Gheyret Niyaz

Sentenced in July 2010 to 15 years of prison for “Endangering State Security (ESS)”

Gheyret Niyaz (Hailaiti Niyazi), born in 1959, a Uyghur journalist in Urumqi, was taken from his home on October 1st, 2009. His family was told by the police on October 4 that he was under suspicion for endangering state security and that he had been detained because he had “given too many media interviews”.

On July 23, 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him in a one-day trial to 15 years’ imprisonment for endangering state security (ESS). He was denied legal representation of his choosing and due process, and his trial was conducted against a background of intense politicization. Niyaz worked as a senior reporter for the Xinjiang Economic Daily and as editor and manager for Uighurbiz. The conviction was reportedly based on an August 2, 2009 interview with Niyaz published in the Hong Kong news weekly Yazhou Zhoukan in which Niyaz discussed his efforts to alert the authorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) about the possibility of trouble the day before the outbreak of the violent ethnic conflict in Urumqi on July 5, 2009. In the interview, Niyaz said that the authorities took no action to prevent the outbreak, despite Niyaz’s repeated warnings.

Niyaz speaks and writes mainly in Chinese, and is widely regarded as a moderate voice who advocates for greater understanding between the Han and Uyghur peoples. Niyaz has worked at two state-controlled publications, as a former director of Xinjiang Legal Daily and a journalist at the Xinjiang Economic Daily.

Amnesty International, Human Rights in China, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists all issued statements expressing concern about Niyaz’s imprisonment.

He was last known to be held at the Urumqi PSB detention center. His current location is not known.

Sources:

Amnesty International (AI) Urgent Action, China: Uighur journalist detained, risks torture, ASA 17/060/2009, 30 October 2009, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/060/2009/en

BBC, Chinese court ‘jails Uighur journalist’, 23 July 2010, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10744133

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, A Public Letter by Chinese Citizens Urging the Release of Uyghur Journalist Hailaite Niyazi, 30 July 2010, available at: http://chrdnet.org/2010/07/30/a-public-letter-by-chinese-citizens-urging-the-release-of-uyghur-journalist-hailaite-niyazi/

Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), China sentences Uighur journalist to 15 years, 26 July 2010, available at: https://www.cpj.org/2010/07/china-sentences-uighur-journalist-to-15-years.php

Freedom House, Journalist’s Sentencing Signals Continued Suppression of Uighurs, 26 July 2010, available at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=1214

Human Rights in China (HRIC), Heavy Prison Term for Uyghur Advocate of Inter-ethnic Understanding, 23 July 2010, available at: http://www.hrichina.org/content/832

Reporters without Borders, Jail terms for three Uyghur webmasters accused of jeopardising state security, 2 August 2010, available at: http://en.rsf.org/china-uyghur-journalist-and-website-24-07-2010,38016.html

U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Xinjiang Court Imposes Prison Sentences on Uyghur Journalist and Webmasters, 7 August 2010, available at: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=144798

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Journalist Gets 15 Years, 22 July 2010, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/trial-07222010152945.html

Radio Free Asia (RFA), Fate of Uyghur Journalist ‘Unknown’, 1 November 2010, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/journalist-11012010101314.html

Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), Gheyrat Niyaz, 4 December 2015, available at: https://uhrp.org/political-prisoners-2015/gheyret-niyaz

World Uyghur Congress (WUC) Press Release, WUC Condemns 15-year Sentence Handed Down to Uyghur Journalist and Website Editor Gheyret Niyaz, 24 July 2010, available at: http://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/?p=3468

[Last updated: October 2019]