China: Uyghur journalist and editor sentenced

English PEN is appalled by the fifteen-year prison sentence handed down to Uyghur journalist and editor Hailaite Niyazi (aka Hairat or Gheyret Niyaz) on 23 July 2010. Niyazi, who was arrested in October 2009, was convicted on state security charges for his reporting on the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Republic (XUAR). English PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to our information, Hailaite Niyazi, freelance journalist and former editor of the website Uighur Online ( was taken from his home in Tianshan District, Tacheng Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), on 1 October 2009. It is believed that his arrest stems from critical interviews given to foreign media following the unrest which broke out in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on 5 July 2009. The prosecution reportedly used as evidence essays written by Niyazi highlighting mounting ethnic tension in the region prior to the riots, and interviews he gave to Hong Kong media after the violence. Niyazi was convicted by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court on charges of ‘endangering national security’ on 23 July 2010. He is appealing the sentence. Niyazi is currently detained in Tianshan Detention Centre, Urumqi, XUAR.

Hailaite Niyazi, aged 51, is a former reporter and columnist for Xinjiang Economic Daily and Xinjiang Legal News. Until June 2009 he edited and managed, the website owned by the academic, writer and Uyghur PEN member Iham Tohti, himself arrested in July 2009 and held for six weeks for allegedly ‘promoting separatism’.

Three other Uyghur webmasters arrested in August 2009 were also reportedly given lengthy sentences in late July 2010 for material published on their Uyghur-language websites following the July 2009 unrest. They are Dilsha Perhat, webmaster and owner of Diyarim, Nureli, webmaster of Salkin, and Nijat Azat, webmaster of Shabnam. The men were reportedly sentenced to five, three and ten years respectively for ‘endangering national security’ in closed trials at the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court. All three websites have been blocked.


On 5 July 2009, Uyghurs took to the streets of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), to protest an incident in which a number of Uyghur workers in a toy factory in Guan Dong province, southern China, were attacked by Han Chinese and killed. These protests led to violent clashes with Han Chinese in Urumqi which were violently suppressed by the authorities. The state news agency Xinhua reports that 156 Han Chinese have been killed and over 1000 wounded, although details and figures are impossible verify. An estimated 1400 people are said to have been arrested.

Please send appeals:

– Protesting the detention of Uyghur journalist and editor Hailaite Niyazi, and webmasters Dilshat Perhat, Nureli and Nijat Azat;
– Calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory;
– Seeking assurances of their welfare 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 send copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representative for China in your country:

His Excellency Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 Portland Place

Please do let us know if you send appeals and certainly if you receive a response by emailing Many thanks.

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