in the wake of the global human rights scrutiny that accompanied the Beijing Olympics in 2008 or the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo in 2010, the international community’s interest in China’s human rights situation appears to have waned during 2011. Unfortunately, that diminished concern comes alongside deterioration in China’s human rights record.

Notably, throughout the year there has been a relentless crackdown against the country’s beleaguered human rights community. Human rights lawyers and other activists have been arrested, disappeared in custody, subjected to torture and ill-treatment, held for long periods without charge or trial, and convicted after blatantly unfair trials. The crackdown reflects Chinese government fears that reformers in China intended to launch a peaceful protest movement similar to the so-called “Arab Spring”. But while the world spoke out forcefully about the repression in the Middle East and North Africa, China’s moves against individuals pressing for democratic and human rights change went largely unchallenged by other states.

Against this backdrop, changes to China’s Criminal Procedure Law have been proposed which would allow detention for up to six months in undisclosed locations without charge or trial, essentially legalizing “disappearances.”

Second, your visit comes at a time when the balance of influence Canada has with China has shifted in important ways. Past Canadian governments have argued that Canada holds little sway with China and that forcefulness with respect to human rights concerns will be ignored and will only harm Canada’s commercial links with the country. However, that has changed considerably in recent years with the Chinese government’s notable interest in gaining a foothold in the Canadian natural resource sector, including oil, gas and mining companies and projects. That merits, in our view, a more confident and bold willingness to raise human rights concerns during your meetings with Chinese officials.

Third, we have noted the priority your government has given to the need for strengthened protection of the right to freedom of religion, reflected in the decision to establish an Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs. Many of the very serious human rights problems prevailing in China involve violations of this right, be it the persecution of Tibetans and Uyghurs, the campaign against practitioners of Falun Gong, and the ban on “underground” Christian churches. The government’s decision to establish an Office of Religious Freedom, with a global mandate, offers a timely opportunity to raise these concerns.

In particular, the unprecedented wave of self-immolations as a form of desperate protest by sixteen Tibetans in recent months, and the demonstrations by Tibetans and escalating violence by Chinese security forces in response in Sichuan Province over the past week, are all cause for grave alarm.

In fact, the human rights situation in China continues to be worrying on very many fronts and has worsened recently in some respects. Attached to this letter we have provided a summary of some of the key concerns of members of our Coalition. We have also included a list of ten cases of individuals detained in China at this time who we consider to be unjustly imprisoned. A complete list of such cases would, unfortunately, be far too lengthy to compile. This list is a selection of emblematic cases which we feel represents that range of cases.


Prime Minister, we began this letter urging that you make human rights issues a priority focus of your upcoming visit to China. In that regard we specifically call on you to:

  • Raise concerns about the worsening situation in Tibet, in line with previous statements made by the US and German governments.
  • Press for reforms to be instituted to ensure that the right to religious freedom and all other universally-recognized human rights of Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Christians and other faith groups is fully respected.
  • Raise concerns about the prisoner cases outlined in the list compiled by our Coalition. The document includes the case of Husseyin Celil, which we expect you will pursue at all possible opportunities. We urge you to press forcefully for Canadian consular access to Mr. Celil finally to be granted, and demand that due to the failure to provide him with a fair trial he should be promptly and unconditionally released.

  • Make it clear that Canada is gravely concerned about the crackdown against human rights lawyers and activists.
  • Urge that the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Law be withdrawn and that any further reforms be consistent with international human rights requirements.

We will follow the news of your visit with close interest and look forward to hearing of the efforts you take to press these and other human rights concerns while you are in China.

Alex Neve
Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada,
on behalf of the Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China

Summary of specific concerns


Extensive human rights violations continue against the Uyghur population. It is 2½ years since the massive crackdown following violence and protests in 2009. Hundreds were arrested at the time. The clampdown against Uyghur dissent has deepened, with numerous Uyghur journalists or managers of Uyghur websites being sentenced to lengthy prison terms. We know that you personally have intervened with Chinese officials previously about the case of Canadian citizen Husseyin Celil, a Uyghur originally from Xinjiang. He has been imprisoned in China for over 5 years now, and is serving a life prison term after a blatantly unfair trial.

Prisoners of Conscience in the People’s Republic of China, August 2016

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China* submits this list of jailed prisoners of conscience to the Government of Canada. The information has been compiled from various sources and not exclusively by the individual organizations noted beside each prisoner name. The cases are presented as a representative compilation and there is no significance to the order of the list. We are advocating immediate and unconditional release for each of the prisoners listed. We request a report back from the Government of Canada.

*The coalition included Amnesty International Canada-English, Amnistie internationale Canadafrancophone, Canada Tibet Committee, Canada-Hong Kong Link, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, Federation for Democratic China, Students for a Free Tibet Canada, Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Uyghur Canadian Society and the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement.


Name of Individual Huseyin CELIL
Present Location Xinjiang Province, Urumchi (in various prison locations)
Date of Birth; Gender; Ethnicity

March 1,1969; Male; Uyghur

Occupation Religious leader
Key Dates Detained in Uzbekistan in March 2006 and extradited to China. Tried in August 2006 and sentenced in April 2007
Sentence Life imprisonment
Charges Splittism; terrorism
Additional Details / Background

As a religious leader and student activist, Huseyin Celil spoke out publicly in the early 1990’s on behalf of the right of his people (the Uyghur people of Western China) to freely live according to their religion and culture.

Arrested in 1994 by Chinese authorities, he spent considerable time in jail, and was beaten and tortured.

He came to Canada in 2001 as a refugee. In Canada, he applied for and received Landed Immigrant status.

Became a Canadian citizen in 2005, Huseyin Celil settled in Burlington, Ontario with his wife Kamila and their young children whose ages now range from 5 to 11 years.

He was tried in August 2006. Amnesty International has called this an “unfair trial” because Huseyin Celil was not allowed to speak in his own defense, his lawyer was prevented from presenting more than 30 pages of first-hand evidence prepared on his behalf, and Canadian consular officials were barred from attending.

The Canadian government has raised this case repeatedly with Chinese officials, most notably in November 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

More recently, Huseyin Celil’s mother and sister were able to visit him in prison ( November 2010, January 2011, June 2011). They reported an important change in his situation, namely that for the first time since his arrest, the solitary confinement which he had been subjected to since his arrest is being very gradually relaxed. He is occasionally being allowed out of his cell into other areas of the prison where he has contact with other prisoners. This is a small but very important step. The conditions of his health has not changed: he is not getting enough food, he has very little opportunity for exercise, and his medical complaints have been not been adequately attended to.

Known Health Situation deteriorating – he is held mostly in solitary confinement, with inadequate nutrition and medical attention; persistent kidney problems
Proposed Questions to ask Canadian government should insist, for humanitarian reasons, on
1) An end to solitary confinement?
2) Adequate food/nutrition?
3) Proper medical attention?
4) Unlimited visiting rights for his family? Canadian government request (again for humanitarian reasons) that he be released to house arrest in Canada? He has 4 young sons (one severely handicapped), and his wife is all alone trying to raise and provide for them.
Case Represents? Arbitrary Detention of a Canadian citizen
Case well-known? Very well known in Canada, esp. in Greater Toronto Area. Family lives in Burlington. Prime Minister has received upwards of 10,000 post cards asking government to take action on this case. Canadian, UK, and US governments have been active on this case

Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China letter to PM Justin Trudeau, November 2017

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2 November 29, 2017

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing this Open Letter to you, as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,1 in advance of your upcoming trip to China. We urge you to prioritize human rights concerns in all meetings and exchanges while you are in China, and to take up three recommendations in particular.

  • Respect for human rights must lie at the heart of all aspects of the Canada/China relationship.
  • Any possible trade deal with China must be subject to comprehensive, independent human rights impact assessments before entering into force and at regular intervals thereafter.
  • China must free prisoners of conscience held in the country and, at a time when the Canada/China trade relationship may be expanding and deepening, must free sixteen Canadian citizens and other individuals with close Canadian connections who are unjustly imprisoned in the country.

We wrote to you in August 2016, in advance of your first trip to China as Prime Minister. We noted the concern, shared by all of our organizations, about a concerted, deepening clampdown on human rights lawyers and activists and intensified measures to curtail freedoms of expression, association and assembly in China. We stressed that those were worrying indications of a deteriorating climate for human rights protection in the country. Sadly, fifteen months later, that assessment holds and, if anything, has only deepened.


At the time of your August 2016 trip we highlighted that any expanded trade relationship with China must not contribute to human rights abuses and that attention to human rights impacts must be an integral part of any negotiation process. In May 2017, our coalition made the enclosed submission as part of public consultations during the exploratory phase of Canada/China trade discussions. We highlighted the importance of subjecting any possible trade deal with China to regular human rights impact assessments. We have been deeply disappointed that this recommendation has not been accepted by your government. We consider it to be of paramount importance and, therefore, we repeat it at this time.

  • Before any free trade agreement is finalized and at regular intervals thereafter, it should be subject to a thoroughgoing human rights impact assessment in accordance with principles and approaches developed by UN human rights experts. Detrimental impacts identified through the assessment must be addressed before any deal enters into force or continues to be in force.


Prime Minister, among the many matters of very serious human rights concern for our Coalition over our twenty years of advocacy, and for each of our organizations individually, has been the fact that untold thousands of individuals continue to be unjustly detained in China, as prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, in circumstances in which such fundamental rights as fair trial guarantees and protection against torture are routinely and cavalierly violated.

We regularly compile a list of emblematic prisoner cases of concern to our Coalition, which we urge you and other senior Canadian officials to raise in exchanges with Chinese counterparts. We have enclosed our most recent prisoner list with this letter and reiterate our hope that you will make it clear that Canada expects these individuals to be released.

Furthermore, Prime Minister, at a time when Canada is considering deepening our relationship with China through a possible free trade agreement, it absolutely must be a priority concern for you that a significant number of Canadian citizens and other individuals with close Canadian connections face arbitrary, unlawful imprisonment and other serious human rights violations in Chinese jails; and that some of those cases date back more than a decade. We look to you to advocate forcefully for these individuals to be freed.

We have attached an Annex to this letter, providing the names of sixteen imprisoned Canadian citizens and other individuals with close Canadian connections known to and of concern to our Coalition. We draw your attention in particular to the cases of Huseyin Celil, a Uyghur Imam imprisoned since 2006, and Qian Sun, a Falun Gong practitioner imprisoned since February 2017, both of whom are Canadian citizens; as well as Wang Bingzhang, a democracy activist imprisoned since 2002, who was one of the first Chinese nationals to study at a Canadian university and whose daughter and several other close relatives are Canadian citizens.


Prime Minister, our Coalition is not made up of trade experts and we take no position on the viability or prospect of any possible free trade deal with China. We are, however, human rights experts and that is what unites us in our call that any such deal must put human rights first, including through a rigorous human rights impact assessment process. It is also our expectation that – as Canadian Prime Minister – you will highlight how difficult it will be for Canada to pursue trade negotiations while a broad range of human rights problems persist in China.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns and recommendations. We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you or your officials for further discussions before you travel to China.

Alex Neve
Secretary General Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
On behalf of the Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China


Honourable Justin Trudeau 
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Honourable Erin O’Toole
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Mr. Jagmeet Singh
Leader of the New Democratic Party

Mr. Yves-François Blanchet
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Mrs. Annamie Paul
Leader of the Green Party

We support Canada’s condemnation of China’s conviction and sentencing of Michael Spavor, China’s decision to uphold the death penalty sentence against Robert Schellenberg, and the continued arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig. Canada has remained steadfast in bringing an end to the horrific ordeal of these Canadians. 

However, we are gravely concerned about Canada’s foreign policy and its choice to prioritize some Canadians over others. Canada has been actively building a coalition in support of the two Michaels but has left Huseyin Celil behind. We are very disturbed to see him being treated as a second-class citizen and deprived of his rights.

Let us be clear, Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen. He is also a proud Uyghur and a community leader who has advocated for religious and political rights for his community. After fleeing China because of persecution, Huseyin became a refugee, settled with his family in Canada in 2001 and gained Canadian citizenship.

In March 2006, Huseyin and his family traveled on their Canadian passports to Uzbekistan to visit family. This was the last time Huseyin’s wife, Kamila and their boys would see Huseyin. He was arrested by Uzbeki police on behalf of China and extradited to China where he has been detained for over 15 years.

Canada had 6 weeks to prevent Huseyin’s transfer to China but instead did nothing. His only crime is being Uyghur. Huseyin turned 52 years-old last March. To date, his whereabouts and well-being are unknown. 

China has violated many of Huseyin’s human rights including:

  • no access to a lawyer, his family, or Canadian officials during his trial,
  • allegations of torture and forced confessions,
  • denied recognition of his Canadian citizenship,
  • solitary confinement,
  • subjected to a re-education program,and 
  • denied his freedom of belief, thought, expression, and religion.

China is a signatory on the Vienna Convention On Consular Relations in 1979. It also signed the Consular Agreement Between The Government Of Canada and The Government Of The People’s Republic Of China in 1999. China is in breach of both agreements.

Huseyin is a Canadian citizen yet continues to be denied the right to consular services. The Canadian government cannot even tell his family if he is alive.

The Subcommittee of Foreign Affairs and International Development and Subcommittee on International Human Rights have echoed in their March 2021 report titled ‘Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China’ the demand of many people throughout the 15 years of Huseyin’s detention in China which recommends “Global Affairs Canada use all the tools at its disposal to secure the release of Huseyin Celil, including but not limited to the appointment of a special envoy specifically tasked with seeking his release and return.” Canada must act on this case. If Canada is not recognizing him in its own discourse how can we expect China to free Celil. 

We demand the Canadian government to RECOGNIZE CELIL. 

We call on all political parties to:

  • Recognize that Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen
  • Reaffirm the commitment of reuniting Huseyin Celil with his family as part of your foreign affairs promises in your election platform 
  • Call for China to provide Canada consular access to Huseyin Celil
  • Commit to appointing a special envoy to seek Huseyin Celil’s release and return.

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