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.