China: another Uighur dissident imprisoned

Canada has officially protested the sentencing a Canadian Uighur rights activist to life imprisonment in his native China. Huseyincan Celil was convicted on charges of “splitting the motherland” and participating in terrorist groups. Celil, who was born in China’s Xinkiang autonomous region but won Canadian citizenship as a political refugee, was arrested in Uzbekistan and deported to China last May. Canadian officials have since been trying to gain access to him, and are angry that he had to appear at his trial—in the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court in Xinkiang—without a Canadian diplomat present. Canada also said it was concerned about claims that Celil had been tortured.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay is due to visit China later this month, and he has made clear that he will raise the Celil affair during talks. “We don’t intend to let this case go,” he said. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: “The case of Huseyincan Celil is an internal affair, and Canada has no right to interfere.” (BBC, April 20)

See our last posts on China and the Uighur struggle.