Date: 30 October 2009
UIGHUR JOURNALIST DETAINED, RISKS TORTURE
Hairat Niyaz is a well-known journalist within China's Uighur community. He graduated from Beijing National
University in 1982, has since worked for several publications and is deliberately using the Chinese language to
report on the culture and situation of Uighurs in the XUAR to better reach Chinese-speaking domestic and overseas
audiences. He has been a senior journalist with the Xinjiang Economic Daily, Chief Editorial Director of Xinjiang
Legal Daily, and Deputy Director of the legal magazine Fazhi Zongheng . A collection of interviews he gave on the 5
July unrest, can be found in Chinese on the Uighur Online International Forum
Violence and widespread unrest broke out in Urumqi and other parts of the XUAR on 5 July, after a police
crackdown on demonstrations by Uighurs in Urumqi, which had begun peacefully. The demonstrators were
protesting at the authorities' failure to take immediate action following the death of two Uighur workers during a riot
at a factory in the city of Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong. After a violent crackdown, the
authorities accused overseas Uighurs, in particular the World Uyghur Congress and its president, Rebiya Kadeer, of
having masterminded the unrest.
Since the July unrest in the XUAR the authorities have detained thousands of people, brought dozens to trial,
threatened those involved in the unrest with harsh sentences and in October announced that 11 people had received
the first death sentences handed down for involvement in the unrest. The authorities have interpreted all dissent as
stemming from "terrorist" or "separatist" activities, justifying their harsh crackdown while ignoring the underlying
causes of the discontent. Eyewitness accounts received by Amnesty International contradict government accounts of
the events of July, and suggest the authorities used excessive force against the protesters, resulting in the deaths of
possibly hundreds of people.
In the XUAR, the authorities routinely associate Uighur cultural activities, religious practice and expressions of
dissent with the "three evils" of "terrorism, separatism and religious extremism." Many Uighurs are arbitrarily
detained and jailed as political prisoners or prisoners of conscience.
The editor of the popular Uighur website Uighurbiz.net, Ilham Tohti, was taken from his home on 8 July, shortly
after the authorities said that articles posted on his website had fuelled the violence. Ilham Tohti has denied this,
saying that he would never agree with using violence. He was released on 23 July but remains under surveillance.
There are unconfirmed reports that some other staff or regular contributors to Uighurbiz.net have gone missing.
Another journalist, Dilixiati Paerhati, has been detained incommunicado since 7 August, after being interrogated
over around eight days from 24 July, in relation to the 5 July unrest. (For details see: UA 262/09, ASA
17/056/2009, 30 September 2009.)
On 27 September the XUAR Regional People's Congress Standing Committee issued new regulations that explicitly
forbade the use of the internet to "endanger state security" or "instigat ethnic separatism."
The Criminal Law already includes the crime of "endangering state security," which includes "subversion of state
power," "separatism" and "leaking state secrets." However, over recent years the authorities have increasingly used
these vaguely-worded provisions to silence and imprison peaceful activists and to curtail freedom of expression.
UA: 290/09 Index: ASA 17/060/2009 Issue Date: 30 October 2009