Gheyret Niyaz

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

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

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

The conviction was reportedly based on an 2 August 2009, interview with Niyaz published in the Hong Kong news weekly Yazhou Zhoukan in which Niyaz discussed his efforts to alert the authorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) about the possibility of trouble the day before the outbreak of the violent ethnic conflict in Urumqi on 5 July 2009. In the interview, Niyaz said that the authorities took no action to prevent the outbreak, despite Niyaz’s repeated warnings.

Until June 2009, Gheyret Niyaz had worked as an editor and manager for the Web site uyghurbiz.net, which later came under official scrutiny as authorities accused the site of contributing to incitement of rioting in July 2009. Niyaz speaks and writes mainly in Chinese, and is widely regarded as a moderate voice who advocates greater understanding between the Han and Uyghur people. Niyaz has worked at two state-controlled publications, as a former director of Xinjiang Legal Daily and a journalist at the Xinjiang Economic Daily.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Amnesty International, Human Rights in China, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists all issued statements expressing concern about Niyaz’s imprisonment.

He was last known to be held at the Urumqi PSB detention center. His current location is not known.

Sources:

Amnesty International (AI) Urgent Action, China: Uighur journalist detained, risks torture, ASA 17/060/2009, 30 October 2009, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/060/2009/en

Amnesty International (AI), China holds Uighur journalist over Xinjiang unrest remarks, 30 October 2009, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/china-holds-uighur-journalist-over-xinjiang-unrest-remarks-20091030

Amnesty International (AI), China sentences Uighur journalist to 15-year prison term, 23 July 2010, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/china-sentences-uighur-journalist-15-year-prison-term-2010-07-23

BBC, Chinese court ‘jails Uighur journalist’, 23 July 2010, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10744133

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Respect Freedom of Expression, Release Xinjiang Journalist Hailaite Niyazi, 30 July 2010, available at: http://chrdnet.org/2010/07/30/a-public-letter-by-chinese-citizens-urging-the-release-of-uyghur-journalist-hailaite-niyazi/

Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), China sentences Uighur journalist to 15 years, 26 July 2010, available at: https://www.cpj.org/2010/07/china-sentences-uighur-journalist-to-15-years.php

Dui Hua Foundation‘s summer 2010 Dialogue Newsletter, Official Responses to Uyghur Prisoner List

Reveal Information on Unique Cases, available at: http://www.duihua.org/work/publications/nl/dialogue/nl_txt/nl40/nl40_3a.htm

Freedom House, Journalist’s Sentencing Signals Continued Suppression of Uighurs, 26 July 2010, available at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=1214

Human Rights in China (HRIC), Heavy Prison Term for Uyghur Advocate of Inter-ethnic Understanding, 23 July 2010, available at: http://www.hrichina.org/content/832

Reporters without Borders, Jail terms for three Uyghur webmasters accused of jeopardising state security, 2 August 2010, available at: http://en.rsf.org/china-uyghur-journalist-and-website-24-07-2010,38016.html

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Gheyret Niyaz” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number: 2009-00448), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=7643

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Xinjiang Court Imposes Prison Sentences on Uyghur Journalist and Webmasters, 7 August 2010, available at: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=144798

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Journalist Gets 15 Years, 22 July 2010, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/trial-07222010152945.html

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Fate of Uyghur Journalist ‘Unknown’, 1 November 2010, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/journalist-11012010101314.html

Uyghur American Association (UAA) Press release, Uyghur journalist and webmaster Gheyret Niyaz sentenced to 15 years, 23 July 2010, available at: http://uhrp.org/articles/4022/1/Uyghur-journalist-and-webmaster-Gheyret-Niyaz-sentenced-to-15-years-/index.html

Uyghur American Association (UAA) Press release, Uyghur American Association commends Chinese intellectuals and human rights groups for their appeals on behalf of Uyghur journalist and blogger Gheyret Niyaz, 30 July 2010, available at: http://www.uyghuramerican.org/articles/4874/1/Uyghur-American-Association-commends-Chinese-intellectuals-and-human-rights-groups-for-their-appeals-on-behalf-of-Uyghur-journalist-and-blogger-Gheyret-Niyaz/index.html

Uyghur American Association (UAA) Press release, Internet reopened in East Turkestan, but Uyghur webmasters and bloggers remain behind bars, 14 May 2010, available at:  http://www.uhrp.org/articles/3782/1/Internet-reopened-in-East-Turkestan-but-Uyghur-webmasters-and-bloggers-remain-behind-bars-/index.html

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

[Last updated: August 2011]