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China sentences Uyghur journalist to 15 years in prison

July 27, 2010

Phayul
July 24, 2010

Dharamsala, July 24 -- China has sentenced a
Uyghur journalist to 15 years’ imprisonment
Friday for "endangering state security", his wife
has told the New York based Human Rights in China.

Gheyret Niyaz a 51-year-old journalist working
for the website uighurbiz.net was accused of
criticizing the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang
in an interview in the Hong Kong news weekly,
Yazhou Zhoukan. In that interview, Niyaz
discussed his efforts to alert the authorities in
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) about
the possibility of trouble the day before the
outbreak of the violent ethnic conflict in Urumqi
on July 5, 2009. In the interview, Niyaz said
that the authorities took no action to prevent
the outbreak, despite Niyaz’s repeated warnings.

Reshalaiti, Niyaz’s wife who attended the trial,
said her husband maintained that he was
performing the duty of a citizen and journalist
in talking to the Hong Kong weekly.

Niyaz speaks and writes mainly in Chinese, and is
widely regarded as a moderate voice who advocates
greater understanding between the Han and Uyghur
people. Niyaz has worked at two state-controlled
publications, as a former director of Xinjiang
Legal Daily and a journalist at the Xinjiang Economic Daily.

"In the context of the prolonged news blackout
and strict information control in the XUAR
following the violence in July 2009, Niyaz’s
draconian prison sentence raises serious concern
about the authorities’ respect for freedom of
expression, and capacity and commitment to
protect fundamental rights and freedoms," said
Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.

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