Nov 16, 2017

UNPO Roundly Condemns Detention of Thirty Members of Uyghur Leader’s Family by Chinese Authorities

Around 30 relatives of Uyghur leader and prominent human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer have been arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities in East Turkestan, soon after her participation in the launch of the Uyghur Friendship Group at the European Parliament. UNPO calls for the immediate release of all family members of Ms Kadeer and condemns the systematic persecution and the rampant use of human rights abuses against the Uyghur people of East Turkestan.

According to various confirmed reports, around 30 relatives of exiled Uyghur leader and prominent human rights activist, Rebiya Kadeer have been arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities in East Turkestan, soon after the UNPO-facilitated launch of the Uyghur Friendship Group in the European Parliament on 19 October 2017. Apparently, these recent arrests of her relatives are a reprisal for the establishment of the Friendship Group and Ms Kadeer’s participation in the launch event during which she gave opening remarks on behalf of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).

The purpose of the Uyghur Friendship Group is to act as a platform for dialogue and engagement between the Uyghur People and the European Parliament, regarding the human rights abuses of the Chinese Government against the Uyghur people. The Friendship Group strengthens the relationship between the European Parliament and the Uyghur community, and allows the opportunity for activities (such as seminars, hearings and meetings) to be organised on the plight of the Uyghur people.  The establishment of the Uyghur Friendship Group is therefore an act of solidarity between Members of the European Parliament and the Uyghurs of East Turkestan and beyond.

Ms Kadeer is the former President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and was once herself a political prisoner in China, between 1999 to 2005, before her exile to the United States. Radio Free Asia reports that the Chinese authorities have continued to target Ms Kadeer’s family since 1999, including 24/7 surveillance and “virtual house arrest” since Ms Kadeer’s exile. In 2006, all three of Ms Kadeer’s sons were arrested and given immense fines amounting to millions of dollars or prison sentences for “tax evasion” the day after she was elected as President of the WUC. It is presumed that the relatives who had been arrested most recently are currently being held at one of the regions many detention facilities, referred to as “education and transformation centres”, and are at risk of torture. Tragically, the arrest of Ms Kadeer’s closest family is but one of many similar cases. They come after thousands of other Uyghur people across the region have been arbitrarily detained, signifying a new crackdown on Uyghur communities by the Chinese authorities.

UNPO calls for the release of all 30 family members of Ms Kadeer. Those detained include her sons, sisters, brothers, grandchildren and extended relatives. Among those arrested are Ablikim Abudureyim, Ms Kadeer’s son, who previous served 12 years in prison in retaliation for his mother’s human rights advocacy. It is believed that Mr Abudureyim was repeatedly tortured during this time. Ms Kadeer’s other sons, Alim and Kahar Abdureyim, have also been arrested.

UNPO roundly condemns the arrests of Ms Kadeer’s relatives and the continued persecution and human rights abuses suffered by the Uyghur people by the Chinese government. These arrests further demonstrate the need for international solidarity and awareness raising of the Uyghur plight and for the international community to put more pressure on China to end these human rights abuses.