The oldest of more than a dozen staff members arrested after their Uyghur-run publishing house in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) released “problematic” books has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, despite a serious health condition, according to sources.
At least 14 staff members of Kashgar Publishing House in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city have been arrested since last year, a source with ties to the region recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In addition to Kashgar Publishing House’s current deputy editor-in-chief, a 30-year veteran editor, and two former editors-in-chief, the source said that 80-year-old Haji Mirzahid Kerimi, a former editor for the company and celebrated poet, was sentenced to 11 years in prison because he wrote five books that were later blacklisted by the government and delivered a “problematic” speech during an award ceremony for his poetry.
The arrests are part of a “sweeping campaign” in the XUAR since the beginning of 2017 to censor literature based on political content, the source said, with sensitive books being categorized as “dangerous” or “problematic,” and anyone deemed responsible for publishing them targeted for detention.
An officer at Kashgar’s Naisheng district police department told RFA he was aware that Kerimi had been found guilty, but said his case “doesn’t come under our jurisdiction” and was unsure of the length of his sentence.