Rebiya Kadeer, a successful businesswoman from northwestern China and a prominent members of China's Uighur ethnic group in the largely Muslim Xinjiang region, had an appointment to discuss human rights issues with delegates from the US Congressional Research Service in August 1999. The meeting never took place - while en route to the appointment the Chinese authorities arrested her and took her to a local prison notorious for torture.

Although the 'secrets' which Rebiya Kadeer was accused of revealing were publicly available local newspapers in her possession, a secret trial was held and a Chinese court sentenced her to eight years' imprisonment. Amnesty International considers Rebiya Kadeer to be a prisoner of conscience and has appealed for her immediate and unconditional release.

Amnesty International UK's Director Kate Allen said:

'With the Chinese authorities stoking up rhetoric over separatist 'terrorists' in the Xinjiang region, President Bush has an opportunity to raise the case of Uihgur prisoners like Rebiya Kadeer and send a signal that the 'war on terrorism' must not be used to crack down on peaceful political activity.'

Background on Rebiya Kadeer

Rebiya Kadeer is among the most prominent members of China's Uighur ethnic group in the largely Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. She has made a significant contribution to securing Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights in China and founded the 'Thousand Mothers Movement' to promote employment for Uighur Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

The Chinese government has itself previously recognised her contribution by appointing her to its delegation for the 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Beijing. Two years after the Beijing Conference, however, officials confiscated her passport and police harassment followed. The Chinese government's pattern of intimidation was an apparent attempt to silence her husband, an outspoken critic of the government who was living abroad.

Rebiya Kadeer's secretary, arrested shortly after she was taken into custody, also received a three-year term of 're-education through labour' for his association with her. He was reportedly beaten in custody and is now in poor health.

Background on Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Amnesty International has documented a pattern of gross human rights violations in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Chinese authorities have targeted primarily Uighurs, members of the majority ethnic group there. Prominent individuals in the Muslim community have been subjected to oppression and often brutal treatment. Thousands of Uighurs remain in prison, and Xinjiang is the only region of China where political prisoners are known to have been executed in recent years.

Chinese authorities hold many thousands of people in detention throughout the country for peacefully exercising their rights to free expression, association, or religion. Some prisoners are serving long terms after unfair trials initiated under national security legislation. Others are detained without trial and assigned years of 're-education through labour.' Torture and other mistreatment of prisoners remain widespread in China.

For more information on Rebiya Kadeer's case and Amnesty International's campaign, see:

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