May 19, 2005

East Turkestan: Police Raid Forces Uyghur Dissident's Son Into Hiding

A son of Chinas exiled Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer has gone into hiding after police raided his workplace and arrested two of his colleagues
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A son of China’s exiled Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer has gone into hiding after police raided his workplace and arrested two of his colleagues, RFA’s Uyghur service has learned.

U.S.-based members of the Kadeer family said in interviews that Ablikim Abdiriyim, 34 and an employee of his mother’s Akida Trading Co., was now in hiding, after a police raid May 11 on his offices.

Relatives who asked not to be named said Kadeer had eluded police and remains incommunicado and in hiding to avoid arrest. They declined to give further details.

Akida Trading Co. director Aysham Kerim, 34, along with her assistant, Ruzi Mamat, 25, were arrested during the raid, sources said. Witnesses said Aysham Kerim, the mother of a seven-month-old infant, was dragged by her hair into a police car.

Two days later, on May 13, more than 100 police raided the firm, taking 15 large bags full of documents, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch quoted witnesses as saying.

Other sources said they had also opened the company safe and removed 35,000 yuan (about U.S. $6,000) in cash, saying the company was suspected of tax fraud, sources said.

‘They’re just employees’

One Urumqi police officer, contacted by telephone, confirmed the arrests but refused to answer further questions and demanded to know how RFA had learned of the raid.

Kadeer’s husband, Virgina-based Sidik Haji Rouzi, described Aysham Kerim and Ruzi Mamat as uninterested in politics.

“These guys are just employees of the company—they’re not involved in politics. They’re just loyal to the company, to Rebiya Kadeer, and to the Uyghur people,” he said. “They are close to Rebiya Kadeer’s family.”

Kadeer herself said the raid and arrests appears to fit a pattern. “After I gave an interview to Norwegian television and criticized China, a few hours later the Chinese authorities arrested my employees,” she said, without giving the date of the interview.

“It looks like if they want to get to me, to get revenge, by arresting innocent people, my loyal employees. I urge the Chinese government not to violate [their] human rights…[and] immediately release Aysham Kerim and Ruzi Mamat,” she said.

“If they don’t, I will speak out everywhere. They had better let them go.”

Human Rights Watch also said police detained and beat up a friend of Ablikim Abdiriyim after he denied knowing anything about Ablikim’s location.

Kadeer’s children threatened

He was released two hours later “after signing a statement that he would never again associate with members of Rebiya Kadeer’s family and would never go near the company’s premises,” Human Rights Watch said.

In a March 28 interview, Kadeer—one of China’s most famous political prisoners—said Chinese guards had warned her that the five grown children she was about to leave behind in China would be “finished” if she revealed sensitive information or associated with Uyghur separatists in exile.

“Three days before I was released, eight or nine guards came to see me,” she said. “They told me not to associate with Uyghurs here, not to associate with Uyghur separatists, not to reveal sensitive information from inside Xinjiang. ‘If you do so,’ they said, ‘your businesses and your children will be finished.’”

Kadeer quoted the guards as using the colloquial Mandarin word wandan, meaning “to finish or put an end to” something.

Kadeer was freed in March ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She had been in jail since mid-1999 for “illegally providing state intelligence abroad.”

Attacking her legacy

She served five-1/2 years of her eight-year sentence before she was released on medical parole and permitted to join her husband in exile in the United States. Six of her 11 children remain in China.

“The Chinese government doesn’t seem content to have forced Rebiya Kadeer into exile after keeping her in jail for years,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “It looks as if the Chinese government is intent on ruining any legacy she may have left behind by destroying her business and silencing her children.”

Many of the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs—who account for most of Xinjiang’s 19 million people—want more autonomy for the northwestern region. Beijing has waged a continuing campaign against what it calls violent separatist activities in Xinjiang.