Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing the Uyghur people in East Turkestan.
Charge: Endangering state security
Akbar Imin came to Beijing in 2002 to attend Minzu University and graduated in 2006. He then worked in the inaugural phase of the Aizhixing Insitute’s Uyghur Migrant Health Education and Rights Protection program, carrying out health education, running the Center’s Uyghur website, and conducting research on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and prevention policy.
In 2009 Imin went to work for the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, the only other organization in Beijing dedicated to Uyghur migrants, where he was in charge of the Uyghur Migrant Population Drug Reduction program.
Police in Urumchi detained Akbar Imin in Urumchi on January 15 when he was in the city to attend his father’s funeral.
Chinese policies exacerbated the early AIDS epidemic amongst Uyghurs in the 1990s, as AIDS spread chiefly through needle sharing. In the absence of an effective antidrug program, Uyghurs in the border city of Ghulja organized religious gatherings called meshrep as an effective grassroots effort to combat drug use.
After Chinese authorities banned the meshrep, a large number of peaceful protesters assembled on February 5, 1997. Police used batons, tear gas, high-pressure hoses and even shot at the peaceful protestors, according to Amnesty International “estimates of the casualties by unofficial sources varied from 30 to 100.” In the weeks that followed, authorities arrested “from 3,000 to over 5,000.” Uyghurs. Dozens and possibly hundreds of Uyghur people were subsequently executed and many more disappeared.
See Channel Four News (UK) video on the Ghulja massacre.
As in East Turkestan, the Aizhixing Institute in Beijing found high rates of infection and lack of education among intravenous drug users in the migrant Uyghur community in Beijing, compounded by housing and employment discrimination as well as police harassment.
Uyghur Human Rights Project director, Alim Seytoff writes on the AIDS epidemic for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Analyst in 2000.
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Follow the AIDS activism work of Asia Catalyst
Uyghur Public Health Worker Arrested on State Security Charges (Chinese Human Rights Defenders, March 13, 2014)
China detains Uighur AIDS activist amid crackdown (Reuters, March 10, 2014)
Chinas Muslim Uyghurs See Sharp Rise in AIDS Infections (Radio Free Asia, November 30, 2004)
HIV/AIDS in Xinjiang: A Growing Regional Challenge (China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, 2006)
China’s Muslims Awake to Nexus of Needles and AIDS (New York Times, November 12, 2006)
AIDS Activist's Dream 'Died' (Radio Free Asia, June 26, 2008)
The Pain of a Nation: The Invisibility of Uyghurs in China Proper (The Equal Rights Review, 2011)
HIV/AIDS in Xinjiang: A Serious “Ill” In An “Autonomous” Region (International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 2012)
Remember the Gulja massacre? China’s crackdown on peaceful protesters (Amnesty International, February 1, 2014)