“Urumqi protests and crackdown – Two years later: the suppression of fundamental rights continues”

Amnesty International has detailed some of the cases of people disappeared in Xinjiang. Depressing stuff.

According to official figures, 197 died in the course of the violence, the vast majority of them Han Chinese. The Chinese authorities immediately blamed overseas agitators for planning, directing and instigating the unrest, without presenting evidence.

Eye witness accounts gathered by Amnesty International cast doubt on the official version of events, and point to unnecessary or excessive use of force by police against Uighur protesters including beatings, use of tear gas and shooting directly into crowds. Mass arrests followed the unrest with numerous reports of enforced disappearances, and torture and ill-treatment in detention. To date Chinese authorities have refused to allow any independent investigation into the unrest to be conducted.

Hundreds of individuals were detained and prosecuted in connection with the July 2009 protests. At least nine people were sentenced to death after summary trials. Others were prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms for nothing more than exercising their freedom of expression – managing Uighur websites where messages announcing the protests were posted or providing information to foreign sources about the crackdown.

Memetjan Abdulla, a broadcaster and editor for eight years with the Uighur service of China National Radio, is serving a life sentence after a closed trial in April 2010. He was accused of inciting the unrest by translating into Uighur and posting on the Uighur website Salkin a call by an overseas Uighur group to protest the beating to death of migrant Uighur workers in Guangdong province.

Hairat Niyaz, a Uighur journalist and website editor, continues to serve a 15-year sentence on charges of “endangering state security” for essays he had written and interviews he gave to Hong Kong journalists following the July 2009 protests.

Dilshat Paerhat, also a former editor of a popular Uighur-language website, remains in prison on a five-year sentence for “endangering state security”. Messages were reportedly posted on his website referring to protests on 5 July 2009 although, according to informed sources, as the website manager he removed these.

News of the sentencing of yet another editor of a popular Uighur-language website in connection to the 5 July protests only came to international attention in March 2011. Tursanjan Hezim, a former history teacher who ran the popular website Orkhun, was reportedly detained within days of the 5 July protests, although his family was not informed of his whereabouts or the charges against him. The family only learned in July 2010 of his seven year sentence imposed after a secret trial.

The authorities continue to pursue and prosecute individuals who divulge sensitive information about the treatment of Uighurs during the 5 July unrest or the ensuing crackdown.

They go on to describe the case of Ershidin Israil in detail- worth a read.

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Filed under China, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Xinjiang

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