The plight of Uyghur writers imprisoned in China
International PEN Uyghur Center | 13 Nov 2012 UYPPress/03
15th November is PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer. We - the Uyghur PEN Centre would like to add our voices to this special day by urging all International PEN Centres and other international human rights organizations to pay attention to the plight of the imprisoned Uyghur writers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, and condemn China’s escalating crackdown on Uyghur writers, journalists and webmasters.
We estimate that more than 400 Uyghur intellectuals, including writers, journalists, web masters, and bloggers are still in Chinese jails, arrested in the aftermath of the “5th July” 2009 ethnic conflict in Urumchi, regional capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. We are unable to confirm this estimate because of the Chinese government’s lack of transparency and accountability.
On this special Day The Uyghur PEN Centre will focus on the two Uyghur journalists Gheyret Niyaz and Gulmire Imin who are serving prison sentences.
On the PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we are particularly concerned about the whereabouts and safety of:
Gheyret Niyaz - a Uyghur journalist employed by the official Xinjiang Economic Daily, and former editor of the web site Uighur Online, taken from his home in Tianshan District, Tacheng Prefecture, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), on October 1, 2009. On July 23, 2010, a court in Urumqi sentenced Niyaz (also known as Hailaite Niyazi) to 15 years in prison for “endangering state security,” a charge based on an interview he gave to the Hong Kong-based publication Asia Weekly following the unrest that broke out in Urumqi in July 2009. He is currently being held in Changji Prison, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, XUAR.
Gulmire Imin - According to Amnesty International, authorities in Urumchi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region detained Gulmira Imin- a Uyghur Web site administrator and government employee on July 14, 2009. She had worked for the web site Salkin, which reportedly posted an announcement calling Uyghurs to demonstrate in Urumqi on July 5, 2009, and authorities alleged she was involved in organizing the demonstration. Gulmira Imin was sentenced to terms between 15 years and life imprisonment on April 1, 2010. Gulmira Imin is currently held in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi.
Due to China’s tight control of information in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, we are currently not able to obtain any information concerning their safety and whereabouts. We urge the authorities to ensure that no Uyghur writers are tortured or ill-treated in prison.
The International PEN Uyghur centre calls again on the international community to conduct an independent investigation of the Chinese authorities’ extra judiciary punishment of Uyghur writers and other Uyghurs connected to the “5th July” protest. Here are the names of the few convicted Uyghur writers that have been revealed by Chinese media: Gheyret Niyaz; Dilshat Perhat; Gulmire Imin; Memetjan Abdulla; Nijat Azat; Nureli Obul; Tursunjan Hezim.
We are alarmed by the continued persecution of Uyghur writers, journalists and webmasters/web editors who are particularly targeted by the Chinese authorities for practising their right to free expression. The authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China subject Uyghur journalists and writers to harassment, arbitrary detention and flawed trials for publishing anything related to current political concerns in the region, including Uyghur ethnic identity, beliefs, history, etc.
We are appalled at China’s extrajudicial punishment of Uyghur journalists and web editors. Overall, the crackdown on Uyghur intellectuals has intensified after the 2009 protests; the number of sentences handed down to Uyghur intellectuals convicted of so-called “separatism” is alarming.
We call on the Chinese authorities:
- to stop the ill treatment and torture of Uyghur writers, journalists and all other political prisoners in China’s jails.
- to stop targeting Uyghur intellectuals including writers, journalists and web editors.
Please send appeals to:
Chairman of the XUAR People's Government
Nur BEKRI Zhuxi
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu Bangongting
2 Zhongshanlu, Urumqi 830041
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 991 2817567 or 2803621
Salutation: Dear Chairman
Secretary of the Central Politics and Law Commission of People’s Republic of China
Zhou Yongkang Shuji
Zhongyang Zhengfa Weiyuanhui
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Dear Secretary
Minister of State Security of the People's Republic of China
GEN Huichang Buzhang
People's Republic of China
Salutation: Your Excellency
For more details about Uyghur imprisoned writers:
Congressional - Executive Commission On China Political Prisoner Database (PPD):
Gheyret Niyaz- http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=7643
Gulmira Imin- http://ppd.cecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=7948
The 77th PEN International Congress Resolutions: Resolution on China –Uyghur Issueshttp://www.uyghurpen.org/The_77th_PEN_International_Congress_Resolutios.pdf
State sponsored persecutions on Uyghur intellectualshttp://www.uyghurpen.org/pen-press-id17.html
Amnesty challenges China on Xinjiang riot accounts:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10491758
Amnesty International: 5 July 2009 Urumqi protests and crackdown - Two years later: the suppression of fundamental rights continues http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7820
China: "justice, justice": the july 2009 protests in xinjiang, china
“We are afraid to even look for them” - human rights watchhttp://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/xinjiang1009webwcover.pdf
International PEN Uyghur Centre
13 November 2012