WUC and UAA Demand China to Release Sitiwaldi (Dilkex) Tilivaldi

For Immediate Release
Contact: Alim A. Seytoff
World Uyghur Congress
Uyghur American Association
Phone: 202-321-2388
Friday, January 14, 2005

Washington – The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Uyghur American Association (UAA) strongly condemn China’s recent arrest of a Uyghur man for speaking to an American reporter and demand the Chinese authorities to release him immediately.

“We request the government of China to immediately release Sitiwaldi (Dilkex) Tilivaldi,” said Erkin Alptekin, President of WUC, “His arrest violates both Chinese and international laws.”

According to Serene Fang, a reporter for PBS Frontline/World, the Chinese national security agents arrested Tilivaldi for speaking to her in Urumchi on October 19, 2004. Fang said in “China Silenced”, a PBS program aired on January 11, 2005 in U.S. that she interviewed Tilivaldi as part of a program to uncover China’s repression of the Uyghur people in the past fifty years since Chinese army occupied this region. Fang asserted that Tilivaldi is neither a dissident nor a human rights activist. He simply came to tell her that Uyghur people want to speak freely.

“Talking to a reporter is not a crime, even in China,” said Nury Turkel,

President of UAA, “The Chinese authorities have no reason to hold or punish him for exercising his right to freedom of speech guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution.”

At this moment, it is not yet clear where China is holding Sitiwaldi (Dilkex) Tilivaldi and what China will do to him. Traditionally, China has punished Uyghurs who have failed to tip-toe the communist party line as public examples so as to deter others to follow their footsteps. China severely punishes those Uyghurs who dare to speak to foreign reporters or government officials because Beijing does not want outside world know how it is violating the fundamental human rights of the Uyghur people since 1949.

In 1999, China arrested prominent Uyghur businesswoman Rabiye Kadir for trying to meet with a member of a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Urumchi. Although Kadir didn’t even get a chance to meet with the member,

China sentenced her to eight years in prison in 2000 in order to make her a public example for the Uyghur people. At present, she is being incarcerated in one of the most notorious prisons in Urumchi.

With respect to Tilivaldi, China may punish him severely for talking to a foreign reporter in order to silence the entire Uyghur population. It is highly likely that China will use him to raise the risk and price of telling the truth about East Turkestan to the outside world, deterring foreign reporters from coming and investigating the real situation, and deterring Uyghurs from talking to them if they come. Therefore, WUC and UAA urge the U.S., UN, EU as well as the international human rights organizations to pressure China to release Sitiwaldi (Dilkex) Tilivaldi as early as possible.