Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have detained a well-known Uyghur philanthropist who housed the children of political prisoners, according to sources that said he may have been sentenced to nearly two decades in jail.
Nurtay Hajim, who is in his 60s, amassed a fortune through an international tourism and shipping firm he set up shortly after China expanded trade relations with the nations of Central Asia in the early 1990s.
According to a report published on China’s Sina.com, Hajim invested 3.8 million yuan (U.S. $548,700) in 2007 to launch the Nurtay Iskender School for Orphans, which offers free accommodation, food and education for 150 Uyghur children whose parents have died and other kids who lack guardians, from across the XUAR.
The businessman, who is admired in the Uyghur community for his generosity, has provided an annual donation of some 1.15 million yuan (U.S. $166,000) to the school to cover the costs of its students.
A Uyghur source from the XUAR recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Hajim had been taken into custody by local authorities shortly after returning to Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Qorghas (Huocheng) county from a business trip to neighboring Kazakhstan.