Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Belgium

Newsline: Uyghur Family Under House Arrest After Abduction From Belgium’s Embassy in Beijing

The wife and children of a Uyghur man living in Belgium are under house arrest in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), months after they were abducted from the Belgian Embassy in Beijing by Chinese authorities, according to the man. Huriyet Abdulla, 43, had travelled to Beijing from the XUAR with her four children in late May seeking visas from the Belgian Embassy that would allow them to join her 51-year-old husband Ablimit Tursun in Brussels, where he was granted refugee status in late 2017 after his brother was sent to an internment camp, Tursun told RFA’s Uyghur Service. When staffers at the embassy informed her that the documents would take longer than expected to issue, she replied that she was too afraid to return to her hotel room in the city after police had visited them twice already to determine the purpose of their visit, and refused to leave the building, Tursun said. (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/arrest-10102019142104.html) Shortly after midnight, Chinese authorities entered the grounds of the embassy, forcibly removed Abdulla and her children to their hotel, where they spent the following night, and on May 31 confiscated their phones and drove them nearly 30 hours home to the XUAR capital Urumqi.

Advertisements

Newsline: Man found dead in Chinese embassy in Brussels

The body of a man (38) was found in the car park of the Chinese embassy in Brussels, Belgian media has reported. “It is a suicide,” said a spokesperson of the Brussels’ prosecutor’s office to Bruzz. “The lab has been on-site, as has the medical examiner. There is camera footage. The investigation has been closed. The case has been dropped,” they added. How the man ended up on the site of the Chinese embassy is not clear. (https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/70180/man-found-dead-in-chinese-embassy-in-brussels/) A spokesperson from the Mission of China to the EU told The Brussels Times that “We express grief and regret at this unfortunate incident. After the incident happened, the Belgian police promptly arrived at the scene, investigated the incident and concluded that the man illegally entered the premises of a diplomatic mission and committed suicide. We have asked the Belgian side to step up security protection for Chinese diplomatic missions in Belgium in accordance with the relevant international treaties and prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.”

Newsline: Belgium puts embassy in the US up for sale

The building housing the Belgian Embassy in the United States has been put on the market, after the outgoing head of foreign affairs said the property was too large and was not being fully used. The decision to move diplomatic operations from the property was taken in 2016 by Didier Reynders, who is set to step down from his current position as Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the time, Reynders explained his decision by the fact that the current building, located near other international embassies like that of Finland and China, was too big and not being fully used, , according to HLN. The transaction would see Belgium’s diplomatic delegation in the U.S. move to two apartment blocks in as-of-yet undisclosed locations in Washington D.C.. According to the outlet, the asking price is for the building is currently of 25 million dollars, or around 22.3 million euros. (https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/63639/belgium-puts-embassy-in-the-us-up-for-sale/) The decision reportedly ruffled some feathers at the foreign ministry, with some raising concerns that selling off the building would harm Belgium’s image abroad, and others saying that maintenance costs for the apartments were actually higher.

Newsline: Belgium arrests suspect over US embassy attack plot

Belgian authorities arrested a man who is suspected of planning an attack on the United States Embassy in Brussels, prosecutors announced on June 24. The Belgian man, who has only been identified by his initials “M.G.”, was taken into custody following a string of threats. He has been charged with an attempted terror attack and with “preparing a terrorist offense.” The man denies any involvement in the alleged plot. According to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, the man had been under police surveillance and was recently seen acting suspiciously near the embassy. Further details about the case were not immediately released.

Newsline: Muslim family dragged out of Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police

A Muslim family was dragged out of the Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police after Belgian officials allowed them to enter the building, it has emerged. A Belgian diplomat was expected to travel to China’s restive Xinjiang region on June 18 to try and confirm the whereabouts of the woman and her four children, who are members of the Uighur minority. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/18/muslim-family-dragged-belgian-embassy-beijing-chinese-police/) The woman’s husband, Adbulhamid Tursan, is a political refugee in Belgium. His wife, Horiyat Abula, and her four children travelled to Beijing at the end of May to complete missing paperwork for their family reunification visas. Mr Tursan said he had not heard from his family since May 31, a few days after they were extracted from the embassy after refusing to leave when they were told it would take at least three months for their visas to be approved. The embassy offered to escort the family back to their hotel, but they “refused to leave the embassy in a kind of sit-in”, a Belgian ministry spokesman said. In the end, Chinese police “escorted them away,”the spokesman said. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s foreign minister, said an embassy is not intended to “lodge people” applying for visas but added, “My only concern here is that we can reunite the family.”

Newsline: Foreign ministry calls on Belgians in Sri Lanka to make themselves known

The Belgian ministry for foreign affairs has sent out a message to the Belgian citizens currently in Sri Lanka to get in touch to determine whether any was involved in the wave of explosions which took place on Sunday, cause more than 150 deaths and many more injuries. Posting on Twitter, the ministry wrote (in English): “Several blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. If you are a Belgian citizen residing or travelling in Sri Lanka please inform the Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi that you are safe on 0091 98 10117931 or newdelhi@diplobel.fed.be.” (http://brusselstimes.com/world/15106/foreign-ministry-calls-on-belgians-in-sri-lanka-to-make-themselves-known) The six attacks targetted three hotels and three churches. The situation at the time of writing is still unclear, but local sources put the number of deaths at 156, including at least 35 foreigners, with at least 400 people injured. Those numbers could of course change as time goes by and more information becomes clear. Three hotels were hit in the capital, Colombo, including the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, situated close to the prime minister’s residence. The other explosions took place at the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. Foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders posted two messages on his own Twitter account. “The foreign ministry is contacting Belgians living or travelling in Sri Lanka to see if they are safe or require assistance. We are also in touch the local authorities to obtain information on any foreign casualties.” In another message he said he was “very saddened and shocked”.

Newsline: Turkish foreign ministry summons Belgium ambassador in Ankara

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Belgium’s ambassador in Ankara on Monday over a Belgian judicial decision it said had blocked prosecution of people with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a foreign ministry official said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-belgium/turkish-foreign-ministry-summons-belgium-ambassador-in-ankara-idUSKBN1QS1JL) The ministry last week described the decision by the Belgian Chamber of Indictment unacceptable and said Belgium was expected “to act in line with (its) counter-terrorism responsibilities”.