East Turkestan: Condemnation Over Sentencing Of Activist's Sons
The family of Rebiya Kadeer, a leading activist of
One son has just been sentenced to seven years in jail for tax evasion, another fined on the same charges, and a third is facing subversion charges. Kadeer and rights groups believe they are being punished because of their mother's work.
Kadeer knows what a jail term in
The one-time millionaire businesswoman said she was told when she was released that if she continues her activism for Uyghur rights her family and her businesses in
As it happens, she was elected on November 26 as the head of the German-based World Uyghur Congress at a meeting in
One day later came word of the sentencing of her two sons in the tax evasion case. In a statement, Kadeer said the treatment of her sons is part of the Chinese government's "vendetta" against her and, by extension, against any Uyghur who stands up to the authorities.
The president of the German-based
"This is political, the authorities are doing everything possible so that their mother suffers and thus refrains from political comment to the outside world," he said.
The London-based rights organization Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing. Amnesty's East Asia researcher, Corinna-Barbara Francis, says there is a pattern developing of threats and harrassment against the families of human rights activists in
"We [in Amnesty] have felt just recently that this has become a much more serious and pervasive phenomenon [in
She says the families of two other prominent Chinese rights activists -- the lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangcheng -- have also had intolerable pressure placed upon family members.
Francis says this is a very effective means of keeping people quiet. "We see this as a way of getting at the dissidents, at the activists, in a way that is not so prominent on the international stage; and it is very effective, because it is one thing for people to take risks for themselves, but when they put their family at risk...it's a terrible way to treat people," Francis said.
She says that
For instance, the Kadeer sons were charged with tax evasion rather than any political offense, and no one outside
Chinese officials were not immmediately available for comment. However, the Foreign Ministry recently denounced Rebiya Kadeer as a separatist who engaged in "splittist" activities. The ministry also condemned her nomination for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.