Uyghur Journalist Handed Life Term
A Uyghur journalist working for an official Chinese
radio service has been sentenced to life in prison
following a secret trial conducted earlier this year,
according to a letter sent by a friend to Radio Free
Memetjan Abdulla, an editor for the Uyghur service of
China National Radio, was sentenced in April in a closed
trial in Urumqi, capital of China’s northwestern
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the letter said.
Authorities had charged Abdulla with helping to
instigate deadly ethnic rioting in Urumqi in July 2009
following Uyghur protests at the beating deaths of
Uyghur factory workers in the eastern Chinese city of
Abdulla had translated a call for the protests issued by
the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress and published on
a Chinese website, authorities charged, and had then
reposted the call on the Uyghur website Salkin.
The July 5 violence, which according to eyewitnesses
followed initially peaceful Uyghur protests, left some
200 ethnic Uyghurs and Han Chinese dead, according to
Chinese government count.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a man who was
present at Abdulla’s trial said that official anger at
Abdulla had resulted in the severity of his sentence,
according to the letter received by RFA.
“Memetjan answered the questions of foreign journalists
in Beijing about Uyghur reactions to the June 26
Shaoguan incident,” the man said. “Plus, he translated
many sensitive articles that were published on the
Sentenced at the same time as Abdulla was Gulmire Imin,
also accused of instigating the riots, according to the
letter sent to RFA.
China National Radio personnel, reached for comment,
avoided reporters’ questions and referred enquiries to
Meanwhile, an officer of the Urumqi Intermediate Court,
said, “You should send us a request by letter with an
official seal on it, and we can then help you search the
Another court staff member said, “I don’t know about his
case. You should ask someone else.”
Memetjan Abdulla was born in 1977 and grew up in Karamay
City in Xinjiang, his friend said in the letter sent to
He graduated in 2001 from the University of Broadcast
and Information in Beijing and worked for eight years as
a broadcaster and editor at the Uyghur service of China
In his free time, the letter said, Abdulla worked as a
manager for the Uyghur-language Salkin website.
He was arrested two months after the July 2009 riots in
Urumqi, according to the letter sent to RFA.
Tensions between the mainly-Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang
and China’s dominant ethnic Han have been growing in
recent years. Millions of Han have moved to the region
in recent decades.
Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic
discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and
continued poverty and joblessness despite China’s
ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern
|Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s
Uyghur service. Translated by Dolkun Kamberi. Written in
English by Richard Finney.