Rebiya Kadeer’s son tortured in detention

For immediate release
June 23, 2006, 15:00 EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 349 1496

(Washington, DC.) The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has learned that Alim Abdureyim, one of Rebiya Kadeer’s sons arrested by Chinese police, has been tortured in detention. UHRP is not aware of the extent or nature of any injuries Mr Abdureyim may have sustained, but the organization is extremely concerned that he may be in need of urgent medical attention, and is at risk of further abuse.

Mr Abdureyim is currently being held in Tianshan District police station in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Both of his brothers, who were also arrested at the same time as Alim, are also being held at the same station.

“It’s not a surprise that the Chinese police are torturing Mr Abdureyim – anyone who knows anything about the Chinese police won’t be surprised by this news,” said Alim Seytoff, Director of UHRP. “But it’s still deeply distressing news for Ms Kadeer and the rest of us, and we demand Mr Abdureyim be released and given immediate access to medical attention.”

UHRP has also learned that Chinese police throughout East Turkistan have been detaining and interrogating large numbers of people who have had contact with Ms Kadeer’s children over the years, apparently to try and gather evidence to be used against them. A reliable source claimed that he himself was detained by police as he stepped from a train in Urumchi, and was interrogated for around two hours.

Alim and Ablikim Abdureyim were detained by police in late May along with their sister Rushangul, apparently to stop them meeting with a US congressional delegation visiting Urumchi at the time. On June 1, both brothers were beaten by police in front of their children and in front of Rushangul, who was given a cell phone and told to call Ms Kadeer in the United States and tell her what was happening. Ablikim was beaten unconscious and was hospitalized; Rushangul was later also taken to hospital to be treated for symptoms related to stress and shock.

Alim and Ablikim were formally arrested on June 13 along with their elder brother Kahar, who was driven 200 miles from his home in Aksu south east of Urumchi in manacles and chained to the floor of a minibus. Rushangul has been placed under a form of house arrest, with seven police officers stationed in her home. Ms Kadeer’s brother, Mamat, is also under house arrest.

Alim Abdureyim, who was in charge of the family business, has been formally charged with tax evasion, as has Kahar. Although Kahar withdrew from the family business several years ago because of the almost constant harassment from the Chinese authorities, he had established his own successful business in Aksu. Tax evasion carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years under Chinese law, and also carries system of fines.

Police raided the Kadeer family business’ offices in May 2005, removing all of the company’s documents and paperwork. There are concerns, therefore, that the sons will be unable to present an adequate defense against the charges to prove their innocence without full access to the evidence in its original condition.

Alim and Ablikim have also been charged with the potentially far more serious crimes of “splitting the state” and “subverting state power” respectively, although it is not yet clear what they have specifically been accused of doing to give rise to these charges. If convicted, these charges carry a prison term of at least 10 years, and potentially the death sentence.

The Chinese authorities regularly claim that sensitive political cases such as this involve “state secrets”, which under Chinese law allows for suspects to be denied access to lawyers and family members for the entire duration of their prosecution.

It is not yet clear whether the Chinese authorities intend to use this mechanism to bar external scrutiny of the case against Alim and Ablikim Abdureyim as a result of the political charges against them, but it would seem unlikely that they could invoke “state secrets” in the case against Kahar, who has been charged only with tax evasion.

“UHRP – as well as contacts in the US State Department and elsewhere in the world – intends to continue following the sons’ case as closely as possible, with or without the ‘state secrets’ and hopefully without spurring the Chinese authorities into further acts of brutality,” said Alim Seytoff, Director of UHRP.

In a related development, members of the US House of Representatives are being encouraged to sign a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter protesting the Chinese authorities’ treatment of Ms Rebiya Kadeer’s children. The letter was initiated by Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and Congressman Tom Lantos, co-Chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter urges members of Congress to protest in the strongest terms to the Chinese authorities, and adds: “This behavior is unacceptable for a country which has called the nations of this world to come together in Beijing in the spirit of friendship and peace for the 2008 Olympics.”

See also:

June 14, 2006: Breaking news: Following detentions, formal charges brought against Ms Kadeer’s sons

June 1, 2006: Rebiya Kadeer’s adult children severely beaten in front of her grandchildren

May 30, 2006: Three of Rebiya Kadeer’s children detained as US Congressional team arrive in Urumchi