China: dissent over imprisonment of Uighur cyber-activists

China has jailed three Uighur website operators as it clamps down on dissent a year after deadly ethnic riots in Xinjiang, according to reports. An exiled activist group, the Uyghur American Association (UAA), said the three men were sentenced to 10, five and three years respectively. They were identified as Dilshat Perhat, webmaster of Diyarim website; Nureli of Salkin website; and Nijat Azat, of Shabnam. The websites, among the most popular in the Uighur language, were blocked by the Chinese authorities last year. UAA quoted a brother of one of the men saying they were sentenced last week. Officials have not confirmed the charges or the sentences. (BBC News, July 30)

The UAA also issued a statement commending a group of Chinese lawyers and scholars for issuing a letter July 30 expressing concern about the 15-year sentence handed down recently to Uyghur blogger Gheyret Niyaz on charges of “endangering state security”. The letter, entitled “Respect Freedom of Expression, Release Xinjiang Journalist Hailaite Niyazi,” is being circulated in Chinese and English.

The letter, which has been signed by scholar and author Wang Lixiong, scholar Mao Yushi, and scholar Cui Weiping, among others, points out that Niyaz had written online essays in Chinese, and that he had “gradually built a wide following among China’s netizens.” The letter also describes Niyaz as having “promoted increasing mutual understanding between Uyghurs and Han” and goes on to state that “this kind of intellectual is extremely important in advancing communication and reconciliation between ethnic groups.”

See our last posts on the cyber-crackdown in China, the global politics of cyberspace, and the Uighurs.

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