Category Archives: Eastern Turkestan

UHRP: The Persecution of the Intellectuals in the Uyghur Region: Disappeared Forever?

In the current crackdown in East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang), the Chinese authorities have made Uyghur intellectuals a principal target. A new report from the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) entitled “The Persecution of the Intellectuals in the Uyghur Region: Disappeared Forever?” details how 231 intellectuals have been forcibly disappeared, interned in political indoctrination camps, removed from their posts or imprisoned since April 2017. The individuals identified by UHRP likely represent only a small proportion of those impacted.

UHRP’s Director Omer Kanat will present the findings of the report at the Scholars at Risk event “A Year in Attacks on Higher Education,” at the NYU School of Law on October 23rd at 6 pm.


RFA: Xinjiang Authorities Jail Prominent Uyghur Television Host

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have jailed the Uyghur former host of a popular children’s television show, according to sources, who said he was targeted for producing a program that detailed the financial struggles of three young students.

A source with ties to the XUAR recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Erkin Tursun, the host of the “Hopeful Eyes” show on the official Ili Television Station in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, was arrested by police in Ghulja (Yining) county in March and later sentenced to as many as 11 years in prison.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that after Tursun produced a program last year to public acclaim entitled “The World is Beautiful and Filled With Love and Care”—documenting the bid by three Uyghur children to attain an education in the face of poverty— “Hopeful Eyes” was shut down and he became the key figure in an investigation by local authorities.

A staff member at Ili Television Station told RFA that “there is no such person working here,” when asked about Tursun, but said that further details were “inconvenient to discuss over the phone” and suggested that the interviewer make inquiries in person.

But an employee at Ghulja county’s Hudiyaryuz township police department, which a source told RFA had orchestrated Tursun’s arrest, confirmed that the television producer had been taken into custody, although he said it was by police from a neighboring township.

“The Jiliyuz Police Department,” the employee said when asked who was involved in Tursun’s arrest, adding that he had later been turned over to authorities in Ghulja city.


Report Chinese Government Intimidation and Influence Operations on US Soil

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As noted in recent media accounts, the government of the People’s Republic of China has engaged in the intimidation of US citizens and conducted influence operations on US soil with almost complete impunity. We request the FBI to immediately establish an anonymous tip line and/or website to counter brazen Chinese government threats and influence operations on US soil. Furthermore, we request the FBI publish clear guidelines for actionable tips.

RFA: Exile Leaders Slam China Claims of ‘Voluntary Vocational Training’ For Detained Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Uyghur exile leaders on Friday dismissed China’s claims that members of their ethnic group held in political “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are taking part in “voluntary vocational training,” saying Beijing seeks to cover up widespread abuses in the region.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

While Beijing initially denied the existence of such camps, the Uyghur chairman of Xinjiang’s provincial government, Shohrat Zakir, told China’s official Xinhua news agency earlier this week that the facilities are “humane” and a tool to protect the country from terrorism.

According to Zakir, Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims in the region are taught Mandarin at the camps, as well as important vocational skills and lessons on Chinese law, all while being provided with free meals in comfortable living conditions, and that they are free to come and go as they like.

Reporting by RFA and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Western governments have increasingly drawn attention to the camp network, where Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said that some 1.1 million people are or have been detained—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the XUAR.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert recently said the U.S. government was “deeply troubled” by the crackdown on Uyghurs, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described it earlier this week as “the largest internment of civilians in the world today” and “straight out of George Orwell,” during a speech at the Chiefs of Defense Conference Dinner in Washington.

‘Covering up crimes’

Zakir’s claims were part of a now almost daily barrage of Chinese state media propaganda extolling the camp system.

On Tuesday, state broadcaster CCTV ran a primetime program praising the camp system, with interviews with Uyghurs thanking the campaign for correcting their erroneous ways. Critics said the interviews looked like the televised forced confessions and apologies China has used to showcase the conversion disappeared human rights lawyers and other dissidents.


RFA: Xinjiang Authorities Detain Prominent Uyghur Journalist in Political ‘Re-Education Camp’

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are holding a prominent Uyghur journalist and poet in a political “re-education camp,” according to his son, who said the arrest is being used as leverage against him because he is living in exile in the U.S.

Bahram Qurban, the son of former editor-in-chief of the official Xinjiang Cultural Journal Qurban Mamut, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that his parents visited him for a month in the U.S. beginning in February 2017, marking the first time the three had seen each other in more than nine years.

After the couple returned home to the XUAR, 68-year-old Mamut went missing, and Qurban said that he later learned that his father had been taken to one of a network of re-education camps in the region, where Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have since April 2017 been detained without legal process.

“I inquired about him and learned that he had been arrested,” he said.

“He never committed any crime, but the authorities regularly arrest people who have relatives living abroad [to gain leverage over them]. I believe that is why he was arrested. While it isn’t my fault, I feel that I am the reason for his arrest.”


RFA: China Sugar Restrictions in Xinjiang Hit Uyghur Bakeries Hard

Government restrictions on buying daily necessities are getting more severe for Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) an anonymous source told RFA’s Uyghur service.

The source, a Uyghur woman who left the country last year and is living abroad, contacted RFA to reveal a new rule in place that restricts the purchase of sugar. Coming into effect in 2017, the rule has forced the woman’s family to close down their bakery, which they had been running for 10 years.

“My sister started the bakery in 2008 and it had been doing good business, enough to support the whole family,” the source said. “One day my sister left a message on WhatsApp, saying that the authorities were rationing sugar. She said we had to close down the shop because in order to buy over our allotted amount, we would have to go to apply for police approval.”

The source also said that in order to buy sugar, customers must show their ID and an approval letter stamped by the police. These letters can be hard to come by for anyone who has family members sent into political re-education camps under a campaign launched in early 2017 or who otherwise had a black mark against their name, she said.

In late 2016, authorities in the region issued a decree to all the grocery stores and supermarkets requiring that they verify that customers wishing to buy sugar have the right permissions in order. According to social media comments, the official government line was that sugar could be used for nefarious purposes, like making explosives.


RFA: PART II: Interview: ‘We Can Observe The Toilet With Cameras as Well’

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule. Sources say detainees routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers in the camps and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities. China initial denial that the camps exist has in the face of tide of evidence shifted to the claim that the facilities provide vocational training to grateful Uyghurs, and XUAR authorities have grafted an amendment onto counter-terrorism legislation in a largely unsuccessful effort to portray the camp system as legal. An officer at a police station in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service about the conditions at a camp where he worked as a guard for 10 months. In the second part of the interview, the officer—who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal­­—describes the stern regimen detainees must follow in one camp.

Part 1

more of Part 2

RFA: Prominent Uyghur Publisher Arrested, Under Investigation

A senior Uyghur publishing executive and Communist Party official was arrested in July on suspicion he was involved in “separatism and religious extremism activities,” a source in the publishing sector told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

Abdurahman Abey, approximately 65, had a 40-year career in writing and publishing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), serving as director of the official Xinhua Bookstore, and from 2005-2015 as director and Communist Party deputy secretary of the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.

In Chinese media he had been portrayed as an “energetic publisher” who won national awards in the field every year from 2003-13.

Following an anonymous tip that Abey was arrested in July, RFA’s Uyghur Service called official organizations in Xinjiang, including the Uyghur Autonomous Regional Party Committee, the Discipline Inspection Commission, the Organization Department, the Cultural Supervision Bureau and the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.

A staff member at the Xinjiang Youth Publishing House confirmed the arrest of Abey and gave some details.

“During the time when he was working at the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House (Abey) was implicated in separatism and religious extremism activities. Therefore he is under arrest and further investigation,” said the staffer.

“He left the youth publishing house a long time ago, and the incidents took place after he started working in the People’s Publishing House, and his arrest has been reported within Xinjiang,” the staffer added.


RFA: Malaysian Leader Mahathir Confirms Decision to Free Uyghurs

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed on Monday that his government had freed 11 ethnic Uyghur Muslims, saying the refugees had not broken laws in his country, in a move that defied Beijing’s request that they be repatriated.

Malaysia allowed the Uyghurs to depart for Turkey last week after dropping immigration charges against them, the men’s lawyer told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news site, on Thursday.

“They have done nothing wrong in this country, so they are released,” Mahathir told reporters in parliament.

China, which had asked for their extradition, said Friday that it “resolutely” opposed Malaysia’s decision to release the 11 Uyghurs, according to Reuters.

“These people are all Chinese nationals. We resolutely oppose them being deported to a third country,” Reuters reported China’s Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.

The 11 men were part of a group of 20 who fled to Malaysia in November 2017 after escaping from a detention center in southern Thailand by drilling holes in a wall.



Where are my family members? (Video)