Charge: Inciting counter-revolutionary propaganda and organizing a counter-revolutionary group
Sentence: 12 years, ending in 2019 (extended in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014)
Location: Xinjiang No. 3 Prison


Abdukarim Abduweli is a religious leader from Kucha. In the late 1980s, Abduweli travelled across East Turkestan preaching the Quran and advocating the spread of Islam.

Abduweli has been in jail for 24 years. His sentence was extended in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, and most recently for five years in 2014. His family has received a written court verdict explaining the additional sentences only once in 2009.

Abduweli was detained in November 1990, and charged in 1991 with inciting counter-revolutionary propaganda. Until his sentencing in 1993, he was subject to solitary confinement and his ability to pray was restricted.  He was sentenced in a closed hearing with no lawyer to represent him. The charge of “organizing a counterrevolutionary group” was added in the trial, and he was accused of organizing the Islamic Reformist Party in October 1990, before that group had even undertaken any activities. The appended charge raised “strong doubts as to the nature of the evidence against him,” Amnesty wrote.

Abduweli’s medical condition reached a critical point in 2012. In September 2011, he went on a hunger strike for nine months to protest his sentence extensions, and was force-fed via an IV tube. His family was allowed to visit during that time and found his health to be critical and he has since been diagnosed with bone and joint cancer.


Curbs on Uyghur freedom of religious belief and practice are well documented, including extensive regulation on mosque attendance specifically preventing children under 18 and party members from attending a mosque; bans on cross-village worship; limits on participation in the Hajj pilgrimage; strict control of “Islamic” dress; and limits on observance of Ramadan particularly for students and state workers.  Increasingly, state regulations ban religious practices that have long been part of the Uyghur tradition.

UHRP’s 2013 report, Sacred Right Defiled: China’s Iron-Fisted Repression of Uyghur Religious Freedom documents the extensive nature of religious restrictions in the region.

Get involved:

Sign UHRP's petition to release all 8 prisoners in this campaign

Write a letter to Chinese officials urging the release of Abdukiram Abduweli.

Read/listen/watch on:

Listen: UHRP has translated a brief segment of a tabliq speech [informal religious discussion] delivered by Abdukiram Abduweli. The full 19-section (approximately 45 minute each) tabliq is available here.

Watch: UHRP assembled a team of experts in conversation around restrictions on Uyghur religious practice to launch the 2013 report, Sacred Right Defiled
Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang (Human Rights Watch Report, April 13, 2005)

Raid on Hotan religious school reflects brutality of official Chinese policies amid crackdown on religion in East Turkestan (Uyghur American Association, June 6, 2012)

Red Tape: Chinese Government Regulation of Uyghur Religious Freedom (World Policy Blog, May 20, 2013)

Crackdown, Misunderstanding of Uyghur Faith (The Huffington Post, July 3, 2013)

China Criticized for Banning Ramadan Fast (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, July 7, 2014)

China punishes Xinjiang official for openly practising faith (Reuters, August 19, 2014)

BRIEFING: China attempts to criminalize every aspect of Uyghur religious belief and practice (Uyghur Human Rights Project, May 8, 2014)

Bus ban in Karamay treats Uyghurs as second class citizens and demonstrates open discrimination (Uyghur American Association, August 5, 2014)


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