China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti

Human Rights Watch, 20 September 2016


By Sophie Richardson — It’s been two years since Ilham Tohti, a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur economist and peaceful critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced to life in prison by the Xinjiang People’s High Court for alleged “separatism” after a grossly unfair trial. Tohti and his family had already endured years of harassment and periods of house arrest by state agents, but in September 2014 Beijing evidently felt it necessary to take him off the grid permanently.

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Uyghur Dissident Jailed by China Nominated For Human Rights Award

Radio Free Asia, 18 September 2016

382743dc-7b57-4471-85b4-532abdfc38a9RFA Uyghur Service — The European Parliament has named jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti as a finalist for a key human rights award in 2016, for “exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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Sakharov Prize 2016: Nominees revealed

European Parliament, 16 September 2016


European Parliament Journalist Can Dündar and fellow defenders of freedom of thought and expression in Turkey, the Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzemilev, the Yazidi survivors and public advocates Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar as well as Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti are this year’s nominees for the Sakharov Prize. The Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize every year to honour exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. The laureate is selected in late October.

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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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