WUC Condemns Sentences Handed Down to 20 Uyghurs

Press Release – For immediate release

28 March 2013
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or contact@uyghurcongress.org

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly condemns the sentencing of 20 Uyghurs from between 5 years and life on charges of separatism and terrorism by the local courts in Kashgar and Bayingolin Prefectures and calls upon the international community and democratic countries around the world to urge the Chinese government to free the Uyghur political prisoners, to take stock of the current political conditions of East Turkestan, and demonstrate resoluteness for the protection of freedoms and liberties for the Uyghur people.

The fact that 20 Uyghur men were accused of using the Internet, mobile phones and digital storage devices to organise, lead and participate in a terrorist organisation with the intent to incite splittism, demonstrate how weak and poorly defined the concept of “terrorism” is within China’s Criminal Laws. According to the Chinese government media outlet, Tianshan Net, to access some Youtube videos and news websites were recorded as the main source of indictment.

The indictments and sentences for these 20 Uyghur men is an exhibition of the daily repressions of the basic freedoms and liberties in the People’s Republic of China. Recently this month, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported an increase in detention of minority journalists in the PRC, adding further evidence to the lack of freedom of expression and alternative opinions being exercised by the peoples in the PRC. The use of the word `terrorism` to define and describe the crimes of these 20 Uyghur men show that the “war on terror” is still being utilised by the Chinese government repress the Uyghur political and cultural voices in East Turkestan.

During the spread of democratisation waves in the Middle East and increasing calls of reform to the new leadership in China, the sentences represent a challenge for the democratic world and those who seek the protection of human rights. More importantly, increasing degree of censorship and limitations on the internet use and the freedom of press demonstrate that the expected evolution of the Chinese political system towards liberalisation and opening with economic developments will not happen through the current political structure.

After the sentences, the WUC leadership expressed its disappointment with the new Chinese leadership. WUC President Ms Rebiya Kadeer stated that, “With the sentences of 20 Uyghur men with separatism and terrorism, China’s new leadership showed its indifference for human rights and democracy, thus demonstrating that it is going to continue with the “strike hard” practises of the previous regimes. It further indicates that the Chinese government will not contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the region in the near future, preferring instead to continue its counterproductive and destructive practises.”

Rebiya Kadeer also stated that “The Chinese government has undertaken an intensified campaign of intimidation against the Uyghur people since unrest in Urumchi July 2009. The successive announcements of harsh sentencing of Uyghurs show no sign of relenting. The Chinese government has become so emboldened as to sentence Uyghurs to death on Human Rights Day, which is a commemoration of international standards of behaviour. By terrorizing the Uyghur population through so-called legal means, the Chinese government is merely sowing the seeds of further hatred between peoples in East Turkestan that will only lead to more instability and tension in east Turkestan and the region.”

The five cases reported by Tianshan on March 26, 2013 detailed the following crimes and sentences given to these Uyghur men:

  • Kadirjan Omer sentenced to life on charges of organising and leading a terrorist group; Memtimin Bekri sentenced to life imprisonment for organising a terrorist group; Yasinjan Semet sentenced to 15 years for organising a terrorist group; Tohti Baki, Iminjan Memettursun, Emetjan Abliz, Alim Baki and Kerim Ghopur sentenced to between five years to ten years for participating in a terrorist group.

  • Rozi Barat sentenced to life on charges of organising and leading a terrorist group, as well as disorderly conduct; Abdukerim Abliz sentenced to life for the crime of organizing and leading a terrorist group, as well as disorderly conduct; Yusuf Emet Rozi Niyaz, Nurmemet Rahman and Turghunjan Tursun sentenced to 12 years to 14 years for participating in a terrorist group and disorderly conduct.

  • Memet Ehmet sentenced to 15 years on charges organising and leading a terrorist group; Ehmetjan Ehet sentenced to 13 years for organising and leading a terrorist group and also illegally crossing the border; Mehmut Tursun sentenced to 10 years for participating in a terrorist group and illegally crossing the border.

  • Mehmut Abliz sentenced to 15 years on charges of organising and leading a terrorist group; Abdukerim Ghopur sentenced to 10 years for participating in a terrorist organization; Yasin Tursun sentenced to 9 years for participating in a terrorist organisation.

  • Kerim Memet sentenced to 10 years for splittism and undermining national unity by creating an online chartroom to spread ethnic separatism, violent terrorism and religious extremism.