Young Kamile should be studying, not languishing in jail.
Kamile Wayit, a Uyghur university student who is currently enrolled at the Shangju Institute of Technology in Henan, was detained on 12 December 2022 and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment under the charge of “promoting extremism”.
This accusation is often arbitrarily used against Uyghurs and other Turkic people in Xinjiang for exercising their right to freedom of expression. According to a reliable source, the grounds for these charges were that she shared a video on Chinese social media app WeChat about a nationwide peaceful protest in China. The protest aimed to commemorate victims of the Urumqi Fire. Kamile is now believed to be held at Kashgar Mush Women’s Prison, according to a transcript of calls between an investigative journalist from Radio Free Asia and relevant law enforcement agencies in Xinjiang.
Kamile has not only been targeted for exercising her right to freedom of expression. She, like many other Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in China, faces unequal and harsh treatment on the basis of her ethnic and religious identity.
Since 2017, under the guise of a campaign against “terrorism” and “religious extremism,” the government of China has carried out widespread and systematic human rights violations against Uyghur and Turkic people living in Xinjiang, including arbitrary mass detentions.
In the meantime, human rights defenders and activists who express critical opinions or report on topics deemed sensitive by the government – including but not limited to the repression in Xinjiang – face harassment, intimidation, detention, and criminal sentences. Sign the petition and call on the Chinese authorities to release Kamile Wayit,and urge them to stop the crackdown on dissenting voices and cease targeting individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression.