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Abdusemet Qarihaji

Abdusemet Qarihaji

Sentence: Imprisoned since 25 May 2016 for 20 years

Abdusemet Qarihaji (Chinese: Abudusaimaiti Kere’aji), born in 1926 in Yurchi Township of Kelpin County, is a respected Uyghur religious cleric and teacher from Kelpin County who was arrested on May 10th 2016 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by the Aksu Prefectural People’s Intermediate Court on May 25th with conducting “illegal religious activities”.[i]

The Aksu Prefectural People’s Intermediate Court specifically charged him with teaching the Koran to children 20 years ago. Other than a 70 year old cousin of Qarihaji, no other family members or legal representatives were allowed to attend the trial and sentencing. Tash Tomurweli, one of the sons of Qarihaji who currently resides in Turkey, told the WUC that his father’s health is very poor. Even before Abdusemet Qarihaji was jailed, he was blind in one eye and has now almost lost sight in the other.

Qarihaji dedicated his life to studying and teaching Islam – a practice that is now either impossible without incredibly strict oversight from the state, or has become illegal outright.


[i] Radio Free Asia: Uyghur Religious Leader Jailed, Radio Free Asia, 27 May 2016, Available at:

[last updated: October 2019]