Human Rights Day 2015: Act Now for Uyghur Political Prisoners

Sign a PETITION on behalf of Uyghurs in jail for political reasons

For immediate release
December 9, 2015 10:00am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

Uyghurs in East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) are routinely imprisoned for political reasons. The life sentencing of Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti in 2014 demonstrates the Chinese authorities do not hesitate to harshly punish Uyghurs who contradict government policies on ethnic affairs.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day 2015 and to highlight the issue of Uyghurs jailed for their beliefs the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has produced an online report detailing the cases of eight Uyghur prisoners of conscience.  

“Xi Jinping has presided over an intense crackdown on political dissidents since becoming Chinese president. His administration has targeted lawyers, journalists, academics and activists who have spoken out about repressive policies in China,” said UHRP director, Alim Seytoff in a statement. “Uyghurs who raise legitimate questions over a range of political, economic, social and cultural issues face certain imprisonment. In any civilized country the eight Uyghurs emphasized by UHRP would be listened to, not harshly punished.”  

Mr. Seytoff added: “I ask you to sign UHRP’s petition urging China to release these imprisoned Uyghurs and tell Xi Jinping these individuals have not been forgotten by the outside world.”

The list of political prisoners is compiled as a CALL FOR ACTION to the global community of activists to remind China that it is obliged to abide by international human rights standards, especially those contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) celebrated on Human Rights Day.

The annual December 10 commemoration of the adoption of the UDHR by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 restates the indivisibility of human rights and of government responsibilities to meet fundamental human rights.

Profiles contain information on the life and work of each Uyghur political prisoner, as well as details regarding their cases. Also provided are introductions to the issues raised by each political prisoner and opportunities to discover more information through external research.

UHRP links to ACTIONS THAT YOU CAN TAKE on behalf of each Uyghur and has created a PETITION for you to sign that will be sent to Chinese president, Xi Jinping asking for the immediate release of these eight political prisoners.

Ilham Tohti and Gheyret Niyaz were jailed for exercising their freedom of speech. Professor Ilham Tohti was particularly outspoken on a number of economic, social and cultural issues facing the Uyghurs through his Uighurbiz website. The case of Gheyret Niyaz illustrates the constraints placed on freedom of the press.

Uighurbiz volunteers Atikem Rozi and Mutellip Imin were sentenced in December 2014. In addition to the denial of their fundamental right to freedom of speech, the cases of Atikem Rozi and Mutellip Imin highlight the difficulties facing young Uyghurs. Rozi faced systemic discrimination when attempting to secure a passport and Imin wrote a remarkable account of his enforced disappearance at the hands of Chinese security officials.

The jailing of Merdan Seyitakhun is demonstrative of the curbs placed on religious rights in East Turkestan and Huseyin Celil’s imprisonment questions the legitimacy of China’s anti-terror campaign aimed at Uyghurs. The detention of HIV/AIDS activist, Akbar Imin is a potent example of the limited space the Uyghurs have to raise social problems with the state.

The case of Abdurazzak Shamseden is illustrative of the Chinese government’s harsh crackdown after the violent suppression of a protest in Ghulja in 1997 and how Chinese authorities target family members of Uyghur activists. His treatment in prison displays the endemic nature of torture facing Uyghur political prisoners.

The report is online at: http://uhrp.org/political-prisoners-2015/act-now-uyghur-political-prisoners

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