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China 20 April 2007

Member of uighur minority sentenced to nine years in jail for trying to post “secessionist” articles

A court in Xingjian, north-west China has sentenced Ablikim Abdiriyim, the son of renowned Uigar activist, Rebiya Kadeer, to nine years in prison for posting “secessionist” articles online, in what Reporters Without Borders called a “travesty of a trial”.

China’s official Xinhua news agency reported that the 17 April verdict indicated that the young activist had sent the offending articles to the webmaster of the Uighur service of Yahoo.com. However the US-run company does not have any content in that language.

Abdiriyim, the third child of Rebiya Kadeer, who is living in exile in the United States, had “only expressed his opinion online”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The harshness of the sentence is disgraceful and is typical of the brutal repression suffered by the Uighur minority in China,” it added.

The organisation contacted a member of the Yahoo! management on 18 April, who undertook to open an immediate inquiry into the case.

According to Xinhua, Abdiriyim was charged with trying to post two articles: “Struggle toward independence” and “Issues to be aware of and prohibited in Jihad”, which he had downloaded from the Internet. It said that according to the verdict, these articles “distorted China’s human rights and ethnic policies”.

The offending articles were then sent to the webmaster of the Uighur service of Yahoo.com, the government-controlled news agency reported.

Alaim Seytoff, who is close to the young activist’s mother, told Reporters Without Borders, “Yahoo! does not have pages in Uighur. We do not know anything about these articles and this case appears to us to be completely trumped-up.

“Since his arrest, in June 2006, no-one has been able to see Ablikim and we have had no access to the charge sheet. It is possible that these articles do not even exist and that the Chinese authorities are simply trying to justify an unfair conviction. The sentence has one clear objective: to silence Rebiya Kadeer and stop him from carrying on any political activity.”


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