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East Turkestan: Uyghurs Swept Up in Mass Detentions

August 6, 2009

August 5, 2009

Active ImageThe Uyghur American Association (UAA)
is concerned over news in the Chinese media and
believes that the actual number of people
arrested is much higher than the official figures.

Below is a press release published by Uyghur American Association:

Uyghurs swept up in mass detentions as Chinese government steps up rhetoric

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is
concerned over news in the official Chinese media
that 319 more individuals have been arrested in
Urumchi in relation to unrest that occurred on
July 5 [2009]. The news, following reports of the
arrest of another 253 people and the issuance of
a “most wanted” list on July 30, [2009] indicate
that Chinese authorities are moving swiftly to
crack down on Uyghurs and carry out highly politicized trials.

Chinese official media announced on July 31
[2009] that trials for some of the people
arrested since July 5 [2009] would be held in the
coming weeks. Official reports that 319 people
were detained recently in Urumchi, adding to the
253 individuals who were detained on July 30
[2009], bring the official toll of those arrested to more than 2,000 people.

Based on independent eyewitness accounts and
international media reports, UAA believes that
the actual number of people arrested is much
higher than the official figures. The Telegraph
newspaper reported on July 31 [2009] that Uyghur
residents of Urumchi have described armed police
going from house to house and taking away all
males under the age of 50. A July 19 [2009]
Financial Times report stated that more than
4,000 Uyghurs had been arrested and that
Urumchi’s prisons were so full that detainees
were being held in People’s Liberation Army
warehouses. UAA fears that these detainees face
execution in non-transparent judicial procedures.

"Detentions of Uyghurs are clearly being carried
out in violation of the law," said Uyghur
democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “According to the
family members of many of those detained, they
are not told where their loved ones are being
taken, or on what charges. Urumchi police are
simply taking Uyghurs away- particularly young
Uyghurs, to the point that there are almost no
Uyghur youths left on the streets of the city.”

UAA calls upon the Chinese government to provide
information about those detained in relation to
the unrest in Urumchi, including where they are
being detained and the reason for their
detention, as required by Chinese law. Chinese
law stipulates that a family member or work unit
of a detained individual must be informed of the
reason for their detention and the location of their detention.

According to the China Daily, the suspects
accused of carrying out violence in Urumchi will
be appointed lawyers who have “special training”.
However, human rights groups have consistently
raised concerns over the lack of an independent
judiciary and the prevalence of torture in East Turkestan.

Uyghurs in government custody frequently suffer
from physical abuse and other maltreatment. In
late 2005, after making his first visit to China,
during which he visited prisons in Urumchi,
Lhasa, and Beijing, Manfred Nowak, the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, confirmed
that “torture was widespread” in China,
especially in East Turkestan and Tibet. No
effective mechanisms have been initiated in China
to curb the practice of torture within East Turkestan.

"Most wanted" list

On July 30[2009], police in Urumchi issued a list
of 15 fugitives labeled as suspects in the
unrest, together with their photos. Fourteen of
the suspects appear to be Uyghur, and one appears
to be Han Chinese. According to official Chinese
media, police said that those who turned
themselves in within 10 days would be treated
leniently, while those who did not would be “punished severely”.

UAA is extremely concerned about the credibility
of the Chinese government’s accusations against
15 people on the “most wanted list”. It is
unclear at present what specific criminal charges
have been made against the individuals on the
list. UAA fears that all 15 individuals will face
a lack of due process according to the law, and may be subject to execution.

Urumchi Communist Party Secretary Li Zhi has
indicated the planned use of capital punishment
against those convicted of the most serious
offenses. “To those who have committed crimes
with cruel means, we will execute them,” Li told
a news conference on July 8 [2009].
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