Three of Rebiya Kadeer’s children detained as US Congressional team arrive in Urumchi

For immediate release

May 30, 2006, 5:30 p.m. EDT

Contact: Uyghur American Association, +1 (202) 349 1496

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has learned that three adult children of the Uyghur human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience Rebiya Kadeer, have been detained by police and are being refused permission to contact other family members or lawyers. Their detention coincides with the arrival of a US Congressional team in East Turkistan, the area also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

According to UHRP’s sources, Ms Kadeer’s sons Ablikim and Alim Abdiriyim, and one of her daughters Rushangul, were taken into detention on Monday evening before the arrival of the Congressional team in East Turkistan on Tuesday May 30. UHRP understands that Rushangul was told not to take her two-month-old daughter with her when she was summonsed to the police station. The infant was instead left in the care of Rebiya Kadeer’s sister, who herself was recently blinded in a car accident.

“I demand the immediate release of my three children by the Chinese government, said Rebiya Kadeer today. “The Chinese government has to stop harassing my family and
relatives in East Turkistan.

It is possible that all three will be released once the Congressional team has left East Turkistan, or alternatively their release could be delayed until the team has returned to the US. Chinese police regularly arbitrarily detain opponents of the government’s policies and practices, only to release them again when the threat of an ‘embarrassing’ encounter with visiting dignitaries has passed.

Sources state that all three of Ms Kadeer’s children were warned not to attempt to contact the visiting Congressional team. However, it appears that the Chinese authorities may have detained all three to forestall any chance of them contacting or being contacted by the team. UHRP understands that the Congressional team are to remain in East Turkistan until June 4 at the invitation of the central and the regional Chinese government, whereupon the team will then travel on to Beijing.

However, it is far from certain that Ms Kadeer’s three children will in fact be released when the Congressional team leaves. For instance, Alim Abdiriyim has been detained on numerous occasions most often as a result of his stewardship of some of Rebiya Kadeer’s remaining business interests. The Chinese authorities recently advised him to hire a lawyer, which almost certainly means he is soon to face formal charges relating to accusations of tax fraud and embezzlement. Any additional charges which may arise from his latest detention could now hasten his formal arrest and pre-trial detention.

There are deep concerns that the Chinese authorities are fabricating charges against Alim Abdiriyim in an apparent attempt to punish and discredit his mother. For instance, soon after Ms Kadeer arrived in exile in the US, Alim Abdiriyim was told to sign a statement confirming the Chinese government’s allegations of tax fraud and embezzlement against his mother, and was told he would “sign it in prison after we’ve broken each one of your ribs if he refused.

Rebiya Kadeer’s family and former business associates have faced almost constant harassment by police ever since she was first detained by police in Urumchi in 1999, but particularly since her release and exile to the US and her outspoken criticism of the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur people. Police in East Turkistan’s regional capital of Urumchi last year established a unit devoted to investigating and policing the relatives and businesses of Rebiya Kadeer.

Ms Kadeer’s detention in 1999 which then led to her formal arrest and eventual sentencing on political charges, came when she herself tried to contact a visiting US Congressional team. Ms Kadeer was sentenced to eight years in prison, but released early and immediately flown to the US on March 17, 2005 just days before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to visit Beijing.

As she joined the small group of US State Department officials in Beijing accompanying her on the flight to the US, Chinese officials reportedly told her not to speak out on behalf of the Uyghur people, otherwise her “businesses and children will be finished . Ms Kadeer was elected President of the Uyghur American Association (UAA) on May 29, 2006 by the organization’s members at the UAA’s bi-annual congress in Washington, DC.