Atikem Rozi

Charge: Separatism
Sentence:  3-8 years (specific length unknown)
Location: Unknown


Rozi was a student of Uyghur scholar, Ilham Tohti and contributed to the Uighurbiz website. Authorities summoned her for questioning in Beijing on January 15, 2014 and detained her on January 17, 2014; she was then 22 years old. She was among seven students of Ilham Tohti tried on November 25 and sentenced on December 8.

Rozi was previously detained in February 2013 after posting online about difficulties with her application for a passport. She applied for the passport in Beijing and was informed she required approval from her hometown authorities in East Turkestan. Her application was denied three times between 2010 and 2012, allegedly on political grounds, despite absence of any political record.

Rozi posted on Sina Weibo after the third refusal. State media outlet Metro Beijing ran an English language piece in December 2012 about the double standard facing Rozi and other Uyghurs applying for passports. After Uighurbiz translated their article into Chinese, state media outlet Global Times reported on the translation and the debate it inspired over passport discrimination for minorities.

Rozi appears to have been punished for this debate when she returned to East Turkestan in February 2013. On February 5, she disclosed that officers detained and interrogated her and her mother for six hours then released them, Uighurbiz reported. Officers continued to harass Rozi at her home on February 7, 2013.

Rozi was active on Twitter, Facebook, and Sina Weibo. In addition to posting about her passport experience, she used social media to pose questions about the whereabouts of her boyfriend, Mutellip Imin (featured in the next profile) during his 55 day enforced disappearance, Alexa Oleson notes in Foreign Policy.

Issue (passport restrictions):

Passport restrictions for Uyghurs are commonplace. In the Global Times coverage of Rozi’s case, a Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences researcher states that Rozi, in possession of a Beijing hukou, should not have required approval from her hometown. He adds that Uyghurs in East Turkestan do have to undergo a background check and provide additional documents such as an invitation letter from friends overseas.

Following Rozi’s 2013 harassment and interrogation, UHRP issued a briefing on passport restrictions for Uyghurs, which described how authorities have confiscated Uyghurs passports en masse from 2007-2008. In a 2014 report, Human Rights Watch confirmed that this double-tiered passport system in China had resulted in a near-total ban on legal foreign travel in residents of East Turkestan and Tibet, though state corruption enabled many to flee the country through bribes.

Get involved:

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

Read/listen/watch on:

Watch an Associated Press report featuring a Uyghur community protest in Washington, DC to raise awareness of China's abuses of Uyghurs' human rights, including routinely denying passports to Uyghurs. The demonstration was held on the sixth anniversary of unrest in Urumchi on July 5, 2009, which forced Uighurbiz to shut down for a year before moving to an overseas server.

Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) urges President Obama to call for release of Ilham Tohti during Xi Jinping visit to Washington, DC (UHRP, September 21, 2015)
China: End Two-Tier Travel System for Tibetans, Others (Human Rights Watch: July 13, 2015)
After Sentencing for ‘Separatism,’ Finding the Humans Behind the Bars (Foreign Policy: December 18, 2014)
Briefing: Refusals of passports to Uyghurs and confiscations of passports held by Uyghurs indicator of second-class status in China (Uyghur Human Rights Project: February 7, 2013)
Double Standards (Global Times: December 24, 2012)
Official: No Passport Discrimination (Global Times: December 19, 2012)


CLICK HERE for the next prisoner page: Mutellip Imin