Feb 09, 2007

East Turkestan: Execution Sparks Concern

The World Uyghur Congress expresses its sincere concern over the recent execution of Uyghur activist Ismail Semed.

Below is an article published by the World Uyghur Congress:

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) expresses its deep concern over the execution of Ismail Semed, who was convicted nearly two years ago for "attempting to split the motherland." Mr. Semed was executed on February 8th around 9:00 a.m. in Urumchi.

"I am really concerned with Semed's execution because the Chinese authorities did not present credible evidence to convict him. His trial, like most Uyghur political prisoners' trials, was not fair," said Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, President of WUC.

According to Amnesty International (AI), Ismail Semed was convicted by the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court on October 31, 2005 for "attempting to split the motherland" and other charges related to possession of firearms and explosives. AI says, the possession of firearms charges against Ismail Semed appear to have been based on old testimonies taken from other Uyghurs, some of whom were reportedly executed in 1999. It is possible that their testimonies may have been extracted through torture.

AI states that the charge of "splittism" was based on second-hand testimony, which stated that Ismail Semed was a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and attended one ETIM meeting in 1997 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It continues to say that his alleged membership of ETIM and attendance at that meeting have reportedly been disputed by people who were present at the meeting. The Chinese authorities claimed ETIM was a terrorist organization, and was able to lobby U.S. in 2002 to put it on its list.

Sources close to WUC say, the Chinese authorities allowed Ismail Semed's wife Buhajar and two children to see him one day before the execution. During the brief meeting, Semed told his wife that he was tortured to confess and all the charges brought against him were false. Semed reportedly told his wife that he was studying law in Pakistan when he was arrested by the Pakistani police and later extradited to China in 2003.

Ismail Semed fled China for Pakistan following a demonstration in February 1997 in Ghulja. During and after this demonstration, the Chinese security forces killed hundreds of Uyghurs and arrested thousands. According to AI, more than 200 Uyghurs were executed by the Chinese government from February 1997 until it issued a special report on the gross human rights violations of the Uyghur people in April 1999, in addition to those Uyghurs killed in the demonstration.