Amnesty International renews its call on the Chinese authorities to release an ethnic Uighur prisoner of conscience jailed on separatism charges after his family reported that he is being tortured in a Xinjiang prison.
Ablikim Abdiriyim, the son of prominent Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, told relatives visiting him last week that he has been held in solitary confinement since 3 November after witnessing an incident that prison authorities wanted to keep quiet. His health has since deteriorated sharply.
The news comes exactly a year after 20 Uighur asylum-seekers were forcibly deported to China from Cambodia. China has not made public the whereabouts of the group, which included two children, since they were seized on 19 December 2009.
"The alleged torture of Ablikim Abdiriyim is the latest example of systematic human rights abuses suffered by China's Uighur population at the hands of the Chinese authorities," said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific deputy director at Amnesty International.
The Chinese authorities must investigate allegations that Ablikim Abdiriyim has been tortured and make sure he has access to medical help for any injuries he may have suffered."
Ablikim Abdiriyim was sentenced to nine years in prison for “instigating and engaging in secessionist activities” in April 2007.
Despite Chinese state media claiming his trial was fair, Abdiriyim's family says he was not given the right to legal representation of his choice and his “confession” was likely to have been made under torture.
Ablikim Abduriyim’s relatives visited him in prison on 13 December and he told them he had been tortured. He said he was also transferred to solitary confinement after refusing to sign a document denying that he had witnessed a controversial incident in the prison.
Ablikim Abdiriyim was detained in June 2006. His mother is Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent Uighur businesswoman and activist whose family has been targeted by the authorities since she was detained as a prisoner of conscience in 1999.
This intensified after she was released on medical parole on 17 March 2005 and left China for the USA.
On 27 November 2006, the day after Rebiya Kadeer was elected president of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a court sentenced two of her sons, Alim Abdiriyim and Kahar Abdiriyim, to fines amounting to millions of US dollars, and Alim to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of tax evasion.
The torture of Ablikim Abdiriyim appears to be the latest example of the unacceptable persecution against Rebiya Kadeer's family," said Catherine Baber. Amnesty International has also called on China to account for the whereabouts of 20 Uighur asylum-seekers deported to China from Cambodia a year ago.
Nineteen of the individuals fled to Cambodia from China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in the wake of riots in the city of Urumqi of July 2009, fearing persecution by the Chinese authorities.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, was in the process of reviewing their applications for refugee status when Cambodia succumbed to pressure from the Chinese government to deport the individuals.
The deportations attracted international condemnation as there were fears the group would suffer serious human rights violations on their return.
“We condemn the lack of transparency surrounding the cases of these individuals and urge the Chinese government to tell the world what happened to them," said Catherine Baber.