East Turkestan: China Frees Two Associates of Uyghur Exile
Kadeer, a Muslim, was one of China's highest profile political prisoners until she was freed in March and exiled to the United States.
A women's rights activist and former representative to the Chinese parliament's top advisory body, she had been jailed since mid-1999 for "illegally providing state intelligence abroad" after she sent newspaper clippings to her husband in the U.S.
Ruzi Mamat, company secretary for Kadeer's company, Kadeer Trade Centre, and Kadeer's former assistant Aysham Kerim were freed December 14 and allowed to return home, Kadeer told Radio Free Asia's Uighur service after speaking with sources in Urumqi.
"Both of them lost weight -- they looked like bags of bones," Radio Free Asia quoted Kadeer as saying. "Especially Aysham Kerim. She used to have hair down to her feet, and now she looks like a fleeced sheep."
Kadeer's children have been running the trading company in her absence. She said after her release that Chinese authorities had warned her not to speak to the media, reminding her that six of her 11 children remain in China.
Many of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, who make up a majority of Xinjiang's 19 million people, favour greater autonomy for the northwestern region. Beijing has waged a continuing campaign against what it calls violent separatist activities in the desert region.