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Abdukerim Abduweli

Abdukerim Abduweli

Sentence: Imprisoned since 17 November 1990

Abdukerim Abduweli, born in Aksu Prefecture in 1955, is a renowned Islamic scholar and Imam who was initially arrested on November 17th, 1990 on charges of “carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation” related to religious activities by the Urumqi city Intermediate People’s Court.

Abduweli completed his first sentence in 2002, but would be given four additional sentences while he remained in prison in 2002, 2005, 2010 and 2011. He then received four additional sentences later in 2002, 2005, 2010 and 2011. His last known sentence was in November 2011 for an additional three years, but little information has been released as to his current situation. Abduweli served the 5 consecutive sentences at Xinjiang No. 3 Prison, Urumqi.

China cites supposed dangers that Abduweli might stir public unrest as the ostensible reason for the deferment of his release. Along with four other Uyghurs, Abduweli was alleged to have formed the Islamic Reformist Party in October 1990, who were planning to hold the party’s first meeting in February 1991. Abduweli was subsequently convicted of “carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation” related to religious activities. The latter charge referred to his alleged advocacy of violence and efforts to spread Islam. Four other alleged organisers were detained in 1992.

Radio Free Asia reported on 28 August 2012 that Mr Abduweli had ended an approximately 270 day hunger strike in protest against his continued detention. Mr Abduweli’s mother, Meremnisa Abduweli, who visited him in November 2011, said that there were 4 or 5 prison officials present, which prevented any meaningful visit from taking place. Prior to his hunger strike, family members could only visit once or twice a year; since its commencement, prison officials summoned family members on four occasions to convince him to end the hunger strike.


Amnesty International, China: End Persecution of Detained Uighur Religious Leader after Prison term Increased for Fifth Time, 23 April 2014, available at:

Deutscher Bundestag, Schwere Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Xinjiang beenden, aufklären und ahnden, 7 November 2018, available at:

European Interest, Tibetans and Uyghurs to hold demonstration during EU-China Summit, 4 April 2019, available at:

European Union, The European Union and China held their Annual Human Rights Dialogue, 10 July 2018, available at:

Radio Free Asia, Prominent Uyghur Muslim Cleric Believed Dead After Nearly 30 Years in Xinjiang Prison, 14 December 2018, available at:

[last updated: October 2019]