Apr 11, 2007

East Turkestan: Kadeers Son Persecuted

Since the release of Ms. Kadeer, she has asked for an end to the process of implementing fines against the family and her oldest son, who is forced to head Working Group on fines against Kadeer family.

Below is an article by Uyghur American Association:

According to information received by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), a Working Group has been established to oversee the liquidation of the business assets of Rebiya Kadeer’s family in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkistan (otherwise known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China). Provincial and local authorities reportedly put Kahar Abdureyim, the oldest son of Ms. Kadeer, in charge of the group and ordered him to organize all operational arrangements for its 30 members. They warned that if he did not cooperate, he would be arrested, and that Kadeer family members who speak out against the property confiscation process will face legal punishment.

“There is simply no legal or moral justification to compel my son Kahar, who has not been involved in our family’s business activities, to carry out these responsibilities,” said Ms. Kadeer, president of the Uyghur American Association (UAA). “It seems obvious that PRC authorities hope to find an excuse to arrest him.”

The first public information about the start of the liquidation process came on April 2, when notices issued by the Working Group were posted on and around the Kadeer family’s business properties in Urumchi. The notices announced that the approximately RMB 22 million dollars (USD 2.8 million) in fines levied against the Kadeer businesses were to be collected and the properties involved were to be confiscated in accordance with last November’s legal ruling by the Tianshan District Court in Urumchi. According to the notices, the Kadeer family had evaded taxes or delayed tax payments, and had hidden financial assets. The posted notices warned that those found tearing down the notices would be punished according to the law. 

All members of the Kadeer family in Urumchi have been ordered to submit to public security and court authorities a list of their possessions, including even small articles for daily use.

It has been learned that the Working Group is also reopening cases against the Kadeer family dating back to 1987. The cases involve alleged evasion of fees owed to government entities, such as the real estate bureau, and alleged inadequate compensation paid to those relocated to make room for construction of the Kadeer business properties.

In addition to issuing fines in these cases, government authorities are asking the Kadeer family to pay compensation equal to today’s property value to relocated individuals. These fines and compensation payments are being levied in addition to the RMB 22 million yuan in fines that are also being levied against the Kadeer businesses.

One of Kahar’s responsibilities, under the threat of arrest, is to certify that these government fines and compensation payments have been assessed accurately and are justified. It appears likely that Kahar is being used to legitimize the implementation of fines against the Kadeer family.

In May 2005, PRC authorities confiscated all of the financial records and documents belonging to the Kadeer family, as part of their “investigations” into allegations of financial wrongdoing. Without these financial records, it remains nearly impossible for the members of Ms. Kadeer’s family to defend themselves. 

“We ask for an end to the process of implementing fines against our family, until such time as a family representative is given access to our records,” said Ms. Kadeer. 

The Working Group has reportedly stated that it will announce its decision regarding the implementation of all fines and payments on May 2, after all of the Kadeer family business assets have been registered and assessed.

“PRC authorities clearly want to seize every last scrap of my family’s property in Urumchi,” said Ms. Kadeer. “However, no matter what they do to my family or to me, we will maintain our dignity and the knowledge that the criminal allegations against us are false.”

Beijing’s strategy

Ms. Kadeer spent nearly six years as a political prisoner in East Turkistan, after being arrested on her way to meet with a US Congressional Research Service delegation in 1999. Since her release in March 2005, Beijing has consistently used allegations of financial crimes against her family’s businesses in order to retaliate against her human rights activism, apparently in an attempt to undermine the international concern that commonly arises around cases of political persecution.

In November 2006, after being detained for nearly six months, Kahar and Alim Abdureyim were both sentenced on charges of tax evasion. Kahar was fined RMB 100,000 (USD 12,500) but not sentenced to prison. His brother Alim was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined RMB 500,000 (USD 62,500). According to earlier reports, Alim was originally charged with “attempting to split the state,” in addition to tax evasion, but the former charge was later apparently dropped.

Another of Ms. Kadeer’s sons, Ablikim Abdureyim, has reportedly been secretly tried on subversion charges. Ms. Kadeer’s family fears that Ablikim urgently needs medical treatment for conditions he developed as a result of a severe beating when he was first detained last year and torture he has suffered during his detention. However, no family member has been permitted to visit Ablikim since his initial detention, and they have received no official information regarding his current whereabouts or the exact nature of the charges or sentence against him. Ms. Kadeer continues to ask for family members to be granted access to Ablikim to ensure that he is receiving adequate medical treatment.

Pattern of persecution

In addition to the persecution of Ms. Kadeer’s sons and other family members, employees of the family’s businesses have been detained, harassed or otherwise persecuted. In 2005, authorities detained two employees, Ms. Kadeer’s former assistant Aysham Kerim and company secretary Ruzi Mamat, for seven months without charges.

Instances of the detention, torture, and sentencing of Ms. Kadeer’s family members have followed her election to positions of leadership in the World Uyghur Congress and in the Uyghur American Association. This linkage coincides with the warnings PRC officials gave to Ms. Kadeer, as she left the PRC for the United States in March 2005, not to speak publicly about “sensitive issues” after her release, or her “businesses and children would be finished.”

“From their most recent actions, Chinese officials apparently want to discourage not only my family members and employees, but all Uyghurs, from speaking out on behalf of fundamental human rights in East Turkistan,” said Ms. Kadeer. “They hope that by crushing my family and my family’s businesses, they will extinguish any hope that Uyghurs have for a better life. However, what they don’t seem to realize is that no matter how many Uyghurs they imprison or how many businesses they shut down, they cannot diminish our aspirations for human rights and an end to the brutal repression we suffer.”