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China: Uighur Writer Detained

Article Link
Published: October 9, 2008

English PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Uighur journalist and poet Mehbube Ablesh, who was arrested in August 2008 after posting two critical articles online. We are seeking details of any charges against her, and are calling for her immediate and unconditional release if she is being 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 Uighurs, 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.

For more information on Uighur rights and writers, please click here.

Please send appeals:
• Expressing serious concern about the detention of Uighur 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.

Appeals to:

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:

Her Excellency Mrs. Fu Ying
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
49 - 51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL
Celil allowed to meet with mother, sister - (Oct 13 2008)

US Court of Appeals blocks release of Guantánamo Uighurs as government resorts to ‘scare tactics’ - (10 October 2008)

2 Chinese Policemen Killed, 7 Wounded in Xinjiang - ( 8/28/2008 )

Two police die in Xinjiang clash - ( 8/28/2008 )

US disappointed Olympics didn't open China more - ( 8/24/2008 )

Uyghurs stand up to China over East Turkistan - ( 8/18/2008 )

Few answers in violence-hit Xinjiang - ( 8/16/2008 )
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