Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing the Uyghur people in East Turkestan.
Charge: Splittism, leaking state secrets and organizing an illegal demonstration
Sentence: Life imprisonment
Location: Xinjiang Women’s Prison, Urumchi
One of the many Uyghurs punished by Chinese authorities for voicing opinions online after the July 5 unrest is Gulmire Imin, a 32-year-old woman who was invited to become an administrator for the website Salkin after having published a number of poems on various Uyghur websites. Imin was arrested on July 14, 2009, but her family did not receive any official documents regarding her detention. On April 1, 2010, she was sentenced to life in prison. Imin was sentenced on the same day as her closed trial.
Prior to her sentencing, Imin was forced to make false statements on state television about her actions and the actions of her husband, who was living in Norway. Her remarks were included in a CCTV 4 program regarding the July 5 unrest. See The July 5 Riot from Start Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
In March 2012, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, comprising a panel of international human rights experts, rendered the opinion that Gulmire Imin’s detention is arbitrary. Regarding Imin’s case, the Working Group found China in contravention of articles 8, 9, 10 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In December 2012, Human Rights Watch awarded Gulmire Imin the Hellman/Hammett prize for her efforts to promote freedom of expression.
The Chinese authorities frequently target Uyghurs for their online activity. Since the outbreak of unrest in 2009 in East Turkestan’s regional capital of Urumchi, several Uyghur webmasters and bloggers have been imprisoned. In the wake of the unrest, an unprecedented 10-month shutdown of the Internet in the Uyghur region was put into effect. When the Internet returned over 80% of Uyghur websites had been deleted.
Although new Uyghur websites have been developed since 2009, the crackdown has led to increased self censorship. Chinese sites are also more likely to censor posts by or about Uyghurs. Finally, Uyghurs activists are actively silenced online by targeted cyberattacks.
Please read UHRP’s report on Internet freedom in East Turkestan to learn more about the severe limits placed on Uyghur freedom of speech and association online.
Sign UHRP's petition to release all 8 prisoners in this campaign
Uyghur Web Moderators Get Life (Radio Free Asia, 2010)
The plight of Uyghur writers imprisoned in China (Uyghur PEN, 2012)
Throttling Dissent: China’s New Leaders Refine Internet Control (Freedom House, 2013)
Welcome to the Uighur Web (Foreign Policy, 2014)
How China Dismantled the Uyghur Internet (The Diplomat, 2014)
New study: Activists pose easy target for nation-state attackers (Ars Technica, August 12, 2014)