Weekly Brief November 3rd

World Uyghur Congress, 3 November 2017

Chinese Authorities Detain At Least 30 of Rebiya Kadeer’s Relatives

The President of the World Uyghur Congress and noted advocate for rights for the Uyghur people, Rebiya Kadeer, has had 11 of her immediate family members and 30 family members in total detained in East Turkestan by Chinese authorities in recent weeks. Ms. Kadeer can’t find any information about the well-being or whereabouts of her detained family members, but speculated that they were “sent to prison or the political re-education camps”.

The targeting of family members of Uyghur activists, journalists and even students who are living abroad is a grave violation of human rights and international law, yet it is a tactic regularly employed by Chinese authorities to silence its critics. The relatives of Rebiya Kadeer almost certainly did nothing wrong, yet find themselves wrongly imprisoned, just because who they are related to.

Chinese Official Defends Detention of Uyghur-Canadian Dissident

On a visit from a delegation of Chinese officials to Canada, Zuo Feng,  the Deputy Director-General of the State Council Information Office (the Chinese government’s propaganda arm) defended the Chinese government’s detention of Uyghur-Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil. Mr. Zuo called him a separatist and said he was being held in a ‘typical’ prison in East Turkestan for his 20 year prison sentence. Mr. Zou also defended the brutal crackdown on the Uyghur, claiming it was necessary to combat against extremism and admonished Canadian journalists for portraying China too negatively.

Huseyin Celil had fled China in the 1990s after being imprisoned for using a megaphone to broadcast calls to prayer. He had fled to Canada where he was granted political asylum and later became a Canadian citizen. He was detained in Uzbekistan while travelling on his Canadian passport and extradited to China where he was arrested on charges of ‘separatism’ and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. There has been no substantive evidence to back up the allegations and Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have stated that his trial unfair and have called for his immediate release.

Thousands of Uyghur ‘Political Criminals’ Imprisoned Without Trial In Kashgar

It was reported this week that thousands of Uyghurs were being detained in the Kashgar prefecture of East Turkestan, with many being sent to re-education camps, for having ‘extremist’ or ‘politically incorrect views’. Most were imprisoned without trial and their families were not notified of their arrest and detention until months later. As Chinese authorities try to stifle any dissent and erode Uyghur identity, their tactics are becoming increasingly repressive and demonstrate an outright disdain for rule of law and justice.

Nearly 20 Uyghur Students ‘Disappeared’ in Egypt

Of the 200 Uyghur students who were detained in Egypt in July 2017, 20 have disappeared in recent months. Relatives and loved ones have not been able establish any contact with these individuals and fear for their safety and well-being. There are serious concerns that they may have been deported to China, where they are at risk of torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.