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China urged to release Uighur activist allegedly tortured in prison

Amnesty International (20 December 2010) renews its call onthe Chinese authorities to release an ethnic Uighur prisoner of consciencejailed on separatism charges after his family reported that he is beingtortured in a Xinjiang prison.Ablikim Abdiriyim, the son of prominent Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer,told relatives visiting him last week that he has been held in solitaryconfinement since 3 November after witnessing an incident that prison authoritieswanted to keep quiet. His health has since deteriorated sharply.The news comes exactly a year after 20 Uighur asylum-seekers were forciblydeported to China from Cambodia. China has not made public the whereaboutsof the group, which included two children, since they were seized on 19December 2009. "The alleged torture of Ablikim Abdiriyim is the latest example of systematic human rights abuses suffered by China's Uighur population atthe hands of the Chinese authorities," said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacificdeputy director at Amnesty International.The Chinese authorities must investigate allegations that Ablikim Abdiriyimhas been tortured and make sure he has access to medical help for any injurieshe may have suffered."Ablikim Abdiriyim was sentenced to nine years in prison for “instigatingand engaging in secessionist activities” in April 2007. Despite Chinese state media claiming his trial was fair, Abdiriyim's familysays he was not given the right to legal representation of his choice andhis “confession” was likely to have been made under torture.Ablikim Abduriyim’s relatives visited him in prison on 13 December andhe told them he had been tortured. He said he was also transferred to solitaryconfinement after refusing to sign a document denying that he had witnesseda controversial incident in the prison. Ablikim Abdiriyim was detained in June 2006. His mother is Rebiya Kadeer,a prominent Uighur businesswoman and activist whose family has been targetedby the authorities since she was detained as a prisoner of conscience in1999. This intensified after she was released on medical parole on 17 March 2005and left China for the USA.  On 27 November 2006, the day after Rebiya Kadeer was elected presidentof the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a court sentenced two of her sons,Alim Abdiriyim and Kahar Abdiriyim, to fines amounting to millions of USdollars, and Alim to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of tax evasion.The torture of Ablikim Abdiriyim appears to be the latest example of theunacceptable persecution against Rebiya Kadeer's family," said CatherineBaber.Amnesty International has also called on China to account for the whereaboutsof 20 Uighur asylum-seekers deported to China from Cambodia a year ago.Nineteen of the individuals fled to Cambodia from China’s Xinjiang UighurAutonomous Region in the wake of riots in the city of Urumqi of July 2009,fearing persecution by the Chinese authorities.  The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, was in the process of reviewing their applicationsfor refugee status when Cambodia succumbed to pressure from the Chinesegovernment to deport the individuals.The deportations attracted international condemnation as there were fearsthe group would suffer serious human rights violations on their return.“We condemn the lack of transparency surrounding the cases of these individualsand urge the Chinese government to tell the world what happened to them,"said Catherine Baber.

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