L’Associazione americana uiguri (UAA) deplora le sentenze di condanna al carcere di 19 uomini da parte della Corte Suprema nella città di Ghulja, in est Turkestan, accusati di “mettere a repentaglio la sicurezza dello Stato” in relazione ai fermenti che avevano preso piede nella capitale regionale di Urumchi il 5 luglio scorso.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns the convictions and prison sentences of 19 men in the city of Ghulja, in East Turkestan, on charges of “endangering state security”, in connection with the unrest that swept the regional capital of Urumchi on July 5, 2009.
According to an Yili (Ghulja) News Net report posted on October 23, 2009, the men were convicted and sentenced following an eight-hour trial on October 21 in the Yili (Ghulja) Kazakh Prefecture Branch of the XUAR Supreme Court. The eight names of the men convicted in the trial that were provided by state media indicated that the men were Uyghur, and UAA expects that, due to the nature of the charges, all 19 men convicted were Uyghur. The court heard that the men had planned to “protest illegally” in Ghulja after hearing about protests taking place in Urumchi. UAA urges extreme skepticism of the charges the men were found guilty of, in the absence of an open and fair trial, and in light of the documented persecution of Uyghurs who express peaceful dissent against state brutality.
As international human rights groups have noted, those subjected to trials in connection with the July 5 unrest in East Turkestan have been plagued by a lack of transparency and due process of law. As emphasized by the group Human Rights Watch in its recent report on post-July 5 detentions, there is no independent judiciary in China, and both prosecutors and judges in East Turkestan had received instructions from Party authorities regarding the handling of cases related to July 5. In addition, political criteria were used to select judicial personnel assigned to handle the trials.
“As China carries out an intense crackdown in cities throughout East Turkestan, and fails to account for the detention of thousands of Uyghurs, it lacks the credibility to convict Uyghurs for “endangering state security” without presenting any evidence to support such charges,” said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “Chinese authorities have charged Uyghurs with crimes for simply exercising their free speech and religious beliefs, and for participating in religious gatherings. It remains a distinct possibility that these men were prosecuted and convicted based on attending peaceful religious meetings and planning to engage in peaceful protest activities. China must be forthcoming and transparent in legal and judicial proceedings against Uyghurs.”
During the October 21 trial, Ghayrat Mollayasin and 18 other defendants were convicted of state security crimes. The court convicted Mollayasin to life in prison and stripped him of his political rights for life. Abbas Zunun, Abaydullam Tohti, and Abdulla Ibrahim were each sentenced to 15 years in prison and stripped of their political rights for five years, while the rest of the defendants were given sentences ranging from three to 14 years and stripped of their political rights. According to prosecutors, Mollayasin and Zunun were the main organizers of a group that met from April 2008 to June 2009. Prosecutors told the court that Mollayasin planned on July 5 for the organization to protest illegally in Ghulja after hearing about protest activities that took place that day in Urumchi, but that upon seeing the intense level of security present in the city on July 6, he abandoned his plan.
Prosecutors also accused Mollayasin and Zunun of discouraging group members from worshipping at mosques and encouraging them to worship in private homes. In addition, prosecutors charged that the group went by the name “Jiamaiti”. However, UAA questions the nature of this claim, as “Jiamaiti” appears to simply refer to the Uyghur word for “community”.
It is unclear to what extent demonstrations may have taken place in the city of Ghulja on July 5 and subsequent days, but reports indicate that authorities had deployed armed vehicles and other tight security measures in Ghulja in the wake of the July 5 unrest in Urumchi. The Chinese government implemented a heavy-handed security crackdown after July 5, which particularly targeted the predominantly Uyghur cities of Ghulja, Kashgar and Hotan. The crackdown appears to have been aimed at preventing potential protests in these cities against the government brutality in Urumchi.
In addition to the four men mentioned above, the court accused Alim Kerimhaji of hosting the organization’s meeting on July 5. Ekram Osman and Abaydullam Tohti were accused of involvement in obtaining clocks toward the use of making explosives for the group.
Accused group member Abdulla Ibrahim was convicted of the crime of “splitting the state” and of intentionally causing injury to another person. Ekrem Tursunjan was convicted of theft after allegedly stealing 21 mobile phones and 100 yuan in cash, and Nurmemet Sultan was accused of harboring criminals.
Other individuals associated with the group were convicted of the crimes of splittism, inciting splittism, and committing intentional injury to another person.
UAA strongly protests the verdicts handed down earlier this month to 21 men sentenced in connection with the July 5 unrest in Urumchi, out of concern that they faced highly politicized trials that did not adhere to standards of either domestic or international law. UAA condemns all acts of violence that were committed by civilians and security forces on July 5 and subsequent days and weeks, but objects strongly to the lack of due process in the prosecution of alleged crimes related to the unrest in Urumchi.
On October 12, the Intermediate People’s Court of Urumchi sentenced six Uyghur defendants to death on charges of murder and other crimes they were alleged to have committed during the July 5 unrest. A seventh man, Tayirjan Ablimit (Tayirejan Abulimit in Chinese pinyin), was sentenced to life in prison on charges of murder and robbery. On October 14, another 14 men (12 Uyghurs and two Han Chinese men) were tried and sentenced in Urumchi on charges of murder and other crimes related to the unrest. Six of these (five Uyghurs and one Han Chinese man) were sentenced to death, three of them with a two-year reprieve, while others were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. None of the trials were publicly announced beforehand, and all were conducted in less than one day.
On October 27, an official Chinese report stated that three of the men sentenced to death had decided not to appeal their verdicts. The report also indicated that seven of the defendants in the two Urumchi trials had asked family members of their victims for forgiveness. However, UAA urges skepticism with regard to such claims, against a backdrop in which detained and imprisoned Uyghurs are frequently subjected to torture and forced confessions at the hands of the police and judiciary. Uyghurs sentenced on criminal charges are rarely allowed to appeal their verdicts to higher courts, and Uyghur criminal defendants are consistently been denied the right to freely choose their own lawyer.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture, and to support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.
The UAA has undertaken the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) for the purpose of promoting improved human rights conditions for Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in East Turkestan, on the premise that the assurance of basic human rights will facilitate the realization of the community’s democratic aspirations.