Open letter to the Xinjiang’s party secretary

Reporters Without Borders
 

Mr. Zhang Chunxian
Party Secretary
Urumqi, Xinjiang
China

Paris, 19 May 2010

Subject: Internet situation in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region

Dear Mr. Zhang,

Reporters Without Borders notes the Xinjiang Autonomous Region’s reconnection to the Internet on 14 May, which has allowed a relative reopening to the outside world, and we urge you to pursue this trend by pressing for less online censorship at the central government’s next meeting to examine the situation in Xinjiang.

Cut off from the world for near 10 months following the July 2009 unrest, Xinjiang was the victim of a discriminatory measure as regards Internet access. It was the longest-ever case of government censorship of this kind. The return to “normal” is a positive sign. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the fact that Xinjiang’s Internet users are subject to filtering by the Great Electronic Wall of China, which prevents access to websites and content regarded as subversive by the authorities.

You recently said that you wanted to “maintain stability at all costs” and that you were ready to crack down on “separatist elements.” The solution to your region’s problems does not lie solely in the application of economic remedies. It also requires increased respect for freedom of expression, to which its inhabitants have a right, and a reduction or elimination of censorship about the Uyghur cause, which cannot be branded as just terrorism.

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To the urgent attention of Mr. Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana

Re: Former Guantanamo Uyghur Detainees in Tirana

Rome, 19 May 2010

Caro Sindaco, Caro Edi,

It was nice meeting you in your office with Marco Pannella, Ermelinda and Pandeli the other day; I hope that something good will come out of those preliminary discussions and I look forward to continuing them in Rome soon. Today I write to bring to your attention the situation of the four Uyghurs that Albania has generously decided to host after their release from Guantanamo Bay in 2006. On 11 May 2009, thanks to the good offices of the Italian Embassy in Albania, I had the opportunity to meet three of these individuals in Tirana: Mr. Abu Bekker Quassim, Mr Ahtar and Mr Ahmad to discuss their situation and to gain an understanding of their needs.

As you may be aware, the Nonviolent Radical Party, transnational and transparty has been active for the last 20 years accessing different fora to foster the cause of the Uyghurs both in China and abroad. Moreover, part of our struggle for the protection and promotion of human rights was recently characterised when we promoted ways to assist the United States in the closing of Guantanamo Bay. We deeply appreciate the leadership role played by Albania in this matter and hope that soon the prison will be permanently shut down.

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Internet reopened in East Turkestan, but Uyghur webmasters and bloggers remain behind bars

For immediate release
May 14, 2010, 07:00 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association
+1 (202) 535 0037

Following today’s announcement in the Chinese state media that “full Internet access” has been restored in East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), the Uyghur American Association (UAA) calls upon the international community to remember the many Uyghur website administrators, bloggers and journalists who have been detained since July 5, 2009, many of whom remain in detention. UAA urges the Chinese government to release these individuals in order to demonstrate that the Internet in East Turkestan has become truly free. In addition, UAA calls upon the Chinese government to lift current restrictions on Uyghurs seeking Internet access in Internet cafés throughout China.

Chinese officials shut off all Internet and cell phone access in East Turkestan immediately following unrest that shook the regional capitol of Urumchi on July 5, 2009. International telephone communication was continuously blocked or heavily restricted for more than half a year after July 5, cutting off almost all communication between Uyghurs in East Turkestan and their family and friends living abroad. Among the thousands of Uyghurs who were arbitrarily detained and “forcibly disappeared” in the days, weeks and months after July 5 were the owners and staff of many Uyghur websites accused by the government of having promoted “separatism”.

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USCIRF Eleventh Annual Report on Religious Freedom in the World Released

 USCIRF

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,29 Apr 2010

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today announced its 2010 recommendations to Congress, the White House, and the State Department that 13 nations–Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam–be named “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs.

“Over the past few months USCIRF has visited a number of human rights ‘hot spots’ where freedom of religion is obstructed and related human rights are trampled,” said Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair. “This year’s report offers new and important policy solutions to improve conditions where foreign policy, national security, and international standards for the protection of freedom of religion can and should intersect. The report’s conclusion is clear–the Administration must do more!”

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After Wang Lequan’s departure from East Turkestan, flawed policies remain

27 Apr 2010 | Press Releases 

 The Uyghur American Association’s and Uyghur Human Rights Project’s press releases  

Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496

 

On April 24, Chinese state media announced that 57-year-old Zhang Chunxian, formerly the Communist Party Secretary of Hunan Province, had been appointed to the post of Party Secretary for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), replacing 65-year-old Wang Lequan, who has been made deputy secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee. The Uyghur American Association (UAA) believes that while Wang’s removal from East Turkestan may be construed as a positive step toward creating genuine peace and stability in the region, without the corresponding removal of Wang’s heavy-handed policies, Uyghurs will not benefit from the new development programs planned for East Turkestan, and tensions in the region will continue to worsen.

 The change in leadership was announced amid decisions by the Politbureau to accelerate economic and social development in East Turkestan, and followed similar pronouncements made by Party leaders at the March 2010 meeting of the National People’s Congress. But plans for development were accompanied by plans to spend 2.89 billion yuan on maintaining law and order in East Turkestan, an 87.9% increase from 2009.

 Wang, a long time protégé of president Hu Jintao whose 15-year stint in the top XUAR post exceeded the usual ten-year tenure of provincial party secretaries, ruled the region with an iron fist, and presided over a period of extreme repression for Uyghurs. Wang oversaw a violent crackdown on peaceful Uyghur protestors on July 5, 2009 in the regional capital of Urumchi, and a prolonged crackdown on the region that saw an unprecedented deployment of security forces, mass arrests and “enforced disappearances” of Uyghur men, politicized trials and executions of July 5 defendants, and stepped-up ideological campaigns aimed at stamping out the “three evil forces”.

 Incoming Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian, who holds degrees in engineering and management, has been popular among Chinese journalists for his willingness to interact with them. According to state media, Zhang was known as the “Internet Secretary” in Hunan, because he valued public opinion online. A more liberal attitude toward the flow of communications could prove crucial to the re-opening of full Internet access in East Turkestan, which has remained partially closed off after being completely shut down in the wake of the July 2009 unrest. UAA urges Zhang to remain consistent in his liberal communications policies after assuming his new leadership role, and to move media openness in East Turkestan beyond rhetoric into reality.

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Bavaria rebuffs China over Uighur ‘terrorists’

Originally published by The Local, 29 Apr 2010

Bavaria has knocked back a demand from China to list a group representing the Uighur ethnic minority – which has a violent separatist movement in China – as a terrorist organisation.

The demand for Germany to act against the World Uighur Congress was made during Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer’s visit to Beijing for political talks with Chinese leaders.

“There is no reason to think that organisations active in Germany, in particular the World Uighur Congress, are pursuing extremist and therefore terrorist aims, or are supporting violent efforts in China,” the state’s Interior Ministry said in a statement to daily Passauer Neue Presse on Thursday.

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China: Risk of torture for 17-year old in China

Originally published by Amnesty.org.uk, 21 April 2010

AI URGENT ACTION: LIFE SENTENCE FOR 18-YEAR-OLD, UNFAIR TRIAL

 

18-year-old Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz was sentenced to life imprisonment on 13 April 2010, following demonstrations and subsequent violence in western China in July 2009. His trial was unfair and his confession may have been extracted under torture.

Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz has been held incommunicado since 27 July 2009, when he was detained in the wake of unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Police informed his family that he was detained because of his alleged participation in demonstrations in Urumqi (in Chinese: Wulumuqi) on 5 July 2009 and told them that a boy of his build was suspected of attacking people with stones.

His trial by the Aksu (in Chinese: Akesu) Intermediate People’s Court on 13 April lasted only 30 minutes. His mother attended the trial, but was told about it only one day in advance. The Court was shown video footage of a group of Uighurs beating a man. Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz was not present in the group beating the man in the video nor is he shown on the video carrying a stone. The video does, however, show him on the same street. The Court was also shown another video, shot a couple of months later, in which he was taken by police officers to visit the alleged murder scene. On this video, he confesses to the killing. It is possible that his confession was extracted through torture. The Court found Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz guilty of “murder (or intentional homicide)” and “provoking an incident” (Criminal Law articles 232 and 293 respectively). During his trial, he was represented by a lawyer appointed by the court. He is appealing his verdict.

Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz was held for the first 8 months in Xishan Detention Centre in Urumqi, but was then transferred to a detention centre in Aksu in western XUAR, approximately 1000 km from Urumqi for the trial. He was 17 years old at the time of the July 2009 unrest and turned 18 on 16 January in detention.

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China Issues New Wave of Censorship Orders

Originally published by Scoops ,14 April 2010

Press Release: International Federation of Journalists

 A new series of bans and orders forbidding independent coverage of events in China has been issued by China’s Central Propaganda Department.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is informed the department ordered on April 6 that there only be positive coverage of government efforts to rescue 153 workers trapped in a flooded coal mine at Wangjialing in Shanxi Province.

The order also instructed journalists to vacate the area immediately. Any negative reports were to be retracted or deleted from both online and traditional media.

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