Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz

Sentence: Sentenced in April 2010 to life imprisonment for crimes allegedly committed during the July 2009 incidents; died in detention in November 2011 following allegations of abuse and torture.

The Uyghur teenager named Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz (born on 16 January 1992) was detained on 27 July 2009 in Aksu because of his alleged participation in demonstrations in Urumqi on 5 July 2009. Police informed his family that he was suspected of attacking people with stones. According to Noor-Ul-Islam’s father Sherbaz Khan his son was detained after his image appeared on security cameras in downtown Urumqi on the night that Uyghurs demonstrated for an investigation into the deaths of two Uyghur migrants in southern China.

On 13 April 2010, after an unfair trial that lasted only 30 minutes, the Aksu Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to life imprisonment for crimes allegedly committed during the July 2009 incidents. His mother attended the trial, but was told about it only one day in advance. During his trial, he was represented by a lawyer appointed by the court. He later appealed his verdict, but information on the outcome is not available.

He was found guilty of “murder (or intentional homicide)” and “provoking an incident” under Criminal Law articles 232 and 293 respectively. According to Amnesty International (AI), the court was shown video footage of a group of Uyghurs beating a man. Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz was not present in the group beating the man in the video nor is he shown on the video carrying a stone. The video does, however, show him on the same street.

According to AI, his conviction appears to have been secured on the basis of a second video which was also shown to the Court. It was shot a couple of months later, in which Noor-Ul-Islam was taken by police officers to visit the alleged murder scene. On this video, he confesses to the killing. On 20 April 2010, AI expressed concern that this confession had been extracted under torture and denounced that Noor-Ul-Islam had been held incommunicado since his detention.

Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz was held for the first 8 months in Xishan (Shisen) Detention Centre in Urumqi, but was then transferred to a detention centre in Aksu in western East Turkestan, approximately 1000 km from Urumqi for the trial. People who were released from Shisen prison in 2009 have given accounts of dire conditions in the prison, including the deaths of prisoners from cold, hunger and disease. Inmates are reported to be kept in their cells 24 hours a day.

According to a RFA report dated 6 December 2011, Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz died in detention in November 2011 allegdly due to abuse and torture by prison officials. A family friend with connections to the Urumqi jail where Noor-Ul-Islam was detained said that he had been regularly beaten with electric batons. The same person also confirmed that other inmates were also regularly beaten and that “they are given only two hardened steam buns with boiled water to eat each day and that their cells are cold and tiny, with 20-25 people put into spaces meant to hold 4-5.”

According to Noor-Ul-Islam´s father Sherbaz Khan, Chinese officials asked his wife to come to the jail on 13 November 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to visit her son. She was allowed to see him for 20-30 minutes. Later, the couple was informed that their son had died the same day at around 10:00 p.m. Khan was informed that Noor-Ul-Islam had died in the hospital and that they gave him a lethal injection. The Chinese authorities insisted to bury him themselves and refused to let anybody see his body. His parents were therefore not able to arrange a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death, but it is likely that Noor-Ul-Islam died due to alleged torture and ill-treatment in detention.

Sources:

Amnesty International (AI), China: Risk of torture for 17-year old in China, UA: 336/09 Index: ASA 17/071/2009, 15 December 2009, available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/071/2009/en/a1aea8ae-1fa9-4f48-97c0-35aeb89caa99/asa170712009en.html

Amnesty International (AI), Life sentence for 18-year-old, unfair trial, UA: 336/09 Index: ASA 17/017/2010, 20 April 2010, available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/017/2010/en/6b44267b-4ebf-41b4-9359-dd9e7b76efbc/asa170172010en.html

Amnesty International (AI), China: “Justice, justice”: The July 2009 protests in Xinjiang, July 2010, available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/027/2010/en/425679a8-6fde-40b5-a38b-83699e5ac1bc/asa170272010en.pdf

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 2009 Human Rights Report:  China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau, 11 March 2010, available at: www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Teenager Gets Life, 23 April 2010, available at: www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/uyghur-youth-04232010111100.html

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Youth Dies in Jail, 06 December 2011, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/jail-12062011110617.html

[last updated: December 2011]