PRESS RELEASE: WUC STRONGLY CONDEMNS LIFE SENTENCE OF WUC PRESIDENT’S BROTHER, HUSHTAR ISA
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly condemns the sentencing of the WUC President Dolkun Isa’s brother, Hushtar Isa. It was recently reported that he received a life imprisonment sentence, which was confirmed by Radio Free Asia (RFA) today.
Hushtar Isa graduated from Highway University in Xi’an in 1996. He worked in a restaurant for a while, and then worked as a teacher at a driving school in Aksu. In 2017, he was arrested and sent to one of the internment camps, where he spent two years for ‘’inciting terrorism’’. Since then, WUC President, Dolkun Isa has not heard of any news about his whereabouts, nor received any information about his well-being.
‘’I am truly heartbroken to hear this news. My brother is an innocent man. He was punished because of my activism and work as a human rights activist,’’ said WUC President Dolkun Isa. ‘’This is the third consecutive year that I have received such heartbreaking news, first learning that my mother died in a camp in 2019, and in 2020, I learned about my father’s death in a propaganda paper. And now in 2021, I learn about my brother’s life-sentence. The Chinese government is using hostage diplomacy in an attempt to silence me and Uyghurs abroad.’’
The Chinese government continues to use retaliatory actions to silence Uyghurs abroad who are vocal about the human rights abuses taking place in East Turkistan, and who are advocating for their missing or detained relatives. The formal judicial system in East Turkistan has sentenced over 250,000 individuals since the escalation of the ‘’Strike Hard Campaign’’ in 2016, with an imprisonment rate that has almost increased five-fold between 2016 and 2018, which is over five times higher than other regions in China. Uyghurs and Kazakhs are often imprisoned for vague offences of ‘’inciting terrorism’’ or ‘’inciting ethnic hatred’’.
In December 2020, the family of Dr. Gulshan Abbas, sister of Campaign For Uyghurs (CFU) Executive Director, Rushan Abbas, received news that Dr. Abbas had been sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Chinese regime on false charges of terrorist activities. Similarly, Ahmetjan Juma, the brother of the Deputy Director of RFA’s Uyghur Service, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for “religious extremism”. Both Dr. Abbas and Mr. Juma are highly respected in the Uyghur community, to which they have contributed greatly.
UN special procedures mandate-holders have reiterated on numerous occasions their deep concern at the lack of basic due process guarantees, including the absence of judicial oversight, the denial of basic procedural rights and the lack of concrete charges supported by sufficient and transparent evidence. The Chinese government refuses to inform the victims about the whereabouts of their relatives, even on the request of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
The WUC reiterates once again that the international community needs to condemn such practices, and hold China accountable for its severe violations of international law and principles. The WUC also urges the UN to publicly document, report and investigate the crimes perpetrated by the Chinese government.
The WUC expresses its sincere support to its President, Dolkun Isa, and his family, and stands in solidarity with him in the face of retaliatory actions by the Chinese government taken against his family members.