Aug 09, 2010

East Turkestan: Activists Jailed for Life for July 5th Riots.

Three Uyghur people including a prominent Uyghur women tipped by many to be a future leader of the Uyghur people named Gulmire Imin was imprisoned for life for co-organising the July 5th  (2009) unrest in Urumqi.


Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:


A court in China has sentenced three people to life in jail for alleged "separatist" offenses, according to a Uyghur woman who said she attended the trial.

Gulmire Imin, 32, had worked for the Uyghur-language Salkin Website, called for a demonstration on July 5, 2009, the source said. Ethnic Uyghurs took to the streets en masse in July 2009 to protest a violent attack weeks earlier against Uyghur migrant workers in far-off Guangdong province, which officials allegedly failed to quell promptly.

Those clashes in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), left some 200 people dead, by official count.

Chinese authorities detained hundreds of people in the aftermath and charged an unknown number, including Gulmire Imin, with fomenting the violence.

“We had expected her to become one of leaders of the Uyghur region in the future. I’m so sad about her fate," the witness said.

The Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court tried six Uyghurs on April 1, subsequently sentencing Gulmire Imin and two men to life terms, for allegedly planning and organizing an illegal demonstration, separatism, and leaking state secrets, she said.

Three others defendants were handed prison sentences of varying lengths, according to the witness. Officials declined to comment.

Dilxat Raxit of the Munich-based exile World Uyghur Congress said, “We have already confirmed that subdistrict committee chair Gulmire Imin was one of the three sentenced to life in prison, but we strongly believe that the other two are named Ahmet Tursun and Muhter."

“Gulmire Imin’s position in government once again proves how common the demands behind the July 5 demonstration were in Uyghur society,” Dilxat Raxit said.

"We have learned that more than 100 administrators who worked with Salkin were arrested over July 5. We can estimate that if we add in the administrators of the other two major Uyghur Websites, Diyarim and Shebnem, at least 300 Web administrators [must be] detained and jailed in the Uyghur region now. We call again on the international community to conduct an independent investigation."

Court officials declined to comment.

“I don’t want to become their roommate from answering your question," one court official in Urumqi said, alluding to stringent rules regarding the sharing of information from such a sensitive region.

A staff member at the Tianshan Dongmen [in Uyghur, Tengritagh district, Sherqi Qowuq subdistrict] office, where Gulmire Imin had worked, confirmed that she had been sentenced to life in prison and no longer worked there but refused to give information about her or others.

“She was one of my best friends,” the witness, a businesswoman interviewed while visiting Kazakhstan from China, said.

According to the witness, Gulmire Imin was born in Aksu city in 1978 and grew up there.

She graduated  from the Chinese-Uyghur translation department of  Xinjiang University in 2000 and began to work for the subdistrict committee in September 2000.

She had been praised and awarded many times by city and regional officials.

“She has outstanding organizing talents, and the population of the subdistrict she was in charge of was 40,000,” the witness said.

“But she was very outspoken, and she could not keep silent about injustices she witnessed."

"I don’t remember the names of the other five [who were sentenced], but you can see them on documentary aired by China Central Television, about July 5,” the witness said.

The documentary, titled The July 5 Riot from Start to Finish and aired in October, claims the July 5 unrest in Urumqi was organized by separatist forces cooperating inside and outside the country.

It says Gulmire Imin was one of six organizers who attended three meetings planning the demonstration and that she leaked state secret.

It names five other Website administrators–Ahmet Tursun, Muhter, Memtjan Abdulla, Tursun Mehmnet, and Gulnisa Memet–as organizers, with Ahmet Tursun as the lead organizer. 

Another witness to the trial, a refugee in the Netherlands said he was the cellmate of one of the Salkin Website’s administrators while he was held in a detention center in Urumqi in August 2009. 

His cellmate told him at least 100 Salkin administrators were arrested from around the region in connection with the July 5 unrest.

In July, three webmasters, all members of the Uyghur ethnic minority, were sentenced to jail for publishing content deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government, according to a brother of one of the men.

The defendants were Dilshat Perhat, webmaster and owner of Diyarim; Nureli, webmaster of Salkin; and Nijat Azat, webmaster of Shabnam.

Dilmurat Perhat said his brother Dilshat Perhat received five years in prison, while Nureli and Nijat Azat received three years and 10 years, respectively, for “endangering state security.”

Millions of Uyghurs—a distinct, Turkic minority who are predominantly Muslim—populate Central Asia and the XUAR.

Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness despite China's ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern frontier.

Chinese authorities blame Uyghur separatists for a series of deadly attacks in recent years and accuse one group in particular of maintaining links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.