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Burkut
13-10-08, 16:42
RAPID ACTION NETWORK
8 October 2008
RAN 52/08

CHINA: Uyghur journalist and writer detained.

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously concerned about
the detention of Uyghur journalist and poet Mehbube Ablesh (f), who was arrested in
August 2008 after posting two critical articles online. International PEN seeks
details of any charges against her, and calls for her immediate and unconditional
release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to PEN’s information, journalist and poet Mehbube Ablesh, aged
twenty-nine, worked for the Xinjiang People’s Radio Station, a government-run
station based in the provincial capital Urumqi, until she was dismissed from her
post in early August 2008 and arrested after posting critical articles online. It is
thought that she is held for posting articles critical of Chinese government policy
and the provincial leadership in Xinjiang Autonomous Region. She is believed to be
held in Urumqi, and no details of any charges have been made public.

The Xinjiang Autonomous Region in north-west China is home to many Muslim Uyghurs, a
Turkic-speaking ethnic group, some of whom have waged a low-level separatist
struggle for independence from Chinese rule for decades. It is widely believed that
the Chinese government has exaggerated the alleged terrorist threat in the region to
suppress peaceful political and cultural expression. According to Human Rights
Watch,

Much like Tibetans, the Uighurs in Xinjiang, have struggled for cultural survival in
the face of a government-supported influx by Chinese migrants, as well as harsh
repression of political dissent and any expression, however lawful or peaceful, of
their distinct identity. Some have also resorted to violence in a struggle for
independence. Chinese authorities have not discriminated between peaceful and
violent dissent, however, and their fight against "separatism" and "religious
extremism" has been used to justify widespread and systematic human rights
violations against Uighurs, including many involved in non-violent political,
religious, and cultural activities.

Writers and journalists are amongst those at particular risk of arrest in the region
for speaking out, and the government crackdown on peaceful dissent intensified in
the run-up to the Olympic Games and throughout the month of Rammadan.

Please send appeals:


Expressing serious concern about the detention of Uyghur journalist and poet Mehbube
Ablesh, apparently for publishing two critical articles online, and seeking details
of any charges against her;


Calling for her immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article
19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a
signatory.


Seeking assurances that she is granted full access to her family and legal
representation, and is treated humanely in detention.


The WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country
asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

Government addresses:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China.

Chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional People's Government
Nur Bekri
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
2 Zhongshanlu
Wulumuqishi 830041
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China.
Please note that fax numbers are not available for the Chinese authorities, so you
may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China in your country to forward
your appeals.

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if
possible.

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 1 November
2008**

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in
Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER,