Charge: Endangering State Security Sentence: 15 years imprisonment Location: Xinjiang No. 3 Prison
Gheyret Niyaz was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for endangering state security on July 23, 2010. Prior to his arrest and detention in October 2009, Niyaz worked as a senior reporter for the Xinjiang Economic Daily and as an administrator for Uighurbiz. The website, founded by Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, was created as a multi-lingual forum for news and dialogue between Uyghurs, Han and other ethnicities on Uyghur social issues.
Niyaz had publicly criticized official economic policies and bilingual education, although he was widely viewed as holding many pro-government views. Niyaz was reportedly sentenced following a one-day trial in Urumchi, which only one family member, his wife, Risalet, was allowed to attend. Risalet was quoted in media reports as saying that Niyaz insisted in court that he had broken no laws, and that he said he had acted in good conscience as a citizen and a journalist. Risalet stated that during Niyaz’s trial, prosecutors presented essays Niyaz had written and used interviews he gave to foreign media in the wake of July 2009 unrest in Urumchi as evidence that he was guilty of endangering state security.
Issue (freedom of the press):
Since the unrest of July 5, 2009, Chinese officials have silenced Uyghur voices and have actively sought to suppress information that contradicts the official narrative on the events. Besides a 10-month communications blackout, harsh punishment for Uyghur webmasters and journalists aided official efforts to manage and control information emerging from the region on the unrest.
In reports from the leading press freedom and freedom of expression monitors, China’s record on censorship and harassment of journalists has been unequivocally condemned. China ranks 176th worst for press freedom out of 180 states in Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index. Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties across the globe published in 2015 placed China in the “not free” category. In its 2014 prison census, CPJ documented 44 journalists imprisoned in China (of them 17 are Uyghur) out of a global total of 221. The second highest number is in Eritrea with 23 individuals.
End of the Road: One Belt, One Road and the Cumulative Economic Marginalization of the Uyghurs, a new research report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), is an examination of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) economic initiative from a Uyghur human rights perspective.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on the European Parliament to award Ilham Tohti the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Professor Ilham Tohti has been a consistent voice for the equitable treatment of Uyghurs in China and in doing so has made an outstanding contribution to human rights.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is concerned a new Counter-Terrorism Law adopted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) on December 27, 2015, and effective as of January 1, 2016, is a mandate for the Chinese government to commit human rights violations against the Uyghur people in East Turkestan.
The WUC and UHRP have jointly submitted an alternative report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) for consideration during the 56th session of the Committee from November 9 to December 9, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.