Uyghur Political Prisoners

This section provides an overview on cases of Uyghur political prisoners that are known to the public. However, the real number is likely to be much higher, but due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities to reveal details on imprisoned Uyghurs, it is impossible to determine the exact number.

For decades, the Chinese government has wrongfully imprisoned Uyghurs for lengthly prison sentences, merely for exercising their freedom of expression, writing articles, peacefully practicing their religion, peacefully protesting, or even for studying abroad. Due to heavy monitoring, restrictions on digital activities and reprisals against individuals or their family members to speak to foreign press or organisations, it is very difficult to get details on the condition and situation of many political prisoners. Even so, the WUC has made this page to document all those wrongfully imprisoned by Chinese authorities and to continue to strive for their release and for justice in their cases.

Jailed Uyghur Professors, Writers, Journalists and Webmasters

  1. Ilham Tohti (life imprisonment)
  2. Gheyret Niyaz (15 years in prison)
  3. Gulmira Imin (life imprisonment) along with another four Uyghur website moderators
  4. Ekbar Eset (unknown)
  5. Memetjan Abdulla (life imprisonment)
  6. Memet Turghun Abdulla (unknown)
  7. Nijat Azat (10 years in prison)
  8. Tursunjan Hezim (7 years in prison)
  9. Tursunjan Muhemmet Marshal (unknown)
  10. Other Uyghur Website Staff Detained after 5 July 2009

Charges Related to Freedom of Speech

  1. Ababekri Ömer (6 years in prison)
  2. Abduhelil Zunun (20 years in prison)
  3. Abdulla Jamal (unknown)
  4. Abdughani Imin and Obulkasim Abliz (13 and 15 years in prison)
  5. Abdukerim Mettersun (unknown)
  6. Ablimit Ghoja’Abdulla (unknown)
  7. Ekberjan Jamal (10 years in prison)
  8. Halmurat Imin (unknown)
  9. Isa Husen (12 years in prison)
  10. Mamatali Ahat (8 years in prison)
  11. Nurhahmat Yusup (20 years in prison)
  12. Niyaz Kahar (unknown)
  13. Omerjan Hasan (Hesen) (unknown)
  14. Tursunjan Hesen (unknown)

Charges Related to Freedom of Association

  1. Abdukadir Mahsum (15 years in prison)
  2. Miradil Yasin and Mutellip Teyip (unknown)
  3. Musha Yushan (unknown)
  4. Omer Akchi (life imprisonment)

Religious Charges

  1. Abdukerim Abduweli (unknown)
  2. Abdusemet Qarihaji (20 years in prison)
  3. Adil Qarim (life imprisonment)
  4. Akemanjiang (unknown)
  5. Ali Ablat (10 years in prison)
  6. Buzainafu Abudourexiti (7 years in prison)
  7. Ghojaexmet Niyaz (6 years in prison)
  8. Horigul Nasir (10 years in prison)
  9. Imam Sulayman (2 years in prison)
  10. Memet Réhim and Memet Sidiq (unknown)
  11. Merdan Seyitakhun, Qurbanjan Abdusemet and another 10 Uyghur Men (various)
  12. Nurtay Memet (5 years in prison)
  13. Perhatjan (unknown)
  14. Qahar Mensur and Muhemmed Tursun (3 years in prison)
  15. Yusufjan and Memetjan (unknown)

Detained for Studying Abroad

  1. 6 Uyghur Students: Kawser, Mewlan, Jawlan, Mudeser, Suriya & Gulshan  (5-12 years in prison)
  2. Hebibulla Tohti (10 years in prison)
  3. Memet Abla, 39, his wife Buzorigul Rishit, 36 and their 12-year-old son Hezritieli Memet (unknown)

Unknown Charges

  1. Ehsan Ismail (life imprisonment)

Reeducation Through Labour (RTL)

  1. Sirajidin Eziz, Nurabla Nurmemet, Abla Ablikim, Eli Hapiz, Ahmet Osman, Ablet Abdurehim, and Omer Salih (16-24 months)

Death in Detention

  1. Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz (life imprisonment; died in Nov. 2011 following allegations of abuse and torture)
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Silenced Crimes Against Humanity: Enforced Disappearances, Arbitrary Arrests, and Extra-Judicial Killings of Uyghurs in China

WUC, 10 March 2014


Brussels – The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), in cooperation with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and Society for Threatened Peoples, and with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy, will be convening a conference entitled ‘The Silenced Crimes against Humanity: Enforced Disappearances, Arbitrary Arrests, and Extra-Judicial Killings of Uyghurs in China’ in Munich, Germany, from 14 to 16 April, 2014.

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Halmurat Imin

Detained in February 2011 for “illegal collection of reactionary propaganda DVDs” and “endangerment of state security.”

According to a spokesperson from the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) Dilshat Raxit cited in 28 February 2011, Radio Free Asia report, public security officials in Urumqi city, detained Halmurat Imin, a 23-year-old Uyghur man from Hoten district on 22 February 2011, in connection to DVDs reportedly in his possession.

Authorities accused him of “illegal collection of reactionary propaganda DVDs” and suspected “endangerment of state security.”

The WUC spokesperson reported that the detention came as authorities heightened security during calls for “Jasmine” protests in China and as Urumqi authorities inspected markets after finding DVDs about U.S.-based Uyghur rights advocate Rebiya Kadeer, namely the film “Ten Conditions of Love” which focuses on her  life and struggles.

Additional information on his case, including his current whereabouts, is not available.

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Memet Turghun Abdulla

Disappeared since May 2010 and believed to be in detention for distributing “separatist ideas.”

According to a public security official cited by Radio Free Asia (RFA), Memet Turghun Abdulla, a Uyghur man from Yengisar county, Kashgar district, disappeared from his home sometime around May 2010 and is believed to be in detention.

Yengisar county state security officials had originally detained Memet Turghun Abdulla in August 2009 for writing an online article about Han Chinese in Guangdong province killing Uyghur factory workers in June 2009, an event which prompted demonstrations in Urumqi on 5 July 2009. He was subsequently confined to his house by authorities.

The RFA source said it is unknown who detained him in May, and local police denied knowledge about his disappearance. However, a recent internal Party bulletin said he had been detained for distributing “separatist ideas.”

Further details about his case, including his current location, are not known.

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Abdughani Imin and Obulkasim Abliz

Released 4 February 2015 and 2 March 2013, respectively

Sentenced in October 2001 to 13 and 15 years’ imprisonment for “inciting splittism.”

According to a report in the summer 2005 issue of Dui Hua Dialogue, and to Dui Hua information based on official Chinese sources, public security officials in Yopurgha (Yuepuhu) county, located in Kashgar prefecture, detained Uyghurs Abdughani Imin and Obulkasim Abliz on 13 and 27 January 2000, respectively, after a third man confessed to police that the three men displayed the banned Uyghur national flag at the county court house on 10 December 1999.

The Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Abliz on 10 October 2001, to 13 years’ imprisonment on the charge of “inciting splittism.” The court sentenced Imin on the same day to 15 years’ imprisonment, probably on the same charge.

Both men appealed to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region High People’s Court, which rejected Abliz’s appeal on 22 January 2002, and Imin’s appeal on an unknown date.

Imin is serving his sentence in Xinjiang Prison No. 1, and Abliz is held in Xinjiang Prison No. 3.


U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Abdughani Imin” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2005-00159), available at:

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Obulkasim Abliz” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2005-00160), available at:

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Patigul and Mahmut Sabir

Presumed Released

Detained in December 2009 for trying to organize a demonstration; charges against them – if any – unknown.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), public security officers in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, detained seven Uyghurs, including a woman named Patigul and man named Mahmut Sabir, on 25 December 2009, as they tried to apply to the government to hold a demonstration.

The group reportedly consisted of family members of people held in detention in connection to demonstrations and riots in Urumqi in July 2009, and the group planned to demonstrate before a court to express their discontent with the handling of cases related to the July 2009 events, including death sentences that had been handed down.

Four of the seven people detained were last known to be held within Tianshan district, Urumqi, while the whereabouts of the other three were unknown.

Further information, including information on their release dates, is not available.


Radio Free Asia (RFA), Ürümchide namayishqa iltimas sunghan 7 uyghur tutqun qilinghan, 29 December 09, available at:

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Patigul” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2010-00367), available at:

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Mahmut Sabir” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number:  2010-00368), available at:

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Tursunjan Hesen

Detained in July 2009 for “revealing state secrets and endangering state security”; sentence against him – if any – unknown.

According to Radio Free Asia, authorities in Dadamtu township, Ghulja (Yining), Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, detained Tursunjan Hesen (Hasan Tursunjan) on 2 July 2009 and reportedly accused him of revealing state secrets and endangering state security, after he had given interviews to overseas media about a case involving his daughter, Arzigul Tursun.

In 2008, local authorities in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture had announced plans to force Arzigul, who was six months pregnant with her third child, to undergo an abortion after she was unable to pay a 45,000 yuan (US $6,591) fine for exceeding the number of children permitted under the region’s population planning regulation.  Arzigul escaped from the local hospital to which she had been forcibly taken for the abortion, but the authorities tracked her down and took her to a larger hospital.

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Other Uyghur Website Staff Detained after 5 July 2009

Other Uyghur website staff who have been detained in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents include but are not limited to: Diyarim contributors Obulqasim, Xeyrinisa (Heyrinisa) and Xalnur (Halnur), both university students, and Erkin, a university professor, who were all arrested on 7 August 2009 in Urumqi. Also Diyarim administrators known by the pen names “Muztagh,” “Lükchek,” and “Yanchuqchi” and Salkin administrator Muhemmet were reportedly arrested.

The Chinese authorities had accused Diyarim, along with other Uyghur-language websites, of helping to foment the unrest because messages had been posted on these websites about the Uyghur demonstration planned for 5 July 2009 in Urumqi. These individuals were detained in the midst of the detention of many other Uyghur website staff.

It is unclear if they have been tried and sentenced. Their whereabouts are unknown.

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