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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Uyghur Asylum Seekers

The internationally recognized rights of asylum seekers have been consistently flouted by the Chinese government for decades, primarily in relation to neighbouring states. Uyghur asylum seekers have been forcibly deported from states with strong trade and diplomatic ties to China for many years.

The act of forcibly repatriating individuals or groups who make it clear about their desire not to be returned to their home country is a clear infringement of well-established international law. The non-refoulement principle spelled out in the 1951 Refugee Convention—to which China is a state party—requires that states do not allow for the forcible return of refugees or asylum-seekers to territories where their “life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Historical Flight of Uyghurs from East Turkestan

Historically speaking, the Chinese government has shifted its approach towards Uyghur out-migration over the years depending on factors including the attitudes of its leaders, activities of the population, and in response to major events. Our current focus will be to develop a better understanding of the Communist Party’s most recent attitude towards Uyghurs who have fled over the last 3-4 years in particular. Despite sporadic openings over the last several decades in the ability of Uyghurs and others to move in an out of the country, the internationally recognized rights of refugees and asylum seekers have been mostly ignored by the Chinese government.

Amnesty International began documenting cases of Uyghurs who were forcibly returned to China in the late 1990s, many of whom had already been registered by the UNHCR as asylum seekers. This trend was immediately noticeable following the attacks on 11 September 2001, which provided China with a handy new vehicle to justify repression of certain communities. Amnesty documented cases of Uyghurs being returned from Nepal, at least seven from Pakistan between 2002 and 2004, as well some from as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

In one highly visible and controversial case, a Canadian citizen, Huseyincan Celil, was arrested while visiting family in Uzbekistan in 2006 and was subsequently deported to China. His case brought international attention and elicited strong objections by the Canadian government. Celil fled China back in 2001 following a short jail term for his support for religious and political rights Uyghurs and now remains in prison in Urumqi. During the ordeal, he was denied access to legal counsel and Canadian officials, his dual citizenship was not recognised, and was forced to sign a confession which led initially to a life sentence (his sentence has since been reduced to 20 years).

In the years that followed, Uyghurs have been forcibly returned from a number of other states. In December 2009, 20 were returned to China from Cambodia, even after the group were in the process of having their asylum claims reviewed by the UNHCR. Only days following the extradition, China and Cambodia signed 14 trade deals worth around 1 billion USD. Another five were returned from Pakistan and eleven from Malaysia in August 2011, and another six again from Malaysia in what Human Rights Watch called, “a grave violation of international law” in 2013. In addition to the above mentioned cases, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Burma, and Nepal have also extradited Uyghurs to China and since 2001 at least 289 Uyghurs have been forcibly deported.

Current Cases

Since 2014, there has been an intensification of these efforts which culminated in the return of  109 Uyghurs on 8 July 2015 from an immigration detention facility in Bangkok, Thailand, despite widespread condemnation from the international community. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had reportedly been given assurances by Thai authorities that those in detention would be safe from persecution, as the group made it plainly clear that they did not want to be deported. Although it was reported that the Thai government sent a delegation to China in order to check on the state of those returned, no official report or statement was ever released concerning the state of the group or their whereabouts.

The deportation came after months of deliberations and pressure to ensure that a number of Uyghur groups, who had fled around the same time to both Thailand and Malaysia, would not have their rights under the Refugee Convention contravened. It was reported on 13 March 2014 that a group of 62 Uyghurs were arrested by Malaysian border control personnel while attempting to cross into Thailand on the northern border. Around the same time, another 200 were found in a human smuggling camp in southern Thailand and were transported to an immigration detention facility in Bangkok. Additionally, another group of 155 Uyghurs were found crammed into two tiny apartment units in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 1 October 2014, and were subsequently transported to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Immigration Detention Depot.

The July deportations came on the heels of Turkey’s acceptance of 173 Uyghurs from the same facility in Bangkok, suggesting that the move may have been in direct response to that action. This approach also indicates the likely intention of the Thai government to appease both the international community and their call to observe international law on the one hand, and heavy pressure from China—a major economic partner—on the other. The ostensible justification given by the Chinese government was that the group was made up of “illegal immigrants” who should therefore be rightfully returned to China in the meantime. As of early 2016, a group of around 50 Uyghurs remain in the Thai facility waiting to have their citizenship verified.

Consequences of this kind of treatment have included arbitrary arrest and detention, abuse, and typically involves dubious criminal charges leveled against those who are returned. The Chinese government has repeatedly called such escapees criminals and all those who are returned have been treated in such a manner in the past.

Seeking a Place to Breathe Freely: Current Challenges Faced by Uyghur Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Following extensive first hand research working directly with Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers who fled to Turkey from East Turkestan, the WUC has published a comprehensive report detailing current conditions in the region as well as the narratives of those whose escape lasted many months. The report, Seeking a Place to Breathe Freely: Current Challenges Faced by Uyghur Refugees & Asylum Seekers, offers a unique, first-hand glimpse into conditions seldom reported and scarcely heard by the international community until now.

Central to the report are the voices of those who decided that they were no longer able to bear the brunt of the repressive Chinese regime for so many years. We heard stories of men who were arrested and tortured for organizing cultural events, women arrested for wearing the hijab, and children who were left without parents after many were detained for indefinite periods.

The general feeling from all those whom we spoke with was of utter helplessness—a near total lack of autonomy or control over their own lives. State controls have become so intense in the region that many felt that they had little choice but to escape with the help of human smugglers.

We recount the vivid details of these clandestine journeys made through China, across the border into Southeast Asia and eventually onto Turkey—all of which have resulted in untold suffering including tremendous financial losses, long arrests, and the cold separation of family members throughout.

The report then looks better understand the motivations behind the decision many made to leave. We were told that cultural and religious restrictions, severe controls on freedom of movement, arbitrary arrests and decrepit conditions and treatment in prison were some of the prime motivating factors. The interviewees were able to sketch a quite clear picture of what is has been like to live as a Uyghur for decades under increasingly strict controls by the Chinese government.

Additionally, the report looks to better contextualize issues faced by Uyghurs who have fled China. We looked to position the Uyghur refugee issue in relation to international law and some of the barriers that continue to persist that have made the Uyghur asylum process very tenuous.

Key recommendations derived from the report are as follows (more detailed recommendations are included in the report itself):

  • China must observe international law and discontinue its harsh and inexcusable repression of the Uyghur population in East Turkestan – particularly those who have been unjustly detained in the past and continue to face severe consequences upon their release.
  • The UNHCR must continue to develop a competent interstate supervisory body to hold states accountable if they fail to meet their protection obligations under the Refugee Convention.
  • UNHCR officials must recognize the severity of the situation among Uyghur refugees and the consequences faced by those who have been returned in the past.
  • States on China’s border and extended periphery, particularly Thailand and Malaysia, must observe international law with regards to their handling of Uyghur refugees.
  • Southeast Asian states in particular must take steps to ensure that rampant corruption witnessed by Uyghur refugees is rooted out.
  • The Turkish government must recognize the rights of Uyghur asylum seekers who have landed in Turkey.
  • Other states on China’s border to the west (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) must uphold international law and ensure that political and economic considerations, namely the influence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, do not trump international law.

The overarching goal of the report has been to overcome the persistent obstacle that impedes our understanding of how members of the Uyghur population in China are coping with state policies. It is our intention to make these findings available to all interested parties including those working in government or civil society, and the general public.

The report can be downloaded here.

 

Continue Reading →

Enforced Disappearances

This section provides an overview of cases where Uyghurs were captured by Chinese authorities and subsequently disappeared during the events of the July 2009 disturbances and its aftermath.

On 5 July 2009, demonstrations erupted in the streets of Urumqi, East Turkestan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The protests initially began peacefully as demonstrators called for a full investigation into an incident in Shaoguan, Southern China several days earlier in which seventeen Uyghurs had been killed, although official government figures were markedly lower. The peaceful protests then escalated into violent attacks between Uyghurs and Han Chinese later that day, in which many Uyghurs and Han Chinese needlessly lost their lives or were left injured as a result of the ensuing violence, notwithstanding the many buildings that were destroyed.

The crisis did not end with the violence as it continued for several days after the initial unrest whereby many Uyghurs, most of whom were male, disappeared as wide-scale police sweeps stepped up. Just a few days after the eruption of violence, some Uyghur women told a Daily Telegraph reporter that police officers entered Uyghur neighbourhoods during the night of 6 July in order to pull men and boys out of their beds, subsequently rounding up approximately 100 suspects. On 21 October 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented 43 cases of Uyghur men who disappeared after being taken away by Chinese security forces in large-scale overnight sweeps of Uyghur neighbourhoods on 6 and 7 July 8.


Alim Abdurehim

(阿里木.阿不都热依木)

Age at disappearance: 35

Profession: An employee of the Astane Company

Place of Birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR)

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, XUAR

Details of Disappearance: According to his wife, Alim Abdurehim is innocent of any crime and did not attend the riots on 5 July 2009. In fact, he was arrested for engaging in a minor argument with a police officer who was blocking the streets at the time. Although Alim Abdurehim’s wife has been diligently looking for him since his disappearance, she has yet to find any information on his whereabouts.

 

 

 

 

 

Memetable Abdurehim

(麦麦提阿布拉.阿不都依木)

Age at disappearance: 17

Place of Birth: Qaghliq, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unemployed

Date of capture: Unkown

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: He was taken away on July 6th from his rental apartment in SaiMaChang district in Urumqi. He was arrested along with two of his roommates; one of the three arrested men was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Another was released but Memetabla is nowhere to be found.


 

 

 

 

 

Abdurahim A.

Age at disappearance: 18

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 11 August 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Abdurahim was captured by a group of security personnel on 11 August 2009. His relatives were unable to obtain any information about his fate or whereabouts.


 

 

 

 

 

 Abdurakhman A.

Age at disappearance: 31

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Saimachang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, at around 19:00 on 6 July 2009, 150 uniformed policemen and military officers sealed off Abdurakhman’s neighbourhood. They went house by house and ordered all inhabitants outside. They selected Abdurakhman, Makmud M. and 16 other men and took them away in their trucks. Police have released no information about Abdurakhman’s whereabouts or wellbeing.


 

 

 

 

Anvar-Ahun A.

Age at disappearance: 35

Place of birth: Saimachang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Vendor

Date of capture: 3 August 2009

Place of capture: Saimachang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, on the afternoon of 3 August 2009, Anvar-Ahun was arrested by soldiers at the entrance to his neighbourhood, as he was returning home. His family have received no information about his welfare or whereabouts since then.


 

 

 

 

 

Memet Turghun Abdulla

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Yengisar county, Kashgar district, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: May 2010

Place of capture: Yengisar county, Kashgar district, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: He was originally detained in August 2009 for writing an online article entitled “Everyone Needs Equality,” in the aftermath of large-scale demonstrations in Urumqi. He was later put under house arrest before being arrested again in May 2010. Police have denied any knowledge of his disappearance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Abdukerim Abla

(阿布都克力木. 阿布拉)

Age at disappearance: 22

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Retail Associate

Date of capture: 13 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 13 August 2009, police officers raided the Dong Koruk International Bazaar in Urumqi City, where he worked, in the morning around 10:00. Four special enforcement police dressed in black walked into the store in which Abdukerim was working and left shortly after capturing a photo of him. A few hours later, the same police officers walked into the store again and arrested him.


 

 

 

Abduleziz Ablet

(阿不都艾则孜.阿不来提)

Age at disappearance: 17

Place of Birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Assistant chef

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to Abduleziz’s parents, he left for work in the morning on 5 July 2009 and has not since returned home. On the day of his disappearance, his parents went to look for him at the restaurant and learned that Abduleziz had disappeared from the restaurant after 15:00 that day. Abduleziz’s parents then went to the local police station with this information, but were told that Abduleziz was not on the list of arrested suspects. Abduleziz’s family has heard nothing of his situation; they do not know whether or not he participated in the riots, nor do they know where he was taken and whether or not he is alive.


 

 

 

Memet Barat

(麦麦提.巴拉提)

Age at disappearance: 25

Place of Birth: Qarakash, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of case: Memet Barat was arrested from his neighbourhood in Tashbulaq province, Urumqi the day after the 5 July incident along with fourteen of his neighbours. Although all fourteen of his neighbours were released within one to eight months after the incident, there is yet to be any news about Memet Barat.


 

 

 

 

 

Alimjan Bekri

(阿力木江. 拜克力)

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Real Estate Agent

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Alimjan participated in the protest on 5 July 2009 to express his dissatisfaction with the ways the Shaoguan situation was handled. Alimjan Bekri was last seen on 5 July 2012 around 08:00 by a building labelled City Music Factory in Urumqi.


 

 

 

 

Tahirjan Ebey

(塔依尔江. 艾拜)

Age at disappearance: 36

Place of birth: Unknown, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Street Vendor (Food Cart)

Date of capture: 07 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On the morning of 07 July 2009, Tahirjan Ebey left to work pushing his food cart. He never returned home and his family is certain that he was forcibly disappeared by the Chinese authorities.


 

 

 

 

 

Imammemet Eli

(伊马木麦麦提.艾力)

Age at disappearance: 22

Place of Birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Recent graduate from South China University of Technology, anticipating to start a new career at the time of capture.

Date of capture: 14 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to his mother, Imammemet Eli had initially joined the 5 July protest in Urumqi, but had stopped participating when the situation became violent. Imammemet Eli was arrested along with four of his friends while playing billiards just over a week after the riots. His friends were gradually released over the next six months, but there is yet to be any news about Imammemet.


 

 

 

Nebi Eli

(乃比. 艾力)

Age at disappearance: 16

Place of birth: Qaraqash Province, Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Student

Date of capture: 15 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Nebi was last seen by his father, Elijan Rozi, demonstrating in the streets of Urumqi on 15 August 2009 with several other detainees. They were surrounded by about thirty armed police personnel and were later forcefully taken away in a police vehicle.


 

 

 

 

Eysajan Emet

(艾沙江. 艾买提)

Age at disappearance: 25

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Chef/Musician

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 5 July 2009, Eysajan Emet and his wife were arrested on the streets of Urumqi where they were caught in the middle of the unrest. His wife Toxtigul was freed later that day due to her pregnancy, but Eysajan was kept at the detention centre and since then there has been no news about his case.


 

 

 

 

Abdugheni Eziz

(阿不都艾尼. 艾则孜)

Age at disappearance: 39

Place of birth: Qaraqash province Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Entrepreneur

Date of capture: 31 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 31 July 2009, seven Chinese police officers came to his home in Urumqi and arrested Abdugheni Eziz, without disclosing any viable reasons. These police officers also reportedly confiscated his car and robbed him of 2600 Yuan cash that was on his person. A friend of Abdugheni Eziz, Mewlan Zeridin, was also arrested at the time, subsequently being released 5 months later.


 

 

 

Fazlidden F.

Age at time of disappearance: 18

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 28 July 2009

Place of capture: Erdiaogiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, after conducting initial sweeps of his neighbourhood on the 6th and 7th of July 2009 where 15 young men were taken away, 3 police officers in plain clothes returned on 28 July 2009 and took Fazliddin away for questioning. He has not been seen or heard from again.


 

 

 

 

Aytqazi Hasanbek

(阿伊提卡孜.艾山别克)

Age at disappearance: 26

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Recent graduate from Forestry Designing Institute, still in search of a job

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Tianshan region, Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of disappearance: Though he was not involved in any protests or riots, reports suggest that he was arrested due to his physical appearance and the fact that he resembled many of the protestors. At approximately 19:00 that day, Aytqazi called home to his mother and told her that he was being held at the local Bahulyang Police Department and that he hoped that he would be let go once the police realised that he was innocent. He has not been seen or heard from since.


 

 

 

 

TohtiEli Hashim

(图合提. 阿西木)

Age at disappearance: 21

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Restaurant Associate

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 6 July 2009, TohtiEli’s family in Kashgar received a phone call from the owner of the restaurant where TohtiEli was working at the time. The restaurant owner, Sulayman, indicated that TohtiEli had been shot on his way home from the restaurant after work. Sulayman has since claimed he does not know what happened to TohtiEli and denied that the conversation ever with his family ever took place. There has been no sign of TohtiEli since.


 

 

 

 

Alimjan Helaji

(阿里木江. 海阿洁)

Age at disappearance: 17

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Street fruit vendor

Date of capture: 10 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: N/A

 


 

 

 

 

 

Nurul Islam

(努尔勒. 伊斯拉姆)

Age at disappearance: 16

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Student

Date of capture: 27 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to Nurul Islam’s mother, Pasha Dawut, he was arrested shortly after the 5 July incident in 2009. Police officials told Pasha Dawut that her son was being detained for political education purposes and that he would be released upon the completion of the programme. In October 2012, Pasha Dawut was informed by the police that Nurul Islam had carried out a hunger strike in prison and that he was being treated at a hospital. Upon her arrival at the hospital, Pasha Dawut saw the poor condition her son was in and realised that her son was being tortured in prison. Pasha Dawut was forced to leave the hospital soon after, despite her request to spend the night with her son. The next day, she was informed of Nurul Islam’s death.


 

 

Jalal-Ahun J.

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 August 2009

Place of capture: Saimachang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Jalal-Ahun was detained by military and police officers, along with his brother Jamshid J. and two other men near the local market in the Saimachang area, for participating in the riots. Local police told Jalal-Ahun’s family he was fine and in Kashgar, but he has not been seen or heard from since his disappearance.


 

 

 

 

 

Jamshid J.

Age at disappearance: 25

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Jamshid was detained by military and police officers, along with his brother Jalal-Ahun J. and two other men near the local market in the Saimachang area, for participating in the riots. Local police told Jalal-Ahun’s family he was fine and in Kashgar, but he has not been seen or heard from since his disappearance.


 

 

 

 

 

Ehmetjan Jume

(艾合麦提江. 居麦)

Age at disappearance: 26

Place of birth: Qaraqash, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Street vendor (dried fruits)

Date of capture: 27 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Ehmetjan Jume was arrested on the night of 27 August 2009 from the Saybagh Regional Evening Bazaar, where he was selling dried fruits.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Amantay Jumetay

(阿曼塔依. 居买台)

Age at disappearance: 39

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Bus driver at the Transportation Department of Urumqi

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On the evening of 5 July 2009, Amantay had come to visit his parents to ensure their safety. He then left to visit his sister, but he never made it to his sister’s house and he has been missing since.


 

 

 

 

 

Karim-Ahun K. 

Age at disappearance: 16

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Karim-Ahun was detained, along with another man, by police and military officers after a sweep of his neighbourhood.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Muhammadin M. 

Age at disappearance: 25

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Doctor

Date of capture: 11 August 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Muhammadin was arrested at his medical clinic by two men in civilian clothes and two men in military uniforms and driven away in their car. With no relatives in Urumqi, it was not possible to verify if he was still missing, but his neighbours told HRW that he had not returned.


 

 

 

 

 

Makmud M.

Age at disappearance: 25

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Saimchang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, at around 19:00 on 6 July 2009, 150 uniformed policemen and military officers sealed off Makmud’s neighbourhood. They went house by house and ordered all inhabitants outside. They selected Makmud, Abdurakhman A. and 16 other men and took them away in their trucks.


 

 

 

 

 

Zakir Memet

(扎克尔.麦麦提)

Age at disappearance: 34

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 15 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: About 2 weeks after the unrest, Zakir Memet was arrested from his neighborhood in Urumqi (Bulak Beshi 2nd St). Zakir Memet was arrested together with Muxter Mexet.


 

 

 

 

 

Muxter Mexet

(穆合塔尔. 麦麦提)

Age at disappearance: 35

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 15 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Approximately 2 weeks after the 5 July Urumqi unrest, Muxter Mexet was arrested from his neighbourhood in Urumqi (Bulak Beshi 2nd St). Muxter Mexet was arrested together with Zakir Memet. No further information has been disclosed.


 

 

 

 

 

Imin Momin

(伊明. 木明)

Age at disappearance: 28

Place of birth: Unknown, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Construction Worker

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Imin Momin disappeared on the night of 5 July 2009 while he was walking home after work with 3 of his peers. While walking, they were warned by a bystander about the violence and random arrests happening on the streets ahead. Subsequently, the four peers split up to go their separate ways since walking in a group would seem suspicious in the eyes of the police. Immediately after their separation, the four were arrested. One of the four men arrested was sentenced to 17 years in prison, while the other two were released after a few months; but there has been no information about Imin Momin’s whereabouts.


 

 

 

 

Nuriddin N. 

Age at disappearance: 20

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 7 July 2009

Place of capture: Saimachang, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Nuriddin was detained by Chinese security forces during a large sweep of his neighbourhood. At 20:00 on the evening of 7 July 2009, 8-10 police and military officers broke into Nuriddin’s father’s house and took Nuriddin away in their truck.


 

 

 

 

 

Turghun Obulqasim

(吐尔洪. 乌不力哈斯木)

Age at disappearance: 33

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Restaurant manager/cook at the Medina Restaurant

Date of capture: 9 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: In an interview with Radio Free Asia – Uyghur service, Salfurat, a Pakistani manager of the Urumqi based Huaqiao Hotel (Muhajirlar Hotel) revealed that on 9 July 2009 Turghun Obulqasim and four other employees of the Medina restaurant were taken away by a group of Chinese police officers without any clarification of the charges. Four of the five victims taken from the Medina restaurant were released within a few months following the arrest, but Turghun Obulqasim’s whereabouts remain unclear.


 

 

Abliz Qadir

(阿布力孜. 卡德尔)

Age at disappearance: 36

Place of birth: Yarkent, Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Baker

Date of capture: 1 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 1 August 2009, Abliz Qadir was arrested along with his two mentees from a local nan-bakery where they worked, located in the Seybagh neighborhood of Urumqi. About 7 months later, both of his mentees were released from prison but nothing has been heard of Abliz Qadir.


 

 

 

 

Abdurehim Qadir

(阿布德热伊木. 卡德尔)

Age at disappearance: 45

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Blacksmith

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 5 July 2009, Abdurehim Qadir decided to close his shop and stay home due to the unrest on the streets. In the morning of 6 July 2009, policemen forced their way into his home and arrested him. Abdurehim’s wife has not heard from him since and her attempts to search for him have been unsuccessful.


 

 

 

Shakir Sh. 

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, 20 armed police and military officers conducted a sweep of the neighbourhood in Erdaoqiao where Shakir Sh. lived. The dragged several men out of their homes and selected Shakir Sh. And his neighbour Ziyad-Ahun Z. They were taken away in the soldier’s vehicles and have not been heard from since.


 

 

 

 

Sharafutdin Sh.

Age at disappearance: 14

Place of birth: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 7 August 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, on 7 August 2009, Sharafutdin was walking from his home to his father’s shop, but failed to show up. Witnesses attested that he had somehow been wounded in his leg and was taken to the hospital by security forces, along with 3 other boys. After receiving basic treatment, Sharafutdin and the others were loaded into a truck by soldiers and have not been heard from since.


 

 

 

 

Abdurehim Sidiq

(阿不都热依木. 萨迪克)

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Car mechanic

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to Abdurehim’s wife Ayse, Abdurehim Sidiq left home to go to Bulaqbeshi Bazar Market on July 5, 2009 to purchase shoes, but he never returned home. Whether he took part in the riots and protests on the streets is unclear.


 

 

 

 

Abaxun Sopur

(阿巴洪. 苏扑尔)

Age at disappearance: 33

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Street fruit vendor

Date of capture: 7 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: On 7 July 2009, Abaxun was taken to the Shenming Police station on the evening of 7 July, where he was interrogated by a Kazakh police officer named Aytan. Shortly after, Abaxun and some thirty individuals were sent away to various jails and detention centres in Urumqi. He has not been seen or heard from since.


 

 

 

Ablajan Sulayman

(阿布拉江. 苏莱曼)

Age at disappearance: 19

Place of birth: Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture, Town of Baren, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Retail Associate

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Radio Free Asia’s investigations revealed that Ablajan Sulayman was arrested from his workplace located in the Seymachange neighborhood of Urumqi city on 6 July 2009. About a month after the arrest, Ablajan’s family was notified that Ablajan was found innocent and that he was being held at the Michuen Detention Center merely for political education purposes. This was the last time Ablajan Sulayman’s family heard about him.


 

 

Bekri Toxti

(拜科日. 托合提)

Age at disappearance: 34

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unkown

Date of capture: Unknown

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: N/A

 


 

 

 

 

Tursunjan Tohti

(吐尔逊江. 托合提)

Age at disappearance: 26

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Hairdresser, Barber Shop owner

Date of capture: 1 August 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Tursunjan was arrested by a team of police officers led by an office named Nurdun. According to these witnesses, a police car came and parked in front of a store across the street from the barbershop, and a few of the police officers crossed the street and walked into the barbershop. They demanded for 5 of the barbershop employees to come outside and forced them to kneel on the ground. Subsequently, one of the police officers ordered for Tursunjan Tohti to be arrested.


 

 

Enver Turdi

(艾尼瓦尔. 吐尔地)

Age at disappearance: 26

Place of birth: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Farmer, Construction Worker

Date of capture: 07 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Enver Turdi was in Urumqi for work when he was arrested on 7 July 2009, the day after his brother was arrested. His brother, Imin Turdi, was released 4 months late and police told the Turdi family that Enver was still in Urumqi and that he was to be released in about 8 to 9 months. Unfortunately, Enver was never released after his arrest and his whereabouts are still unknown till this day.


 

 

 

Yusup Turghun

(玉素甫. 吐尔逊)

Age at disappearance: 20

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Student

Date of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Place of capture: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: N/A

 


 

 

 

 

Ekber Tursun

(艾克拜尔.吐尔逊)

Age at disappearance: 26

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Entrepreneur

Date of capture: 20 October 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: About 3 months after the 5 July incident, Ekber Tursun was reportedly arrested by 2 undercover police officers from the Kashgar Police Department dressed in civilian clothes as he was working at his store. They claimed to have a few questions for Ekber and asked him to come with them. These undercover police officers also told Ekber’s employees that they would release him after asking him some questions, and left their phone numbers for reassurance. Ekber did not return to his store or his home after that.


 

 

 

Jumejan Tursun

(居麦江. 吐尔逊)

Age at disappearance: 27

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Jumejan Tursun’s health was in very poor condition as the result of severe tuberculosis at the time of the incident. Jumejan was on his way from the hospital when he was arrested. After his arrest, Jumejan was brought back to his home for interrogation, and then taken away by the police officials. Jumejan Tursun did not participate in the unrest or protests.


 

 

 

 

Turdimemet Tursunniyaz

(吐尔地麦麦提. 玉素甫尼亚孜)

Age at disappearance: 20

Place of birth: Qarakash Province, Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Butcher

Date of capture: 5 July 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: Turdimemet’s parents conclude that on 5 July 2009, Turdimemet left for work in the morning and never returned.


 

 

 

 

 

Umar-Ahun U.

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Carpenter

Date of capture: 27 July 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, Umar-Ahun was detained by police and military officers on 27 July 2009. No information is available regarding his welfare or whereabouts after that date.


 

 

 

 

 

Memtimin Yasin

(麦麦提依明. 牙生)

Age at time of disappearance: 33

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: Unknown

Place of capture: Unknown

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: N/A


 

 

 

 

 

Ziyad-Ahun Z. 

Age at disappearance: 24

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Market vendor

Date of capture: 6 July 2009

Place of capture: Erdaoqiao, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Details of Disappearance: According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, 20 armed police and military officers conducted a sweep of the neighbourhood in Erdaoqiao where Ziyad-Ahun lived. The dragged several men out of their homes and selected Ziyad-Ahun and his neighbour Shakir Sh. They were taken away in the soliders vehicles and have not been heard from since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Cases of Enforced Disappearance

 

 

Akemanjiang

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Restaurant Manager

Date of capture: September 2008

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: He was reportedly arrested for not following government policy requiring restaurants to stay open during the month of Ramadan. It was reported that he was beaten in detention, but no further details are available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tursunjan Hesen 

Age at time of disappearance: 67

Place of birth: Yining, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 2 July 2009

Place of capture: Yining, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance:  He was reportedly arrested and accused of revealing state secrets and endangering state security. He had given interviews to the international press regarding a case involving his daughter, where she was being forced by Chinese authorities to have an abortion against her wishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halmurat Imin 

Age at time of disappearance: 23

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 22 February 2011

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Halmurat was detained on charges of “illegal collection of reactionary propaganda DVDs” and “endangerment of state security”. He was reportedly detained by public security officials in connection to DVDs allegedly in his possession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdullah Jamal

Age at time of disappearance: 42

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Middle school teacher

Date of capture: April 2015

Place of capture: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: He was initially detained on 12 March 2005 and formally arrested in April 2005 after publishing books that authorities claimed “incited separatism”. Amnesty International reported that he was arrested for writing a manuscript entitled, “Disaster in the Oil Well” that authorities claimed incited separatism. According to these sources, his detention took place after he submitted his manuscript for publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdukerim Mettersun

Age at time of disappearance: 28

Place of birth: Lop, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 2 March 1997

Place of capture: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: He was reportedly detained by police in August 1995 and taken to the detention centre of the Lop county Public Security Bureau on suspicion of handing out ”nationalist propaganda” to Uyghur students. He is known to have been detained there for more than three years without being questioned or charged and was last confirmed to be held without charge at the end of 1998. Since being detained he has requested a defence lawyer, but his request has not been met. Further details about his case, including information on any subsequent charges or release, are not known.

 

 

 

 

 

Perhatjan

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Restaurant Manager

Date of capture: September 2008

Place of capture: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Aut onomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Perhatjan was reportedly arrested by the Chinese authorities after calling on other restaurant owners to challenge the government policy that restaurants were required to stay open during Ramadan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memet Réhen & Memet Sadiq

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Religious leader

Date of capture: March 2011

Place of capture: Shihezi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Memet Rehen was detained along with Memet Sadiq on suspsicion of distributing “illegal religious materials”. They were reportedly giving electronic Qurans made in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to acquaintances as gifts. There have been no reports of Memet’s whereabouts or status.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yusufjan & Memetjan

Age at time of disappearance: 27 (Yusufjan) & 24 (Memetjan)

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Students at Xinjiang University

Date of capture: 10 May 2009

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Yusufjan and Memetjan were detained by public security officers, along with 5 other students, who were all members of a religious Muslim group that met on campus. While the 5 other students were released after 15 days of detention, Yusufjan and Memetjan remained in detention and there has been no word from them since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patigul & Mahmut Sabir

Age at time of disappearance: 59 (Mahmut)

Place of birth: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 25 December 2009

Place of capture: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Patigual and Mahmut Sabir were reportedly detained by public security officers, along with 5 other people, on charges relating to trying to organize a demonstration. The group consisted of family members 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Miradil Yasin & Mutellip Téyip

Age at time of disappearance: 20 (Miradil) & 19 (Mutellip)

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Students at Xinjiang University

Date of capture: 20 December 2008

Place of capture: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Miradil and Mutellip were both detained on charges relating to the distribution of leaflets containing “reactionary” and “malicious” content. They were reportedly arrest by Urumqi authorities for distributing leaflets at Xinjiang University calling on students to protest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musha Yushan

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 2 March 1997

Place of capture: Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: uthorities are believed to have charged Yushan with “organizing, leading, or actively participating in a counterrevolutionary group,” a crime under Article 98 of China’s 1979 Criminal Law. A court in Aksu prefecture sentenced Yushan on an unknown date to an unknown prison term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uyghur Refugees Disappeared After Deportation to China

 

Abduxur Ablimit

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: August 2011

Place of capture: Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Ablimit was initially scheduled to be returned to China with Manzokra Mamad and 4 other Uyghurs, but was not taken for unspecified reasons. There has been no word from him since he was returned to China.

 

 

 

 

 

Ahmet Memet & Turgan Abbas

Age at time of disappearance: 21 (Memet) & 27 (Abbas)

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Religious students

Date of capture: December 2001

Place of capture: Kazakstan

Country of deportation: Kazakstan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Fled from East Turkestan in August 1999, after their release from Yerken detention center, Kashgar prefecture, where they had reportedly been detained and interrogated for one month on suspicion of engaging in “illegal religious” and “separatist” activities. Charged in Kazakhstan and sentenced in April 2000 to eighteen months in prison for “illegally crossing the border.” They were deported to China where they face unknown charges.

 

 

 

 

Ismail Abdusemed Haji (Ilham), Abdulhakim 

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Unknown

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 2 February 2002

Place of capture: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, and unconfirmed reports suggested that they were handed over to China without legal process. Other reports have also indicated that Chinese officials in plain clothes accompanied Pakistani police at the time of their arrest. There is no further information.

 

 

 

 

 

Shaheer Ali (Shirali) & Abdu Allah Sattar (Abdullah Sattar)

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 10 Januray 2002

Place of capture: Nepal

Country of deportation: Nepal

Current Status: Deceased (Shaheer Ali) & Unknown (Abdu Allah Sattar)

Details of Disappearance: Shaheer Ali was a young Uighur nationalist from Hotan who had been imprisoned and tortured in China in 1994 in connection with his political activities. He fled to Nepal at the same time as Abdu Allah Sattar. They were detained by Nepalese immigration authorities and later forcibly returned to China. Sources received no further information on Shaheer Ali until October 2003, when it was reported in official Chinese media that he had been executed. The fate of Abdu Allah Sattar is unknown.

 

 

 

 

Israel Ahmet & 11 others

Age at time of disappearance: 25

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: Summer 2014

Place of capture: Afghanistan

Country of deportation: Afghanistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Isreal Ahmet immigrated to Afghanistan from East Turkestan and lived and worked as a businessman in Kabul for more than a decade. He was detained in Kabul allegedly for lacking legal documentation and carrying counterfeit money. Ahmet was also reportedly accused of being a spy and was held in a jail cell with more than two dozen other Uyghurs including women and children. After a short stay in detention, he was then escorted to the Kabul International Airport, where Chinese officials forced him onto a plane back to China. Eleven other Uyghur men sharing the cell were sent back to China, according to the same NDS official, who also stated that six women and 12 children in another cell had refused to go.

 

 

Ablimit Dawatoglu (Abdulhamit Davutoglu), Kamiljan Omeroglu (Kemal Ömeroglu) & Ehmet Rashidi (Ahmet Resit)

Age at time of disappearance: 37, 47 and 48 respectively

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Businessmen

Date of capture: January 2011

Place of capture: Tajikistan

Country of deportation: Tajikistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Three Uyghur businessmen who travelled to Tajikistan frequently were detained by Tajik authorities on unknown charges. On 8 January 2011, Ablimit Dawatoglu was reportedly picked up by Tajik security forces in Dushanbe and on the following day, Kamiljan Omeroglu and Ehmet Rashidi were then held when they went to the police department to inquire about Dawatoglu. All three had left East Turkestan within the last 10 years prior and two of them had received Turkish citizenship over the previous three years while the third received it four months prior.

 

 

 

 

Faruh Dilshat

Age at time of disappearance: 23

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 30 November 2011

Place of capture: Stockholm, Sweden

Country of deportation: Sweden

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Reportedly participated in demonstrations held by the Swedish Uyghur community in front of the Chinese embassy in Stockholm. Deported from Sweden in November 2011 after his request for political asylum was refused.

 

 

 

 

 

Rehmetjan Ehmet

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Businessman

Date of capture: May 2007

Place of capture: Uzbekistan

Country of deportation: Uzbekistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Rehmetjan Ehmet was successful businessman, temporarily living in Uzbekistan, conducting business., when he was reportedly arrested and returned to China and unknown charges.

 

 

 

 

 

Abdukakhar Idris

Age at time of disappearance: 22

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Tailor and bookkeeper

Date of capture: April-May 2003

Place of capture: Almaty, Kazakstan

Country of deportation: Kazakstan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Idris disappeared in Almaty, Kazakhstan while seeking asylum with the UNHCR in April or May 2003 and is believed to have been forcibly returned to China. Idris was detained at the Kazakh border town of Panfilov on 19 April 2001 and reportedly sentenced to one year in prison by Panfilov District Court on 19 September 2001 for “illegally crossing the border.” He was released on 7 March 2002, after which he approached the UNHCR for asylum. He then lived in hiding in Almaty, until he went missing approximately one year later after being taken from his home by Kazakh police.

 

 

 

 

Ismayil Kadir (Ilham Kadir)

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Unknown

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: March 2002

Place of capture: Kashmir or Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Presumed Dead

Details of Disappearance: The Associated Press reported a statement by Chinese officials saying that Pakistani authorities had arrested Ismayil Kadir, who was alleged to be the third ranking member of the ETIM, but his membership is disputed. Since his forcible return to China, no further information has become available about Ismail Kadir’s place of detention or legal status.

 

 

 

 

 

Manzokra Mamad, Menzire Memet, 2 children and one other adult

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 8 August 2011

Place of capture: Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: The group of five was brought to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on 8 August 2011, and boarded flight CZ6008 operated by China’s Southern Airline and returned to Urumqi. The five were reportedly brought handcuffed and blindfolded onto a Southern Airline flight, a Chinese carrier, and taken through a VIP gate to the plane. They were allegedly wanted for political activities abroad and have not been heard from since.

 

 

 

 

Omer Muhter

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: January 2011

Place of capture: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Muhter went missing from Rawalpindi in Pakistan in January 2011 and is feared to have been deported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nur Muhemmed

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 6 August 2011

Place of capture: Bangkok, Thailand

Country of deportation: Thailand

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Initially reported that Muhemmed fled Urumqi after Chinese authorities accused him of involvement in deadly ethnic unrest in Urumqi in 2009. These reports suggested that he was arrested by Thai authorities for illegally entering the country after fleeing China through Burma.

 

 

 

 

Adile Omer

Age at time of disappearance: 25

Place of birth: Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 2 Januray 2012

Place of capture: Stockholm, Sweden

Country of deportation: Sweden

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: She was forcibly deported on 2 January 2012, after being held in an immigration detention center in Stockholm since December 23 and after her appeal to an asylum claim was denied. She reportedly participated in demonstrations held by the Swedish Uyghur community in front of the Chinese embassy in Stockholm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kurbanjan Sirajidin Ahmet Sadiq,& 10 others

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 18 August 2011

Place of capture: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Country of deportation: Malaysia

Current Status: Many likely in detention, but not certain

Details of Disappearance: Ahmet Sadiq and ten others were among 16 Uyghurs who were detained by Malaysian police in separate raids in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru city on 6 August 2011. Of the group of 16, two were released soon after arrest and three were released into the agency’s custody as “persons of concern.” On August 26, the group of 11 were deported to China. Prior to the deportation, UNHCR officials reported that they had tried to meet with the group, but were denied access by the Malaysian government. According to relatives, a number of those returned to China were sentenced on separatism charges.

 

 

 

Muhtar Tiliwaldi

Age at time of disappearance: 42

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 13 July 2006

Place of capture: Germany

Country of deportation: Germany

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Tiliwaldi fled East Turkestan in 1998 and arrived in Germany seeking political asylum. From 2001 to 2006 he lived with exceptional leave to remain in Mainz. On 16 June 2006 he was arrested by German police and held in a police holding centre for deportees. On July 13, he was deported by German immigration authorities having failed to secure refugee status.

 

 

 

 

 

Abdulwahab Tohti

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: July-August 2003

Place of capture: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: On 16 July 2003, Abdulwahab went missing in Rawalpindi along with Muhammed Tohti Metrozi. Both were reportedly engaging in “pro-independence activities” in the XUAR before fleeing to Pakistan. RFA recently reported that Metrozi’s prison sentence had been commuted in 2016 by Chinese authorities.

 

 

 

 

 

Elham Tohtam, Ablitip Abdul Kadir, Enver Tohti (Enver Dawut)

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Ghulja, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 22 April 2002

Place of capture: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: All three went missing in Rawalpindi, northern Pakistan on or around 22 April 2002 and all had reportedly applied to UNHCR for asylum and were awaiting the results of their applications. Elham Tohtam was picked up by the police at around 6.30am and, according to eye-witnesses, blind-folded and led away to an unknown destination. Unofficial sources suggest that the three were detained upon their return to China, although the charges against them and other details about their imprisonment remain unknown.

 

 

 

 

Jelil Turdi (Zhalil Turdi)

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Artush, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Trader

Date of capture: End of April 2000

Place of capture: Kyrgyzstan

Country of deportation: Kyrgyzstan

Current Status: Unknown (likely in detention)

Details of Disappearance: First detained by Kyrgyz police in early March 2000, reportedly for having an illegal residence permit, then released a few days later. He was then re-arrested a few weeks later. Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan told authorities his Chinese documents were false and was returned to China in late April. He was charged on alleged “separatist” activities for alleged involvement in a nationalist opposition group. He has not been seen since.

 

 

 

 

Rizwangul Tursun

Age at time of disappearance: 18

Place of birth: Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 18 April 2014

Place of capture: Vietnam’s Bac Phong Sinh border crossing

Country of deportation: Vietnam

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Rizwangul Tursun, now 21, was part of a group of 16 Chinese citizens, including four women and two children, sent back on April 18, 2014, following their arrest at Vietnam’s Bac Phong Sinh border crossing for trying to enter the country illegally. She had been trying to join her father in exile in Turkey when she was captured. Her family has received no information about her whereabouts since her deportation.

 

 

 

Golamjan Yasin, Tilivaldi, Ablikim Turahun as & 4 others 

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: Ghulja, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China

Profession: Unknown

Date of capture: 2002

Place of capture: Pakistan

Country of deportation: Pakistan

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and forcibly returned, but information is lacking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akbar Sadik, Mamutjan Kerim, Gheni Ayup, Yahya Kadir, Habibulla Yasin, Turghun Abla, Mamut Sadir, Muhabbat Yasin, Aygul Tursun, Iminjan Ismail, Askar Awut, Tursun Tiliwaldi, Abdureshit Rozi, Kawser Aziz, Senewer Ablikim, Hekim Yasin, Abulla Nurmemet

Age at time of disappearance: N/A

Place of birth: N/A

Profession: N/A

Date of capture: 18 January 2010

Place of capture: Myanmar

Country of deportation: Myanmar

Current Status: Unknown

Details of Disappearance: Seventeen Uyghurs, together with one Chinese man, were deported on 18 January 2010 from Burma after being accused of being involved in “criminal activities.” The full list of names once appeared on the website, Sina.com, but have since disappeared. They were reportedly charged with “involvement in criminal activities.”

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Ilham Tohti

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Introduction

Ilham Tohti served as a professor of economics at the Minzu University of China (formerly the Central University for Nationalities) in Beijing where he specialized in research focused on Uyghur-Han Relations, China’s ethnic policies and Xinjiang. Alongside his scholarship and teaching, Tohti is revered for establishing and maintaining Uyghur Online, a website dedicated to promoting Uyghur human rights and improved relations between Uyghur and Han Chinese people. Mr. Tohti has been recognized by the international community for his staunch opposition to violence, and continued support for Uyghur-Han dialogue, understanding and peace. In 2014, he was awarded the honorable PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award for his unwavering commitment to free expression in China. On October 11, 2016, Tohti was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Arrest & Detention

Following a raid on his home in Beijing, Professor Tohti was arrested on January 15th, 2014, for what Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister stated, “committing crimes and violating the law”. Tohti was also accused of “spreading separatist ideas”, “inciting ethnic hatred” and “advocat[ing] Xinjiang independence” by the Urumqi Bureau of Public Safety shortly thereafter.

More than two dozen police officers reportedly took part in the raid and seized computers and cellphones from the home and arresting his mother in the process. With no initial notice from Chinese authorities, he was then moved to be held in Urumqi where he has remained since.

The entire ordeal involving Mr. Tohti has been marred by irregularities and the outright perversion of any fair legal process. Beginning with his questionable arrest in January, denial of family visits or access to legal counsel, denial of adequate food and water and the total disregard for internationally accepted legal rights, the case is a textbook example of how a corrupt legal system is able bend and distort due process for state purposes. Mr. Tohti was unable to meet with his lawyer for six months following his arrest with one of his lawyers being forced to quit the case following political pressure.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), in an opinion adopted between April 22 and May 1, found that, “The deprivation of Mr. Tohti is arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and urged the government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, which include the immediate release of Mr. Tohti and to grant him compensation for the harm he has suffered during the period of his arbitrary detention”.

Trial

52f02f0a-cc2a-4c5f-859d-35d7a97d3dc0-1020x612Professor Tohti was convicted on September 23 to life in prison at the Urumqi People’s Intermediate Court after just a two day trial for advocating separatism. Mr. Tohti’s personal assets were also ordered to be seized by the government as a further punitive measure.

Amnesty International called the sentence “deplorable” with “no basis in reality” with Human Rights Watch stating that his trial has been a “travesty of justice”. The PEN American Center called Tohti’s trial “a farce” and that “[he] should have been a welcome ally in China’s efforts to build a harmonious society”.

Both the US and UK foreign ministries as well as the European Union also weighed in on the decision. A spokesperson from the UK’s foreign office stated that, “Without any transparency, it is hard to have confidence that proper judicial standards were upheld”, which was echoed in a statement made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arguing that “this appears to be retribution for Professor Tohti’s peaceful efforts to promote human rights for China’s ethnic Uyghur citizens”. Such support signals that there is widespread consensus regarding the inadequate handling of the case. The EU called the sentence “completely unjustified” and deplored that “the due process of law was not respected, in particular with regard to the right to a proper defence”.

Significance of the Sentence

Mr. Tohti’s case has been of great significance and has been given a great deal of attention because of his profile and status in China. This case sends strong signals to the rest of the Uyghur population in that it acts as it sets a kind of precedent in relation to similar cases. In other words, China’s sentencing of Tohti to life in prison demonstrates its total intolerance to all, even moderate, forms of dissent. In addition, the ensuing repression of Uyghurs by the Chinese government, including repression of free cultural and religious expression, has pushed Uyghurs to the edge, significantly contributing to the radicalization in the region.

After Tohti’s sentencing, not only will Uyghurs be even more hesitant to criticize or stand up against the regime, but will self-servingly provide the state with a yardstick by which all other cases will be judged. It has been clear that such a chilling effect has been the aim of the state throughout the trial.

Keeping in mind the fact that Mr. Tohti is widely considered a moderate voice in his criticism of the state and has never advocated for independence, this has not prevented the Chinese from pinning separatist charges on him. The Uyghur scholar has consistently acted within the bounds of existing Chinese law. International human rights organizations have supported his innocence throughout and state that his detention has been part of a broader strategy to forcefully suppress Uyghur dissent or even discussion of the ongoing discrimination faced on a daily basis.

Since His Sentence

Directly following the sentence, hundreds rallied in New York in support of Professor Tohti on 23 September 2016, at a public candlelight vigil. The PEN American Centre, an organization determined to ensure that people around the world have “the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, ideas and literatures others”, lead the rally. PEN’s Director of Freedom of Expression, Dominic Moran, argued, “Tohti is exactly the kind of influential moderate the Chinese government should have courted in their professed efforts to build social harmony”.

Tohti was officially nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on 15 September 2016 following tireless work from ChinaChange and the Ilham Tohti Initiative, among others. He was nominated by MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, a Bulgarian member of the ALDE group, and 42 other MEPs. Kyuchyuk called Tohti a “free thinker who believes in human rights, the rule of law,peaceful coexistence among ethnic groups and a democratic future for China”.

Tohti was also nominated for the 2016 Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders alongside Syrian human rights lawyer and activist, Razan Zaitouneh, and the Zone 9 bloggers in Ethiopia, on April 27th. The award stands to recognize those who “who have shown deep commitment and courage in the face of personal risk” and to “highlight their work and protect them through increased visibility”.

Prepared Statement by Professor Tohti

Below is an abridged version of a statement that Professor Tohti had written to be released in the event of his incarceration (originally released by Radio Free Asia):

“There is a lot of tension around here. In the past few days, I have been under constant surveillance by police vehicles and national security police officers. I have been under heavy supervision.

Furthermore, anyone I have interacted with recently, regardless of ethnicity, Uyghur or Han Chinese, has had to suffer through interrogations by the government. I have realized that I don’t have too many good days ahead of me and I have a feeling that they [the Chinese government] may not have the best intentions in dealing with my situation. Therefore, I feel that it is necessary for me to leave a few words behind before I no longer have the ability to do so.

Medical examination

Firstly, I would like to emphasize that currently, there are no physical marks or bruises on my body. About two months ago, the school [Central University for Nationalities] performed physical examinations on all the teachers, including myself. The results of my physical examinations have been recorded on their computers and were sent to all major hospitals in Beijing. They should be available in their archives. I am currently very healthy and do not have any illnesses.

The last time I fell ill was after I was beaten by a few national security officers at the airport on February 2, 2013.

The police officers punched my heart at the time, and after the incident I had chest pains whenever I felt tired. However, I no longer feel the chest pains and I am in perfectly healthy condition.

If I do pass away in the near future, know that it is not because of natural illness and it certainly will not be suicide. I am a Uyghur, a father, and a righteous man. I do not commend suicide and neither does the Uyghur culture. Therefore it is impossible that I will ever commit suicide. This is my first point.

Lawyer

Secondly, I do not want an appointed lawyer and I will never accept an appointed lawyer under any circumstances. I have my own lawyer who [the Tibetan writer Tsering] Woeser knows. Other people are aware of this as well.

False confession

Thirdly, I will never say anything that is against my morals and principles, nor will I ever say anything that may harm my people [Uyghurs]. If I say anything that deviates from my morals after my arrest, know that those are not my words. Any word that is at conflict with my morals or brings harm to the Uyghur people would most likely have been fabricated by the Chinese government.

The only possibility of myself uttering such words would be due to drugs or other substances intended to coerce a false confession. Regardless of the interrogation strategy or the torture method, regardless of what body parts I am about to lose, know that I will never speak words that will work against the interest of Uyghurs, nor will I ever betray the Uyghurs. The only way I may utter such words is under abnormal circumstances. When I say abnormal, I am referring to an abnormal state of mind, perhaps influenced by drugs.

Peaceful path

My fourth point is that I have never associated myself with a terrorist organization or a foreign-based group. The path I have pursued all along is an honorable and a peaceful path. I have relied only on pen and paper to diplomatically request the human rights, legal rights, and autonomous regional rights for the Uyghurs.

I have relentlessly appealed for equality for Uyghurs in regards to their individuality, religion, and culture. I have persistently demanded justice from the Chinese government. However, I have never pursued a violent route and I have never joined a group that utilized violence.

I have never started an organization, but I have attracted a number of friends and supporters, both Uyghur and Han Chinese, who share my vision. It would be absolutely unreasonable of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government to use this fact against me. The only things I have ever wanted and requested are human rights, legal rights, autonomous regional rights, and equality. Uyghurs should be able to receive the same respect given to the Chinese and they should also have the ability to preserve their dignity. This is my fourth point.

I will never view myself as a criminal, and I feel that it is necessary for me to make these points.

Security

Many of my friends have been arrested lately. The number of police officers around me has been gradually increased. They have been watching me even on school campus. I have never been surrounded by this many police officers, even around the July 5th incident in 2009.

Since July of this year [2013], I have not been able to communicate as much with journalists and reporters abroad. Since the website (Uyghurbiz.net) attracts a lot of visitors and activities, the Chinese government is not pleased with it either. I am almost certain that their intentions are corrupt this time, but I would like to say that mine are not. I have always led by example through advocating for diplomatic and peaceful ways to request justice and equality. I believe that Beijing is the ideal place for education, and I believe that this city is a key to achieving equality and justice.

Without the understanding and support of all of the 1.3 billion people in China, it would be extremely difficult for us to achieve our human rights goals. One of my foremost objectives so far has been to introduce and explain who we really are to the Han Chinese population, and this is how I have gained so many friends and supporters who are Han Chinese.

I have never spoken like this before, but I am almost confident that the Chinese government is trying to get rid of me this time.

Xinjiang government

I remember that three years ago I had refused to comment about my opinions on Zhang Chunxian [the ruling Chinese Communist Party secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region]. However, I have expressed my thoughts and opinions about him recently through my writings, lectures, and letters I have written. I am certain that Zhang Chunxian wasn’t very happy about what I had to say. I have recently received “communications,” and I must say that I don’t feel very safe at the moment. Please save this conversation from today and be sure to keep it until you need to release it, when it is necessary.”

Ilham Tohti’s Sakharov Prize Candidacy

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[Excerpted from ChinaChange]

Ilham Tohti (伊力哈木), a Uighur scholar known for his incisive writings on China’s policies in Xinjiang, was named by the European Parliament to be one of the five nominees for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on September 15. Ilham has for years been a vocal advocate for the economic, cultural, and religious rights of Uighurs in Xinjiang. His role as a rational voice for Uighur autonomy led to his arrest in January, 2014, and a sentence to life imprisonment in September that year.

Incidentally, on the same day that Ilham won the nomination, Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was received by the European Parliament where he spoke of his admiration for “the spirit of the European Union” and the need for different ethnicities and religions to exist together harmoniously in China.

In an interview from Beijing with Radio Free Asia on September 15, the renowned Chinese dissident Hu Jia (胡佳) remarked: “As both an ordinary Chinese citizen and the 2008 Sakharov Prize recipient, I feel that if one person in all of China deserved the Sakharov nomination and was qualified to receive the award, Ilham Tohti would be first on the list.”

“Ilham is a thorn in the side of the Communist Party,” he added. “He’s the conscience of the Uighurs, and has been given the most severe sentence. The people he represents have been repressed and spurned, so there’s a lot of pent-up hostility and bad blood. But the key to relieving this pressure is Ilham’s freedom. He was nominated for this award by members of a parliament elected by the people to represent Europe’s values, so it has a special place, and the Chinese authorities know the weight of it. They know that for whoever gets this prize, it will give both that person and the human rights issue they represent a lot of attention. This would put enormous pressure on the Chinese government. So there’s no doubt that they’re going to exert pressure on members of the European Parliament.”

Hu Jia said that Ilham Tohti’s wife and child just returned from Xinjiang to Beijing, but that they’ve been warned and intimidated by the authorities not to speak to anyone about Ilham.

Ilham Tohti’s daughter Jewher told China Change in an interview that her step-mother, Ilham’s wife Guzelnur, took the couple’s two children back to Xinjiang for their summer vacation, and that they visited him on one occasion, speaking face-to-face for about an hour. They were only allowed to speak about family affairs. She didn’t speak further about the circumstances of the meeting, but said that Ilham seemed to be healthy.

Ilham’s Sakharov nomination has Hu Jia feeling both glad and anxious. It so happened that, on another occasion recently he recounted how, in 2008 while in prison, the Communist Party authorities tried to force him to reject the prize:

In 2008, I was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” because I engaged in activities to promote human rights and liberty before the Olympic Games.

The European Parliament awarded me the Sakharov Prize, and I was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When I was in prison, the head of the Beijing municipal political police led a group of public security and foreign ministry officials to pay a visit to me in prison — they were putting me under intense pressure, trying to force me to make a public announcement that I rejected both the Sakharov Prize and the nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

In exchange, these officials said that they would reduce my sentence by 2.5 years, and also pay me double the cash award of the Sakharov Prize, as economic “compensation.” These secret political police, and the jailers in their charge, lobbied me with this proposal on up to seven occasions. I flatly rejected all of these despicable, filthy political dealings. Thus, I am deeply aware of how moral support, and awards from the international community, place the Communist Party’s security organs and foreign affairs officials under enormous pressure.

Hu suspects that Ilham will receive the same treatment if he’s also given the award—though he suspects that the Communist Party will first attempt to interfere with the process of deciding the laureate in the coming weeks.

Hu Jia told RFA that Ilham “opposes all forms of violence and bloodshed. If he’s awarded the Sakharov Prize, then his ideas, what he advocates, what he has attempted to realize, his wish that we’re all able to live with dignity as part of a big family, will be recognized by the entire world. The Xinjiang question will be looked at squarely by the world, as well as the question of the Uyghurs.”

Hu Jia added that not only Han Chinese like himself support the nomination, but Tibetans, including the well-known writer Woeser (唯色), are also behind it.

Elliot Sperling, a professor of Central Eurasian Studies at the Indiana University Bloomington, told Radio Free Asia: “China’s human rights situation is getting worse and worse, and the Party’s ethnic policies in Tibet and Xinjiang are being resisted by the people. The Communist Party doesn’t want to reflect on why its policies have been unsuccessful—instead, they look for scapegoats. Ilham Tohti is a scapegoat. The fact that he has received the nomination shows that the world is not going to be blind to this.”

James Leibold, a professor of China’s minority policies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, used Twitter to encourage the European Parliament to give Ilham Tohti the prize. “No more worthy recipient of the Sakharov Prize than Ilham Tohti. It’s time for MEPs to resist pressure from China,” he wrote.

In March 2015, Hu Jia met Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, for half an hour, during which time he brought up Ilham’s case, as well as his support for his receipt of the Sakharov Prize. Similarly, in July of this year in Beijing, he gave a letter to Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to be delivered to the European Council’s president Donald Tusk, who was participating in a summit meeting in the Chinese capital.

The letter said, in part: “If I were to meet you and meet your for only one minute, I would use those 60 seconds to tell you about one Chinese citizen: Ilham Tohti.”

Perhaps as a result of the absence of sustained international attention, Ilham’s family in China continues to suffer persecution. Jewher Ilham told China Change that Ilham’s niece, a young nurse in Kashgar, was taken away by police earlier in the year after her cell phone was checked by police when she was at a mall buying clothes (Uighurs say it’s now become common for the police to simply stop them in the street and forcibly examine their phones). The police detained her after seeing photos of her uncle, Ilham Tohti, on the phone, and possibly also because of her refusal to cooperate with them, Jewher speculated. She said that she hopes that someone will raise the case of her cousin to the Chinese government.

Statements from International NGOs & Others

Amnesty International:

China: Deplorable life sentence for Uighur academic — 24 September 2014

Hundreds of academics urge China’s President to free Professor Ilham Tohti — 15 January 2016

Freedom House:

Life Imprisonment of Tohti Undermines Chinese Legal System — 12 February 2016

Uighur academic Ilham Tohti held incommunicado, name censored online — 30 September 2016

Human Rights Watch:

China: Baseless Charge Against Uighur Scholar — 30 July 2014

Timeline of Ilham Tohti’s Case — 15 September 2014

China: Uighur Scholar’s Trial a Travesty of Justice — 15 September 2014

China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti — 20 September 2016

PEN International:

China: Uyghur PEN member, writer and academic Ilham Tohti detained; fears for safety — 31 September 2014

China: Uyghur PEN member, writer and academic Ilham Tohti formally charged with ‘splittism’ — 27 February 2014

Pen Condemns Indictment of Ilham Tohti on Charges of Separatism — 30 July 2014

China: Life sentence for Uyghur PEN member Ilham Tohti is further stain on China’s abysmal freedom of expression record — 23 September 2014

Reporters Without Borders:

Uyghur citizen-journalist Ilham Tohti detained again — 17 January 2014

Where has Ilham Tohti been held since 15 January? — 29 January 2014

Blogger sentenced to life in prison — 23 September 2014

Scholars at Risk:

Letter to Xi Jinping regarding Ilham Tohti’s Detention   15 April 2014

Statements by Governments & Other Institutions

European Parliament member, Edward McMillan-Scott, makes statement regarding Uyghurs and China’s relationship with the EU — 26 September 2014

US Commission on International Religious Freedom condemns harsh sentence of Tohti — 25 September 2014

EU makes a condemnatory statement — 23 September 2014

US Department of State condemns the conviction and sentencing of Ilham Tohti — 23 September 2014

German Home Office publishes a statement by German Human Rights Commissioner, Christoph Strässer, condemning the sentence of Ilham Tohti — 23 September 2014

The White House Press Office made a statement concerning his sentencing — 23 September 2014

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (at its 69th session) renders Tohti’s detention as arbitrary — 14 July 2014

Tohti’s daughter testifies before Congress regarding the fate of her father — 14 April 2014

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