Uyghur Human Rights Project Condemns Death in Custody of Scholar Muhammad Salih Hajim

International community should press for release of his relatives and other Uyghurs detained without charge

For immediate Release

January 29, 2018, 3:30 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has received confirmation from the relatives of Muhammad Salih Hajim of his death in custody.  The prominent Quarnic scholar and Uyghur religious leader was 82 years old.

On January 24, 2018, UHRP expressed concern about reports of his detention in Urumchi.  The exact circumstances of his death are unknown, but he was taken into custody approximately 40 days ago, along with his daughter and other relatives.  UHRP calls on the Chinese government to reveal under what conditions he was being kept, and to release his relatives if they are not being charged with any crime. 

“The death of Muhammad Salih Hajim is a blow to the Uyghur community, given his respected status as a religious leader and scholar.  Imprisoning an elderly man without charge demonstrates the lengths to which the Chinese authorities are going in their re-education campaign.  Not even individuals who were government-approved members of the religious establishment are being spared,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat. 

Salih was born in the city of Atush in East Turkestan in 1936, and was the first scholar to translate the Quran into Uyghur in a government-approved project. 

It is not known whether Salih was placed in a normal prison or one of the re-education camps where thousands of Uyghurs are being detained in harsh conditions (link in Uyghur) according to individuals who have been released.  Prominent members of the community as well as average people have been detained, seemingly without regard to age or gender. 

The international community should demand clarification about the circumstances of Muhammad Salih Hajim’s death and push China to release the thousands of Uyghurs detained without charge in reeducation camps. 

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