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RFA news
31-05-06, 14:00
Uyghur Activist's Children Detained, Held Under Close Watch in China

May 29, 2006: Rebiya Kadeer. Photo: RFA

WASHINGTON—Chinese police in Xinjiang briefly detained and are closely monitoring three children of exiled Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer in an apparent bid to keep them from meeting with a visiting U.S. congressional team, sources close to the family said.

At 6 p.m. on May 30, officers from the mainly Uyghur Nanguan precinct took Ablikim Abdurehim, Roshangul Abdurehim, and Alim Abdurehim—managing director of his family’s Akida Trading Co.—to the Nanguan station for questioning, the sources said.

Roshangul Abdurehim, contacted by RFA's Uyghur service at home in Urumqi, said a police officer named Aksar had warned her, "If you don't cooperate with us, we will destroy your family. You are all criminals."

Two days earlier, police had summoned Alim Abdurehim and asked him how he was preparing to receive a U.S. congressional team currently in China. “We are thinking of hosting a banquet to welcome them,” he replied.

“You cannot throw a banquet, and you cannot be in contact with them,” one officer replied, according to Uyghur sources, “or you will meet the same fate as your mother.”

The three remained in police custody for about six hours and were permitted to return to their respective homes at around midnight, each accompanied by three police officers who remained in their homes as of May 31, barring anyone from entering or leaving, the sources said.
A special police unit

The police units watched as each of the three carried out instructions to contact the American team and report that they had been allowed to return home, the sources said.

You cannot throw a banquet, and you cannot be in contact with them, or you will meet the same fate as your mother.

Nanguan precinct police officer, quoted by Uyghur sources

Alim Abdurehim last year indicated that police in Nanguan had formed a unit known as “the number 317 office, [or] Rebiya Kadeer investigation office.” Police who asked not to be identified confirmed his account.

A police officer contacted by telephone and asked about the detention of Kadeer's children said only, “I am not familiar with this event...I have nothing to say,” before hanging up. He declined to give his name.

In another possible annoyance to Chinese authorities, Kadeer, a self-made millionaire jailed for criticizing Beijing’s heavy-handed rule in mostly Uyghur Xinjiang, was elected president last week of the nonprofit Uyghur American Association.

She vowed to work for “human rights and religious freedom for the Uyghur people in East Turkestan,” the name many Uyghurs use to denote what Chinese calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
China's accusations

Kadeer was handed an eight-year jail term in 1999 en route to meet with a team of U.S. congressional researchers.

She was paroled and exiled to the United States in 2005, and she has said she was warned to keep her criticism of China to herself or her adult children still in Xinjiang “would be finished.”

Uyghur activists have for decades sought autonomy in what is now Xinjiang, which China formally annexed in 1955.

Chinese authorities have accused them of terrorism and blamed them for more than 260 terrorist acts in Xinjiang over the last 20 years in which 160 people have died and 440 have been injured.

But human rights groups say China has used its support for the U.S.-led war on terror to justify a wider crackdown on Uyghurs characterized by arbitrary arrests, closed trials and the use of the death penalty.

Original reporting in Uyghur by Jelil Mussa with additional reporting by David Beasley. Service director: Dolkun Kamberi. Edited and produced for the Web by Sarah Jackson-Han.

© 2006 Radio Free Asia