Gheyret Niyaz

Sentenced in July 2010 to 15 years of prison for “Endangering State Security (ESS)”

Gheyret Niyaz (Hailaiti Niyazi), born in 1959, a Uyghur journalist in Urumqi, was taken from his home on 1 October 2009. His family was told by the police on 4 October that he was under suspicion for endangering state security and that he had been detained because he had “given too many media interviews”.

On 23 July 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him in a one-day trial to 15 years’ imprisonment for endangering state security (ESS), according to an interview with Niyaz’s wife, Risalet, reported on uighurbiz.net, where Niyaz was an administrator. He was denied legal representation of his choosing and due process, and his trial was conducted against a background of intense politicization.

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Dilshat Perhat

Released

Sentenced in July 2010 to 5 years’ imprisonment for “Endangering State Security (ESS)”

On 23 or 24 July 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, East Turkestan, sentenced three Uyghur Webmasters, Dilshat Perhat (administrator of the Diyarim Website), Nureli Obul (Selkin Website), and Nijat Azat (Shabnam Website), to 5, 3, and 10 years’ imprisonment, respectively, for endangering state security.

Sources connected the cases said they were sentenced for not deleting postings about hardships in East Turkestan and, in one instance, permitting the posting of announcements for a demonstration in Urumqi in July 2009.

Dilshat’s brother, Dilmurat Perhat, another webmaster of Diyarim who currently resides in the US, told  the Uyghur American Association (UAA) (www.uyghuramerican.org) that his brother Dilshat had repeatedly deleted postings on Diyarim’s message board that advertised the peaceful protest planned for July 5, 2009 in Urumqi and that Dilshat had contacted the Chinese police multiple times to inform them about the postings.  Dilmurat further told UAA that Dilshat had told him that the police had responded that he should not worry as they knew about the plans for the demonstration.

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Nureli Obul

Sentenced in July 2010 to 3 years’ imprisonment for “Endangering State Security (ESS)”

On 23 or 24 July 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, East Turkestan, sentenced three Uyghur Webmasters, Dilshat Perhat (administrator of the Diyarim Website), Nureli Obul (Selkin Website), and Nijat Azat (Shabnam Website), to 5, 3, and 10 years’ imprisonment, respectively, for endangering state security.

Sources connected the cases said they were sentenced for not deleting postings about hardships in East Turkestan and, in one instance, permitting the posting of announcements for a demonstration in Urumqi in July 2009.

Unidentified men in Urumqi took Dilshat Perhat (age at detention: 27) from his home on 7 August 2009. Authorities earlier interrogated him from 24 July to 2 August 2009 in connection to the demonstration and riots in Urumqi. Nijat Azat and Nureli Obul are also believed to have been detained then.

According to his brother, Dilshat Perhat is serving his sentence in the Changji Prison in Changji City, XUAR (about 40km from Urumqi). He receives family visits every 1-2 month for around 20 minutes.

The location at which Nureli Obul and Nijat Azat are serving their sentences is unknown.

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Nijat Azat

Sentenced in July 2010 to 10 years’ imprisonment for “Endangering State Security (ESS)”

On 23 or 24 July 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, East Turkestan, sentenced three Uyghur Webmasters, Dilshat Perhat (administrator of the Diyarim Website), Nureli Obul (Selkin Website), and Nijat Azat (Shabnam Website), to 5, 3, and 10 years’ imprisonment, respectively, for endangering state security.

Sources connected the cases said they were sentenced for not deleting postings about hardships in East Turkestan and, in one instance, permitting the posting of announcements for a demonstration in Urumqi in July 2009.

Unidentified men in Urumqi took Dilshat Perhat (age at detention: 27) from his home on 7 August 2009. Authorities earlier interrogated him from 24 July to 2 August 2009 in connection to the demonstration and riots in Urumqi. Nijat Azat and Nureli Obul are also believed to have been detained then.

According to his brother, Dilshat Perhat is serving his sentence in the Changji Prison in Changji City, XUAR (about 40km from Urumqi). He receives family visits every 1-2 month for around 20 minutes.

The location at which Nureli Obul and Nijat Azat are serving their sentences is unknown.

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Mehbube Ablesh

Released

Sentenced in August 2008 to three years in prison for “inciting splittism.”

According to Radio Free Asia, Mehbube Ablesh (born in 1979), a Uyghur employee in the advertising department at the Xinjiang People’s Radio Station in Urumqi was fired from her job in August 2008 and placed in detention, in apparent connection to her criticism of Chinese government policy in the region.

At that time, charges against her and subsequent information on the case remained unknown. A co-worker connected the detention to articles she wrote for the Internet. An overseas source said that in her communications with him

, she had been critical of political leaders in the XUAR and had criticized Mandarin-focused language policies in the region. A source also noted she had posted articles on the Internet that criticized government security measures for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games and government handling of collecting donations from Uyghurs following the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Following the detention, charges against Mehbube Ablesh and subsequent information on the case appeared unknown until summer 2010, when the Dui Hua Foundation reported newly obtained information on her case. Based on responses to a request for information from Chinese authorities, the Dui Hua Foundation reported that Mehbube Ablesh (identified as Mehbube Abrak in the report) was serving a three-year prison sentence for “splittism” (separatism), a crime under Article 103 of China’s Criminal Law, in apparent connection to her criticism of Chinese government policies. The date of Mehbube Ablesh’s sentencing is not known. Given the relatively short length of the sentence and circumstances of the case, Dui Hua conjectures that the full charge could be “inciting splittism,” rather than “splittism,” a more serious crime.

She was serving her sentence in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi.

Under Article 47 of China’s Criminal Law, each day in custody counts as one day served of a prison sentence. Although the precise date of Mehbube Ablesh’s detention is not known, if authorities followed the law in calculating her sentence from the day around August 2008 when she appears to have been detained, her sentence would have expired on the same date in 2011. However, it is unknown whether she has been released or not.

She is an honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN and the Uyghur PEN (www.uyghurpen.org).

Sources:

Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), Imprisoned Journalists in 2010, 1 December 2010, available at: http://www.cpj.org/imprisoned/2010.php#china

Dui Hua Foundation‘s summer 2010 Dialogue Newsletter, Official Responses to Uyghur Prisoner List Reveal Information on Unique Cases, available at: http://www.duihua.org/work/publications/nl/dialogue/nl_txt/nl40/nl40_3a.htm

International PEN, Uighur journalist and writer detained, 2008, available at:  http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/2891/prmID/1691

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Radio Worker Sacked, Detained, 08 September 2008, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/radio-09082008141404.html?searchterm=None

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Tutqun mehbube ablesh heqqide toluqlima melumatlar, 8 September 2008, available at: http://www.rfa.org/uyghur/xewerler/tepsili_xewer/mehbube-ablesh-turmide2-09082008205116.html/story_main?encoding=latin

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Mehbube Ablesh” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2008-00545), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=7043

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, New Information Released on Uyghur Political Prisoners Mehbube Ablesh and Omer Akchi, Commission Analysis, 11 October 2010, available at: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=146218

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Uyghur Political Prisoners Mehbube Ablesh’s and Abdulghani Memetemin’s Prison Sentences Expire, 18 October 2011, available at: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=163986

[Last updated: November 2011]

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Tursunjan Hezim

Sentenced in July 2010 to 7 years of prison; charges unknown.

According to Radio Free Asia (6 March 11), public security officials in Aksu district, East Turkestan, detained Tursunjan Hezim, a Uyghur man who administered the Uyghur Web site Orkhun, in early July 2009, after demonstrations and riots occurred in Xinjiang starting on July 5. His whereabouts were unknown until March 2011. The Aksu Intermediate People’s Court reportedly held a closed trial and sentenced Tursunjan Hezim in July 2010 to seven years’ imprisonment. Information on the precise date of the sentence and the charges against him is not available. A source familiar with the case said authorities told Tursunjan Hezim’s family about the sentence but did not inform them of the charges.

His website Orkhun focused on Uyghur history and culture and was among several sites that had Bulletin Board Services temporarily shut down during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and that were closed down after the July 2009 events. The website, named after the homeland of ethnic Uyghurs’ Turkic ancestors, had published mostly scholarly articles about Uyghur culture and history.  Aside from his research activities, Hezim also participated in online discussions on Uyghur websites such as Uyghur Online and Bostan under the pen name Yawuz.

Amnesty International condemned this sentence, saying that “[t]his trial is typical of the way the Chinese government has worked in secrecy to persecute Uighurs in China for peaceful expression of their views. If Hezim faces recognizably criminal charges, the Chinese government should put him on trial with due process. Otherwise, he should be released immediately.”

Information is not available on the location where he is serving his sentence.

Sources:

Amnesty International “Chinese crackdown on Uighur writers continues as web editor jailed” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/chinese-crackdown-uighur-writers-continues-web-editor-jailed-2011-03-07), 7 March 2011

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Tursunjan Hezim” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2011-00234), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=8728

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Historian Given 7 Years, 6 March 2011, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/tursunjanhezim-03062011164000.html

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Uighur website editor sentenced in secret in China, 10 March 2011,  http://www.cpj.org/2011/03/uighur-website-editor-sentenced-in-secret-in-china.php

World Uyghur Congress (WUC) Press Release, WUC Condemns 15-year Sentence Handed Down to Uyghur Journalist and Website Editor Gheyret Niyaz, 24 July 2010, available at: http://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/?p=3468

[Last updated: October 2011]

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Nurmuhemmet Yasin

Presumed Released

Sentenced in February 2005 to 15 years of prison for “inciting Uyghur separatism, inciting racial hatred or discrimination”.

According to Radio Free Asia, authorities in East Turkestan detained Nurmuhemmet Yasin (age at detention: 31) on 29 November 2004, after the Kashgar Literature Journal published his story “Wild Pigeon” in late 2004. The story tells of a caged bird who commits suicide rather than live without freedom. According to Dui Hua, on 2 February 2005, the Bachu (Maralweshi) County People’s Court sentenced Nurmuhemmet Yasin to 10 years’ imprisonment for “inciting racial hatred or discrimination,” a crime under Article 249 of the Criminal Law. Some sources have reported that the sentence was for “inciting splittism,” a crime under Article 103 of the Criminal Law.

On 14 July 2005, the same court sentenced Korash Huseyin, editor of the Kashgar Literature Journal, to three years’ imprisonment for “dereliction of duty” for publishing Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s story (Korash Huseyin was released in 2008).

The Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court upheld Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s sentence on appeal on 17 March 2005.

According to information reported in a March 17 Radio Free Asia (RFA) article, prison authorities have taken repercussions against imprisoned writer Nurmemet (Nurmuhemmet) Yasin since he met with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak in late 2005 and reported mistreatment to Nowak. According to the RFA article, authorities have reduced Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s family visits from every two months to twice a year and have restricted Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s activities within prison as punishment for having not “reformed his views.”

He is currently held at Xinjiang No. 1 Prison.

Sources:

Radio Free Asia, Yazghuchi nurmuhemmet yasingha ‘ idiyisini yaxshi özgertmigenlik’ sewebi bilen jaza bérilgen, 17 March 2009, available at: http://www.rfa.org/uyghur/xewerler/tepsili_xewer/nurmemet-yasin-yawa-kepter-03182009023521.html?encoding=latin

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Nurmuhemmet Yasin” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2005-00018), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=5511

Uyghur PEN, Biography of Nurmuhemmet Yasin, available at: http://www.uyghurpen.org/author-biography.html

[Last updated: October 2011]

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Gulmira Imin and and another four Uyghur website moderators

Sentenced in April 2010 to life imprisonment for “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration.”

Chinese security forces detained Gulmira Imin (born in 1978) on 14 July 2009 in the city of Aksu, East Turkestan for her alleged involvement in the organization of the 5 July 2009 demonstration in Urumqi.

At the time of her arrest, Gulmira was as a staff member at the local government office in Aksu where she had began to work in 2000. In addition, she also contributed to the Uyghur-language website Salkin with poetry and short stories and had been invited to help as a moderator in late spring 2009. Gulmira had been critical of government policies in her online writings.

Salkin, we well as other Uyghur websites, reportedly posted an announcement calling Uyghurs to demonstrate in Urumqi on 5 July 2009 against the government´s inaction regarding the Shaoguan incident.

Note on Shaoguan incident: At a toy factory in Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, at least two, but possibly several dozen Uyghur migrant workers were killed by Han Chinese workers on 26 June 2009. While the 5 July protest seemed to be sparked by this incident, the root causes lie in the longstanding discriminatory policies of the Chinese government towards the Uyghurs and the egregious repression of Uyghurs’ religious, political, educational, linguistic, and economic rights.

The 5 July protest was planned as a peaceful protest, was in fact peaceful, and was brutally and lethally suppressed by Chinese security forces. The violent and illegal reaction of the Chinese security forces led then to ethnic violence and riots between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. According to data published by the Chinese Xinhua news agency, thousands were injured and 197 people were killed, but the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) estimates – based on eyewitness reports – that more than 1000 people died in the riots. However, until today, the exact death toll on both sides is not clear since so far no independent investigation of these events has been undertaken. In addition, hundreds of people were detained and an untold number (probably hundreds) of people disappeared.

Gulmira was in Urumqi on 5 July to participate in the demonstration, which many Uyghurs considered legal (demonstration had been announced in internet for several days and was not removed by Chinese authorities, therefore many people believed that the demonstration was authorized by the authorities), and witnessed the brutal crackdown of the demonstration. In the course of the day, she spoke several times by phone with her husband who is living in Norway and told him what was happening on Urumqi. During the conversations, her husband could clearly hear gunshots in the back and Gulmira told him that she saw a lot of casualties, several dead bodies, and that demonstrators were running around and that there was a lot of chaos.

After the events of 5 July 2009, Gulmira was disappeared for three month. Her family believed that she might have been killed in the aftermath of the protests. Her husband in Norway tried to reach Gulmira and family members by phone and e-mail to know her whereabouts, but in the night from 5 – 6 July, Chinese authorities imposed a communication blackout on East Turkestan, which remained in place for nearly 10 months thereby largely cutting off East Turkestan’s residents from the outside world (no internet, no telephone).

Her family only learned about her detention in October 2009, when China Central Television (CCTV) broadcasted a documentary entitled The July 5 Riot from Start to Finish which named and showed Gulmira, wearing prison attire:

It claimed that the July 5th unrest in Urumqi was organized by separatist forces cooperating inside and outside the country and said that Gulmira was one of six organizers who attended three meetings planning the demonstration and that she leaked state secrets to her husband. The leaks were allegedly made in the before mentioned phone calls from Gulmira to her husband on 5 July.

China Central Television also drew links between Gulmira and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which the Chinese authorities have accused of instigating the “riot” or orchestrating events on 5 July 2009, an accusation that is absolutely false and fabricated.

The sentence against her became public only on 8 August 2010 in an article published by Radio Free Asia (RFA). On 1 April 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court tried, convicted, and sentenced Gulmira to life in prison for “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration” that are crimes under Articles 103, 111, and 296 of China’s Criminal Law. Her lawyer, whom she never had met before, was present during the trial. Another five other Uyghur defendants – all website moderators – were sentenced together with Gulmira, namely:  Ahmet Tursun, Muhter, Memetjan Abdulla, Tursun Mehmet, and Gulnisa Memet.

During her trial, Gulmira Imin is said to have tried to address the court about torture and other ill-treatment in a police detention centre that was overcrowded and had no shower facilities. In detention, she and other detainees were given salty water to drink, they were not allowed to go to the toilet, they were beaten, and the wounded were left untreated. Finally she was coerced into signing a document without knowing the content.

Since her conviction, Gulmira has met her lawyer only twice. She is allowed to receive family visits once every three months. She appealed to the court sentence (date unknown), but her appeal was rejected. Gulmira is currently held in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi.

Sources:

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Gulmire Imin” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number: 2010-00238), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=7948

Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), “Imprisoned Journalists in 2010”, 1 December 2010, available at: http://www.cpj.org/imprisoned/2010.php#china

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Web Moderators Get Life, 08 August 2010, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/sentence-08082010190802.html

RFA Unplugged, The Fight For Justice Takes Its Toll On Uyghur Family, 10 September 2010, available at:  http://www.rfaunplugged.org/2010/09/01/the-fight-for-justice-takes-its-toll-on-uyghur-family/

China Central Television (CCTV), The July 5 Riot from Start to Finish, documentary, available on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a0kN7E4GlA&feature=related (part 1), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaObRk6h7jY&feature=related (part 2) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlg6sI7-3qA&feature=related (part 3)

[Last updated: October 2011]

 

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