Sentenced in July 2010 to 7 years of prison; charges unknown.
According to Radio Free Asia (6 March 11), public security officials in Aksu district, East Turkestan, detained Tursunjan Hezim, a Uyghur man who administered the Uyghur Web site Orkhun, in early July 2009, after demonstrations and riots occurred in Xinjiang starting on July 5. His whereabouts were unknown until March 2011. The Aksu Intermediate People’s Court reportedly held a closed trial and sentenced Tursunjan Hezim in July 2010 to seven years’ imprisonment. Information on the precise date of the sentence and the charges against him is not available. A source familiar with the case said authorities told Tursunjan Hezim’s family about the sentence but did not inform them of the charges.
His website Orkhun focused on Uyghur history and culture and was among several sites that had Bulletin Board Services temporarily shut down during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and that were closed down after the July 2009 events. The website, named after the homeland of ethnic Uyghurs’ Turkic ancestors, had published mostly scholarly articles about Uyghur culture and history. Aside from his research activities, Hezim also participated in online discussions on Uyghur websites such as Uyghur Online and Bostan under the pen name Yawuz.
Amnesty International condemned this sentence, saying that “[t]his trial is typical of the way the Chinese government has worked in secrecy to persecute Uighurs in China for peaceful expression of their views. If Hezim faces recognizably criminal charges, the Chinese government should put him on trial with due process. Otherwise, he should be released immediately.”
Information is not available on the location where he is serving his sentence. His whereabouts in late 2015 were unknown, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
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
Amnesty International “Chinese crackdown on Uighur writers continues as web editor jailed” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/chinese-crackdown-uighur-writers-continues-web-editor-jailed-2011-03-07), 7 March 2011
U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Entry for “Tursunjan Hezim” in Political Prisoner Database (CECC Record Number: 2011-00234), available at: http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=8728
Radio Free Asia (RFA), Uyghur Historian Given 7 Years, 6 March 2011, available at: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/tursunjanhezim-03062011164000.html
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Uighur website editor sentenced in secret in China, 10 March 2011, available at: http://www.cpj.org/2011/03/uighur-website-editor-sentenced-in-secret-in-china.php
UNHCR, 2015 Prison Census – China: Tursunjan Hezim, 14 December 2015, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/56701fa015.html
[Last updated: October 2019]