Giornalista accusato di “attentato alla sicurezza dello Stato”

L’ Associazione Americana Uiguri (UAA) è estremamente preoccupata per l’imminente processo del giornalista e webmaster Gheyret Niyaz accusato di “mettere in pericolo la sicurezza dello Stato”

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The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is extremely concerned about the upcoming trial of Uyghur journalist and webmaster Gheyret Niyaz on charges of “endangering state security”. Police reportedly informed the 51-year-old Niyaz when he was initially detained in October 2009 that he was being detained because he had talked with foreign journalists about the unrest that took place in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan, the previous July. Niyaz, whose trial is scheduled to take place on July 28, is one of a number of Uyghur journalists, webmasters and bloggers to be detained in the wake of the July 2009 unrest. The owners and staff of many Uyghur websites were accused by the government of having promoted “separatism” or “splittism”.

UAA calls upon the Chinese government to release Niyaz and all Uyghurs who have been detained for the peaceful expression of ideas. In addition, UAA calls upon China to allow all interested members of Niyaz’s family, together with Western reporters and diplomats, to attend Niyaz’s trial. UAA believes the detention of Uyghur journalists, webmasters and bloggers contravenes guarantees regarding the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association contained in the Chinese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Overseas Uyghurs expressed great surprise upon learning of Niyaz’s detention in 2009, as he is widely regarded as holding views in support of the Chinese government. However, Niyaz had criticized regional economic inequalities and accused government officials of inappropriate actions in their efforts to fight Uyghur “separatism”.

In March 2010, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Niyaz was being held at the Heavenly Mountain District [Tianshan Qu] detention center in Urumchi, although his current whereabouts are uncertain. Prior to his 2009 arrest and detention, Niyaz, a native of Chochek(Ch: Tacheng), worked as a senior reporter for the Xinjiang Economic Daily and as an administrator for the website “Uighurbiz” (Uighur Online). Chinese officials accused Uighurbiz and other Uyghur-run websites, including Salkin and Diyarim, of inciting protests and violence on July 5, 2009 because in the days leading up to July 5, they had announced plans for the July 5 peaceful demonstration that took place at People’s Square. In a televised speech on July 6, 2009, regional chairman Nur Bekri specifically accused Uighurbiz of having been a catalyst for violence on July 5, which he said the website had helped to instigate by “spreading rumors”.

According to RFA, Niyaz’s wife received a notice on July 15 that she could seek the help of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti in securing a lawyer for Niyaz. Tohti, who founded the Uighurbiz website, told RFA that he subsequently found a lawyer who agreed to defend Niyaz, but then discovered that authorities had arranged for another lawyer, who was unknown to the family, to act as Niyaz’s attorney. RFA also reported that authorities told Niyaz’s family that only one person among Niyaz’s family and friends may attend his trial. In addition, RFA and Uighurbiz reported the existence of unconfirmed reports that Niyaz has already been secretly tried and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Research published by the rights organization Dui Hua on July 20 details an alarming rise in the number of trials concluded by Chinese courts involving charges of “endangering state security” (ESS), with first-instance trials rising to around 760 in 2009, compared to about 460 in 2008. Dui Hua researchers believe that the steep rise in ESS cases in 2009 was in large part due to trials for alleged “splittist” activities by Uyghurs and Tibetans. Dui Hua also noted that ESS trials in East Turkestan had increased by 63 percent in 2009 over the previous year, according to the president of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court. In addition, the organization reported that from 1998 to 2003, more than half of all ESS trials in China took place in East Turkestan, according to statistics published in the Xinjiang Yearbook.

Tohti, an economist and associate university professor well- known for voicing criticism of government policy in East Turkestan, was repeatedly detained and harassed throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010. In the latest incidence, in April 2010, Tohti was barred from traveling to Turkey to attend an academic conference.

On April 1, 2010, 32-year-old website administrator Gulmire Imin was sentenced to life in prison for the crimes of “revealing state secrets”, illegally organizing a demonstration, and “splittism”. Imin was sentenced on the same day as being tried in a closed trial. She was invited to become an administrator for the website Salkin after having published a number of poems on various Uyghur websites. Imin was arrested on July 14, 2009, but her family did not receive any official documents regarding her detention. Prior to her sentencing, Imin was forced to make false statements on state television about her actions and the actions of her husband, who lives in Norway. Her remarks were included in a CCTV 4 program regarding the July 5 unrest.

The founder of the website Salkin, who goes by the name Nureli, was also detained after July 5 and remains in detention, as do the following website staff and bloggers: Memet Turghun Abdulla, a photographer who published an article online about attacks against Uyghurs that took place in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, on June 26, 2009; Dilshat Parhat, who co-founded the website Diyarim; Obulkasim, an employee of Diyarim; and website supervisor Muhemmet. No reports have been made public regarding any charges filed against these individuals, and it is unclear where they are being held.

Three volunteer website supervisors – Muztagh, Lukchek, and Yanchukchi – were reportedly also detained after July 5, together with two women – Heyrinsa and Halnur – who were students at the Xinjiang Art Institute. It is unclear whether or not these individuals remain in detention.

Chinese authorities have been unequivocal in suppressing Uyghur voices that speak out against the rights abuses against the Uyghur people, even prior to the July 2009 unrest. Abdulghani Memetemin, a journalist, was imprisoned in 2003 for providing information about repression in East Turkestan, to an overseas Uyghur group. Teacher Abdulla Jamal was arrested in 2005 after he submitted a manuscript for publication that Chinese authorities claimed was separatist in intent.

The case of young Uyghur journalist Mehbube Ablesh exemplifies a pattern of egregious violations of Uyghurs’ freedom of expression. The 29-year-old Ablesh, who worked for the Xinjiang People’s Radio Station in Urumchi, was dismissed from her post in August 2008 and arrested after posting articles critical of the government online. No details regarding her whereabouts or any charges against her have been made public.

Government authorities shut down Internet access and cell phone communications region-wide in East Turkestan late at night on July 5, 2009, commencing the longest- running and most widespread shutdown in the history of the Internet, which was not lifted until May 2010. Overseas telephone calls and the transmission of cell phone text messages were also blocked after July 5. Following the reinstatement of Internet access in East Turkestan in May, a number of Uyghur websites remained blocked or shut down, and the region remained behind the “Great Firewall” instituted nation-wide that blocks access to websites authorities deem sensitive.

Regional and central authorities justified the post-July 5 communications blackout by saying they were implemented to “prevent further unrest”. Even amid official calls to re-open the Internet in March 2010, regional officials called for controls over the Internet to be tightened, in order not to be “used by criminals as a tool of communication”.

International groups such as Reporters Without Borders and the U.S. State Department expressed concern about the ongoing restrictions on the Internet in East Turkestan after July 5 and the persecution of Uyghurs for the peaceful expression of ideas or the transmission of information deemed “sensitive”. As noted by Reporters Without Borders, China today boasts the largest number of people imprisoned for freely expressing their views online, and regions such as Tibet and East Turkestan bear the full brunt of Internet censorship in China. Groups such as the PEN American Center denounced the Chinese government’s restrictions on Ilham Tohti’s freedom of speech and freedom to travel outside of China.

Fonte: Redazione, 21 luglio 2010

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