Mar 02 2018

China, Turkey set Interpol on dissidents abroad – Newsweek

China and Turkey have been abusing Interpol red notices to target dissenters abroad, according to a report by Newsweek.

Red notices can be placed on individuals who “are wanted by national jurisdictions for prosecution or to serve a sentence based on an arrest warrant or court decision,” according to Interpol’s website. The international police organisation works with national jurisdictions locally “with a view to their arrest and extradition or similar lawful action.”

States including Turkey and China are taking advantage of this mechanism to target and harass political dissenters abroad, according to Newsweek’s report.

The red notice allows these states to smear political opponents in exile as “terrorists”, but it also carries serious practical implications, as individuals who have been served with a red notice can find their ability to travel internationally severely curtailed, being turned away at the border or even arrested when they do.

Turkish journalists Hamza Yalçın and Doğan Akhanlı were arrested in Spain last year due to red notices issued by the Turkish government. Freedom House project director Nate Schenkkan’s research has shown that the Turkish government has used similar methods to target individuals in as many as 46 countries.

China operates along the same lines to target dissidents, particularly activists of Muslim Uighur origin, who Newsweek’s piece reports are frequently labelled as terrorists and served with red notices.

The case of one Uighur activist, Dolkun Isa, may indicate willingness to reform on Interpol’s party. Isa’s red notice has been scrapped 20 years after he discovered it was issued, said the Newsweek piece.

This may indicate that long-awaited measures are being taken to prevent states from using the red notices for political purposes, said the report.